Tag Archives: Emily Grabham

Dr. Emily Grabham at Osgoode: “Remaindered Lives”

“Time, ‘Remaindered Lives’, and the 26 Week Qualifying Period”
Talk by Dr. Emily Grabham, Reader in Law at Kent Law School
Monday, September 28, 2015
Room 2027 @ Osgoode 

event poster, all info included in post Abstract: 
In a recent article published in South Atlantic Quarterly, Neferti Tadiar describes the experiences of apparently ‘unskilled’ women labourers in manufacturing centres in Mexico and China as the ‘remaindered lives’ of global capital. Tadiar’s forceful and eloquent account contrasts with the stories of capital’s total seizure of life that can be found in much global north thinking on the present economic moment, stories dominated by entrepreneurs, artisans, and cultivated selves. Arguing that the new political economy of life overlooks the racialised ‘broader immiserative logic’ that creates experiences of life as essentially ongoing degradation, Tadiar reminds us of the surplus and waste that is needed for capital to expand. Life, experienced by some as a project, portfolio or career in particular economic contexts, is experienced by many instead as ‘fate playing’ and wastage.

Yet ‘remaindered lives’ are legally as well as politically or economically achieved. This paper argues that a combination of often outlandishly short contracts with time-related qualifying conditions on employment rights contributes to many women’s experiences not only of work, but also of life, as fateful, full of unanswered hopes and essentially wasted chances. The right to claim ‘family friendly’ rights in UK law is often de-limited by a qualifying period of 26 weeks (6.5 months) work. Yet women working across a range of sectors in the UK find it increasingly hard to obtain contracts of over 3 months. For racialised and immigrant women, obtaining permanent or semi-permanent work is fraught with particular difficulty. Drawing on interviews of women in precarious work, I outline the strangely productive effects on lives that happen when new contractual practices meet apparently marginal provisions in apparently progressive labour legislation. Through a renewed focus on legal technicalities, the hope is that we can continue the work of accounting for the production of ‘remaindered lives’ through the regulation of labour.

About Dr. Emily Grabham (from her profile page at Kent Law School, found here):

BA (Law) University of Cambridge; LLM Queen’s University, Canada; MSc (Gender, Society & Culture) Birkbeck College, London; PhD (Law) University of Kent. Qualified Solicitor.

Emily Grabham is a Reader in the Law School. Emily’s primary research areas include labour law, law and time, interdisciplinary perspectives on labour and value, and feminist legal theory. She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to legal analysis, drawing on methods and perspectives from legal anthropology, feminist theory, science and technology studies, and critical legal theory. Her current research includes:

1. Law and time. Emily’s forthcoming monograph Doing Things with Time (University of Toronto Press, 2016) draws on perspectives from actor-network theory and legal anthropology, as well as empirical legal research, to think about how legal temporalities are ‘brewed’ in UK and Canadian Law. Case studies include debates about ‘progression’ and ‘likelihood’ in the context of HIV law, ‘work-life balance’ in labour law, and ‘transition’ in the context of transgender legal rights.

2. Work-life balance. Her current project investigates the development and rationale of ‘work-life balance’ laws as a means of resolving tensions in unpaid care and work, drawing on legal ethnography, doctrinal analysis, and feminist legal theory. This feminist genealogy of work-life balance law in the UK is partially funded through an ESRC ‘Future Research Leaders’ award:Balancing Precarious Work and Care.

3. Regulating Time Network. With Sian Beynon Jones (Sociology, University of York UK), Emily co-ordinates the AHRC-funded scholarly network Regulating Time: New Perspectives on Regulation, Law and Temporalities. This interdisciplinary network investigates how law and regulation are shaped by dominant concepts of time.

Emily is also co-founder (with Judy Fudge) of the Gendering Labour Law Research Network.

She is a member of the peer review colleges of the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. She sits on the editorial board of Feminist Legal Studies.

Suggested Bookmark: Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog

website-screenshotTravelling is more than just delays and time to read novels on planes.  You have a different kind of conversation with colleagues when you are out of your usual work environment, even if they are still in theirs.  I am going to come home with lots of new how-to ideas about tech, teaching, conferences, what to read (law, fiction, and non-work non-fiction), cats, maps, and other intangible things (thanks to inter alia, Emily Grabham Toni Williams and Kate Bedford of Kent)  Also, of course, new things to read: After hearing about this from Judy Fudge  I have added it to my RSS feeds.  The blog is here. Posts are by professors, students, post-docs, practitioners, and others and there is plenty of gendered (and some critical) commentary.  It looks well run and I look forward to following.

Here’s a bit about the whole Human Rights Hub itself:

The Oxford Human Rights Hub (OxHRH) aims to bring together academics, practitioners and policy-makers from across the globe to advance the understanding and protection of human rights and equality. Through the vigorous exchange of ideas and resources, we strive to facilitate a better understanding of human rights principles, to develop new approaches to policy, and to influence the development of human rights law and practice.

OxHRH is based in the University of Oxford Faculty of Law and is directed by Sandra Fredman, the Rhodes Professor of the Laws of the British Commonwealth and the USA. University of Oxford academics, research students, and visiting academics form the core of our network, while our reach extends to over 20 countries through our growing network of human rights academics, practitioners and policy-makers.

For more information please visit our website at http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/themes/humanrightshub/index.php or email oxfordhumanrightshub@law.ox.ac.uk. OxHRH is also available on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.


Brit Invasion Double Bill

Brit Invasion Double Bill

FACULTY LUNCH RESEARCH SEMINAR  Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 12:30 – 2:00 pm

Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School

Lunch will be served.
Please RSVP: adrgs@osgoode.yorku.ca

Professor Emily Grabham, University of Kent
“A Likely Story”: HIV and the Definition of Disability in UK Employment Equity Law (1996-2005)


Professor Erika Rackley, Durham University
Gender and Judging


Professor Erika Rackley is co-convenor and co-founder of Gender & Law at Durham
(GLAD), a research group based in the Law School which acts as a focus for gender-related
research and teaching. She is co-author of Tort Law (OUP, 2009), co-editor of Feminist
Perspectives on Tort Law (Routledge, 2012) and Feminist Judgements: From Theory to Practice
(Hart, 2010). She is visiting Osgoode’s IFLS for the week of July 16th.
Professor Emily Grabham joined the University of Kent in 2004 as a Research Fellow in the
AHRC Centre for Law, Gender & Sexuality, having previously worked as an employment and
human rights lawyer in London. Her primary research areas are labour and equality law,
feminist legal theory, and law and time. She is co-editor of Intersectionality & Beyond: Law,
Power & The Politics of Location (Routledge-Cavendish 2008). Emily is visiting Osgoode’s
IFLS until December 2012.

IFLS Book Club [3] Emily Grabham on Mrs. Dred Scott

Find all the comments on Mrs. Dred Scott here, and the next book club book here.

This comment comes from the beating heart of UK legal feminism – Kent Law School.

Emily Grabham is a feminist academic at Kent Law School, with some Canadian connections (an LLM from Queen’s, for one).  She writes on a variety of subjects –  here are some recent publications:

It’s been a while since I read any legal history, and so reading a book, such as this, which aims to write Harriet Scott back into history, has been really illuminating. Mrs Dred Scott is many things. It is a very interesting account of the life of Lawrence Taliaferro, US government agent to the Sioux nation in Minnesota in the 1830s and of the incremental use of property law, commercial interests, and other means to expand US control over northern Wisconsin. It is a social history of life in and around Fort Snelling, and, as such, it documents the roles and hierarchies which contributed to the expansion of white control displacing the Ojibwa and Sioux tribes from large chunks of the Northwest Territories. It is a new and different account of the processes which led to the famous Dred Scott case, and of the impact of that litigation on Dred and Harriet Scott and their family. However, it is not a convincing biography of Harriet Scott herself.

There are many reasons for this, and Lolita and Sonia’s posts have already eloquently provided much of the reasoning that I’m using here. Lolita points out in her post that Lea Vandervelde is attempting to write ‘micro-history’. This term is new to me but I can now see how the term is useful in the context of the book. Writing about a woman who did not communicate through writing and who has left no written record of her own life is a difficult task, and hence it is necessary, if trying to build a picture or feeling of Harriet’s life, to use other sources. Vandervelde has used the written sources at her disposal: Taliaferro’s diary, secondary accounts and written histories of the area and of key historical events, newspaper reports, census and other official/bureaucratic documentation. What emerges is what can be gleaned from those who do the writing. In other words, much of this book – a considerable proportion – is actually very much about other people, mostly rich white and relatively powerful men, and not about Harriet herself.

Of course, it is impossible to write any type of social or individual history without working through the implications of our relationships with other people. As such, it is legitimate in this book, to a certain extent, to write about people who are not Harriet (!) and to discuss how their lives would have impacted on Harriet’s life. However, there is far too much in this book which is not about Harriet. Almost a third of the book is really about Taliaferro. Furthermore, gleaning from written sources by rich, white, slave-owners and then extrapolating to build an account of Harriet’s life could be challenged as re-embedding of white, written histories over Black, working class and/or slave histories and the lives of those steeped instead in oral traditions of communication. If the defence of this type of methodology is that it attempts, to some extent, to work with what we have, and then to put these materials to the task of acknowledging the lives of slaves/servants/working women such as Harriet, the risk is that such histories are simply not sufficiently centred on women like Harriet herself.

Reading this book, I returned again and again to the question of how to write otherwise: how to write against and outside of the usual currents of communication which do so much to obscure the lives and ways of being of the non-normative or less powerful. It is good that Vandervelde takes up this task. Yet producing another account of the daily lives of men, from their diaries and their letters, whilst surmising what chores Harriet was doing in the kitchen (which happens for at least half of the book) arguably does not adequately live up to the real work of writing-otherwise. At the very least, Harriet deserves more of an inner life than what is presented in this biography, and if it is too difficult to present such this then maybe, as Lolita points out, it is better for Harriet to remain at them margins. As a labor lawyer, it was natural for me to be interested in the work that Harriet did, and of course, her work took up a huge amount of her life. Yet work was not everything. We are given very little information about the family she was born into, which must have shaped her worldview to a greater or lesser extent. We know little about her friends, what she wore, and how she came to meet Etheldred. Vandervelde does acknowledge the limitations of information in this regard. However, as has already been pointed out, in the absence of information about her own family and friends, we are given the impression that she must have been very much influenced by Taliaferro. What if she was not influenced by Taliaferro and his ideas of justice? There are many reasons to suspect that her outlook on life might not have been the kind of outlook to be swayed by this man. Relationships of hierarchy do not always translate into relationships of influence or shared moral outlook.

At times, the language and assumptions used in this book grated. We are reminded again and again of Harriet’s being ‘illiterate’, with little reference to the cultures of conversation and other everyday practices which allowed people to function socially and economically without writing. Taliaferro’s role is subject to little critical scrutiny: his fathering of a child with an Indian woman, whom he visits but does not acknowledge, is presented as largely unproblematic or at least not as bad as other examples from that time. The economic and social relations of gender, sexuality, and service which lead to Harriet’s colleague and possibly friend Eliza bearing a child who had the same name as a local doctor are similarly glossed over. Yet other areas of life are rendered in wonderful and compelling detail: Sonia has already written about the winters and the struggle for survival, and I would also say that the coming and going of the river boat provides compelling insight, as do the descriptions of court procedure much later in the book.

In conclusion (for now), as Sonia, I found this book useful and illuminating but not an easy read. My overall impression was that Vandervelde threw herself into her research and tried hard to remain faithful to what her sources could and could not tell her, but found herself caught up along the way in the stories of some informants, but not always those who were most central to the biography. This could very easily have been two books: one about Harriet Scott and another about the process surrounding the negotiation of the treaties opening up the forests of northern Wisconsin to the US government and ultimately also to the commercial interests of those already involved in the fur trade. Certainly the context in which Harriet lived in Minnesota, as well as the relations of race, indigeneity, and law played out during the mid 1800s in that specific location are extremely important for her overall story, but Vandervelde became too enmeshed in Taliaferro’s dilemmas and left Harriet behind for too long. This is a compelling book, but I feel I know little more about Harriet than when I started. I do, however, know and appreciate a lot more about legal process, white expansion, and the paradoxes of ‘frontier life’ than when I began. I’m looking forward very much to the next book.