March 2 @ U of T: Tracy Robinson on “Loving Laws”

pic of Tracey RobinsonWednesday, March 2, 2016
4:00–6:00 p.m.
JHB 100A Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

Tracy Robinson, University of the West Indies, Social Justice Education – Loving Laws

I and many others have been involved in strategic litigation in the English speaking Caribbean that challenges the constitutionality of laws criminalizing same-sex sex. Many of us rely heavily on reason, especially forms of legal reason, to question laws that criminalize same sex sexuality. Yet the historical rationalist critique that that nationalists in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean are defending laws that are the product of colonialism has remarkably little traction where these laws still exist. It tends to miss how ‘[s]entiment is the ground against which the figure of reason is measured and drawn’ (Stoler). The relationship of many Caribbeans to 19th century laws criminalizing same-sex sex is a deeply affective one—of loving laws—that is partly prefigured by knowledge practices of the Caribbean common law state. In this paper I want to explore how technologies of law, and especially of what I term ‘a Caribbean common law’, helped to establish an affinity to some laws as, to borrow from Amar Wahab, ‘a state of reason’. Sentiments about legal kinship and belonging have been used to forge community and identity in the Anglophone Caribbean and forge heteropatriarchy as a form of ‘indigenous’ culture. I am also interested in exploring how process of legal reification—codification and consolidation of criminal laws in the 19th century and the methodologies of ‘saving’ of these laws through Caribbean constitutions—as well as gendered and sexualized international legal rhetoric also contributed to loving laws.

About Tracy Robinson:


Tracy Robinson (Jamaica & Balliol 1992) is a lawyer and senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she teaches gender and law, constitutional law and Commonwealth Caribbean human rights, among other subjects. She was the Chair of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights from 2014-2015, and currently serves as its Rapporteur for the rights of women and rights of LGBTI persons until the end of her term in December 2015. Tracy has served as a consultant to international agencies such as the United Nations Fund for Women (now UN Women) and UNICEF, and she has advised Caribbean governments on topics related to gender and children’s rights legislation. She holds a Master of Laws from Yale University, a Bachelor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelor of Law from the University of the West Indies.

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