Tag Archives: video

Emma Cunliffe on Women & Wrongful Convictions


Prof. Cunliffe visited York a long time ago (November 2013, my apologies for being so behind, here is the original announcement)  & gave a talk as part of the Socio-Legal Studies Speaker Series about work she and Prof. Deb Parkes are doing on Wrongful Convictions & Women.  Provides interesting overview of studies of wrongful convictions generally and identifies ways that the parameters and discourse of the field may exclude consideration of women’s experiences of wrongful conviction.

Possible teaching tool – or of course for your own edification.

via ▶ Women and Wrongful Convictions: Learning from ‘difference’ – YouTube.

Twitter Roundup (for those who are picky about the bandwagons they jump on)

woman-computer-vintage(unless otherwise noted, tweets are from @OsgoodeIFLS)

Conferences/Workshops/Summer Schools

Judicial Philosophy ‏@JudicialPhil Reminder: Job: Post-Doctoral Fellowships 2014-2015 – University of Singapore (DL: 31.12) http://tinyurl.com/m7rfny5

Rosa Freedman ‏@GoonerDr 24 Oct   The International Graduate Legal Research Conference http://bit.ly/167dbTO

Rory O’Connell ‏@rjjoconnell 25 OctSummer Schools for Human Rights and Legal Studies — 2014 http://international-justice.com/2013/10/25/summer-schools-for-human-rights-and-legal-studies-2014/

Claire Potter ‏@TenuredRadical [do you read Claire Potter’s column in the Chronicle of Higher Ed? Definitely worth it] What is more fun than a summer institute son #transnationalfeminisms?  http://bit.ly/17zdLL8


Rashmee Singh Migrant #Mediators, #Gender #Violence & #Women’s Empowerment in #toronto diaspora Fri [NOVEMBER 9] @UofT http://bit.ly/1aYoFed  h/t ABhatia

Matthew Weait ‏@ProfWetpaint Podcast of Angela Davis’ lecture at Birkbeck: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2013/10/angela-davis-freedom-is-a-constant-struggle-closures-and-continuities/

Kate Sutherland RT @LawandLit: In Bed w the Police: Katrina Forrester reviews ‘Undercover’ Evans & Lewis · LRB http://feedly.com/k/HpW5HP   #police #gender #race

Kate Sutherland ‏@LawandLit 30 Oct Paper on Critical Race Theory and Crtical Race Feminism and the Unbanked – CL&P Blog  http://feedly.com/k/16MEbup

Oct #Strikes on at UK universities this week. http://bit.ly/1aKStL5   Why?  Here http://bit.ly/1ix9kSw   here http://bit.ly/1aKStL7  #highered


Feminist Playlists

Spending Sunday in the office or otherwise working? #Feministplaylists. Maybe they help? 1/4 Bitchtapes http://bit.ly/1cCCEFK

#Feministplaylists 2/4 tumblr feministsongs http://bit.ly/1cCCZbo

#Feministplaylists 3/4 @crunkfeminists  ▶ this is how we do it: an independence day mix  http://bit.ly/HA8KIz  #sundayattheoffice

4/4 Leslie and Ellie’s Essential #Feminist Playlist via The F Word Feminist Media Collective http://bit.ly/1cCEkil  a little #cancon

What’s an Honour Crime?

project in Van against “honour crimes” 1 of 600 feds support w similar goals. http://bit.ly/1aKVjQ   is this where ALL the VAW  $ is going?

Facts of this case may surprise you, given tags. #SCC #provocation #VAW #imminence http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/13308/index.do #feminist #crimlaw, what say you?

Reproductive Rights

RT @LegalScholBlog: CFP: Abortion & Assisted Reprodctn ; Workshop deadline Nov18 special issue J l, med #ethics . http://bit.ly/1ciSxkv

‏@StepanWood @OsgoodeIFLS check out this article by @vanessa_macd & @JulaHughes in @OHLJ on the German abortion decisions http://j.mp/1atsDwT

Donncha O’Connell ‏@donnchanuig Rights bodies secure permission to make arguments in surrogacy appeal http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/rights-groups-secure-permission-to-make-arguments-in-surrogacy-appeal-1.1581384#.UnQ5gz3GYDs.twitter  … via @IrishTimes

What happens when #women cannot get late #abortions #oklahoma #law #poverty http://flip.it/Ha7Yw   #hypocrisy

Pregnant Woman Fights Wisconsin Fetal Rights Laws http://flip.it/Fc5ph

The Conversation ‏@ConversationEDU Sex-selective abortion is challenging our views about reproductive freedom @Macquarie_Uni http://bit.ly/1aln9V5

Sara R. Cohen ‏@fertilitylaw 29 Oct Australia approves #PGD for #sex selective #IVF for the 1st time to avoid high risk of #autism http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/19457937/baby-sex-checks-for-autism /  …

Faux-Feminism –  Brocialism – MRA’s & the misguided

@bellhooks at @feministwire with  Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In http://bit.ly/16FkJ2r   #fauxfeminism #neoliberal What do you think?

Brand, iconoclasm, and a #woman’s place in the #revolution Laurie Penny takes on #Brocialism http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-penny/2013/11/discourse-brocialism  …

‏ Have a read. RT @LauraGraham86: A Good Men’s Rights Movement Is Hard to Find: http://flip.it/qDpHz   via @theprospect #MRA

@sarahjkeenan Selma James on why sex workers don’t need the ‘protection’ of dickish sexist men http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/01/sex-workers-hands-off-my-whore-france-prostitutes  …

Sexual Assault

Corey R. Yung on Rubenfeld’s Big Step Backward in Rape Law @FeministLawPrfs http://bit.ly/1aNMHoD

Advising #Women Against #Drinking Sends a Dangerous Message – NYT http://bit.ly/1adP0m8   #Philosophy prof breaks down the problem.w analogy!

First Nations /School/Access/Heroes/resistance

Wanda Nanibush #idlenomore Histories of #Indigenous #women’s #resistance November 12 Toronto (poster) http://bit.ly/16S2jf3  Wanda Nanibush, Dame Nita Barrow distvisitor at Centre for Women’s Studies in Education lectures Nov 12 #idlenomore  http://bit.ly/16S1W4b

Allison Fenske ‏@AllisonFenske 26 Oct .@WabKinew’s beautiful words in @walrusmagazine · The Residential School Apology · http://ow.ly/qcvas

New DC Comics superhero inspired by young Cree activist – Shannen Koostachin –   h/t Deb Parkes http://bit.ly/HA9zRN

Ntawnis ‏@NtAwNiS 28 Oct “I deserve access to my school!” FN youth living w disabilities access to #Education esp. dificult in the North. #INM pic.twitter.com/16mxfneHr3

Women in Law

Amicae Curiae ‏@amicae1 25 Oct  RT @LIVPresident: Interesting article from @katgallow on women in the institutions of the law: http://ow.ly/q2LzW  #lawyers #auslaw

Rothna Begum ‏@Rothna_Begum For the 1st time ever in #Saudi a female lawyer @bayanzahran1 appeared in court to represent a client http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20131102185483  …  via @ahmed

like, awesome. Biglaw Memo From Top #law Firm Advises #Women ‘Don’t Giggle,’ Don’t squirm’ plus! clothing tips!   http://bit.ly/1hfBSSz

IFLS talks on [video]tape: Margaret Thornton on The Mirage of Merit + Commentary by Lorraine Code

mmOn September 24 2013 the IFLS and the Centre for Feminist Research at York hosted Professor Margaret Thornton of the Australian National University, with commentary by Professor Emerita Lorraine Code of York.

The new digital age is all about you, of course, when where and how you want it – so this time we’re happy to offer you the video (streamed):


Prefer text over video?

You can read Professor Thornton here at Taylor and Francis online (probably not open access) – the cite is The Mirage of Merit: Reconstituting the Ideal Academic 2013 Australian Feminist Studies Volume 28, Issue 76, and you can read Professor Code (who graciously agreed to supply us with her written remarks) below.

delivered September 24, 2013, posted October 28, 2013

A Response to Margaret Thornton’s “The Mirage of Merit” by Lorraine Code


It is challenging to comment on Margaret Thornton’s paper for the perhaps unusual reason that I agree with almost everything she says. So the standard (if outworn?) philosopher’s strategy of parry and thrust with the aim of demolishing an opponent’s argument cannot be my approach. Given the dire picture Margaret paints, I only wish it could! Nor am I well versed in legal theory, so even though I claim to agree with her, I really do not know whereof I speak: a strange position for a self-professed epistemologist to occupy. And yet there are sufficient points of overlap with academic institutional issues in law and philosophy, and other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, for striking affinities to be apparent, even though there are no very obvious ways to counter Margaret’s counsel of despair with a counsel of hope! But there is a certain heuristic strength in naming the issues now, just fifty years after Betty Friedan began

cutline quote "...at least "we" all knew what "excellence" meant

 to change the world by naming the problem that hitherto had no name. And indeed, Margaret Thornton has produced a wonderfully astute analysis of the current state of gendered divisions in the legal world as she finds it, focusing on what she so aptly refers to as “the mirage of merit”. In what follows I will engage briefly with her analysis from the point of view of the beleaguered situation of the humanities and social sciences more generally in the English-speaking world in Canada, with the hope at least that there is strength to be gained from recognitions of mutuality/solidarity, and perhaps also inspiration about where to go from here.

 The aptness of Margaret’s reference to the “mirage” recalls certain debates about hiring policy more than a decade ago, here at York University, where affirmative action with respect to gender and other so-called “minority” identities was an active issue, and “excellence” was one of the principal attributes specified for a potential hire: an attribute believed, it would seem, to encompass all the rest. Members of one department remarked, as though in passing, that at least “we” all knew what “excellence” meant, intending then simply to move on to evaluating candidates, slotting them in to that category, or not. But it was not so simple, for this it seemed was the very issue: we did not and I think still do not know what “excellence” means except perhaps as a character summary of just that person who is the hero, or the villain, in Margaret’s presentation: “benchmark man”. Oh, things are better than these comments suggest, at least in many departments at York and elsewhere, where care is usually taken to be clear about faculty expectations, and fair in assessing potential applicants. But in the wide world of philosophy, which is the world I know best, and in academic hiring in North America more generally, it is hard to judge how much of a real, deeply effective conceptual shift has taken place, away from outworn  categories of “excellence” as tacitly embodied as much in white heterosexual maleness as in certain areas of credentialed  inquiry, and toward opening out into newer, more creative ways of deliberating and judging, especially in view of an increasing (if too often suppressed) awareness of changing demographics and concomitantly, of changing conceptions of the worthiness, as much as it pertains to certain subject matters as to certain human “kinds”: to subjectivities, people. Here, especially, a far-reaching conceptual shift seems to be required.

Yet I think the “atavistic fear” Margaret aptly refers to is partly a deep fear about prospects of having to navigate a range of unfamiliar ideas, outrageous questions, issues and new “styles of reasoning” that disrupt and unsettle the “absolute presuppositions” that have long governed academic life: presuppositions about the “ideal academic” that, she rightly notes, are now threatening to reaffirm their hegemony. This thought pertains as much to deep-seated assumptions about what kind of person a worthy academic must be as to what projects of inquiry, what thoughts, questions, and ideas are worthy to occupy physical and intellectual space in the academy, across a range of disciplines and sub-disciplines. There is a deep security in homogeneity; and the “timidity” whose history Margaret aptly refers to must surely figure into various forms of resistance to potential innovation and reconstitution projects, at this rather tenuous juncture in the history of “the academy”, loosely aggregated: innovation that responds to ways of being in the world that differ from the hitherto taken for granted ways of “benchmark man”, yet that require the kinds of openness standard typologies rarely allow.


What I want to call the “embodied specificities” of people who differ from “benchmark man” were once declared irrelevant (in principle, if not always in practice) to processes of judging that elusive quality I have mentioned: “academic excellence”. Yet at the same time, some of those specificities were tacitly (or not so tacitly) effective in practices of sorting the putatively deserving from the undeserving, and not always even-handedly. Often, beneath the surface, they were definitive of the deliberations and exclusions that sustained a demographically monolithic, monochromatic academic community, quite apart from its variations across disciplines. Their current troubling (if sometimes tacit) reaffirmation informs much of Margaret Thornton’s astute analysis. Such specificities manifest in external concerns about the public face of the university, interwoven with internal convictions about which matters are worthy of academic inquiry, which projects are deserving of grants, worthy of publication, cause for recognition and esteem; and in certain areas of research, about how their absence – or their tentative attempts to establish a presence – works to reaffirm the monologic status of the mythical “man of reason” (to borrow a phrase from Margaret’s compatriot, Genevieve Lloyd). Anecdotally, I am thinking about the eminent British ethicist Philippa Foot who, in the late 1960s, was to deliver a paper at a US university. In response to a request for her title she sent a illegibly scribbled note: evidently faculty members consulted up and down the corridors, trying to decipher it, saying to one another that it seemed she must be going to talk about abortion, but surely that could not be so!! I mention this incident not just for itself but to suggest that indeed there have been changes even in a subject so hitherto austere as philosophy, concomitant with wider social changes, at least to the extent that topics once beyond mention in the elevated conversations of philosophers have, in their acceptance into the discipline, changed the landscape of inquiry well beyond what the substance of that one landmark paper on abortion suggests.

But the change is tenuous, unstable: recent closings of women’s and gender studies programmes, ongoing reminders to job candidates at least in philosophy (and very likely elsewhere) that it is best not to list feminist philosophy as an area of specialization, small numbers of women on conference programmes, on faculty lists in full-time tenured positions, attest to an ongoing need for vigilance and – yes – for advocacy, despite the bad press it tends to attract. Issues internal to the disciplines: issues connected to what Margaret calls “numerosity” in evaluations of “merit” also attest to continued pressures to venerate Benchmark man in his presumptively autonomous, self-sufficient aspects. Of many possible examples, I am thinking now of an ongoing disdain for collaborative inquiry, with the complexities it produces for evaluations of merit; of the research evaluation exercises (REF) that haunt the lives of academics in the UK; and by way of illustration, of the exclusion of book reviews from items that figure as calculable evidence of productivity. These latter are perhaps less easy to characterize thus until one pausess to think that books that fall into limbo for want of having been reviewed are less apt to garner scholarly recognition of the sort that academics, both new and old, require not just for purposes related to “numerosity”, but also for confirmation and inclusion in a productive academic community. These aspects of academic life are not as straightforwardly calculable in their effects in maintaining an outworn status quo, but their contribution to a climate of collegial vulnerability, or not, cannot be gainsaid. Hence although in many disciplines, book reviews no longer count as contributions to scholarly achievement, their exclusion devalues both the book itself and the scholarly work that goes in to producing a thoughtful review. Moreover, devaluing book reviews as forms of academic productivity, together with other not-solitary forms of scholarly activity damages any tacit sense of universities as communities of inquiry while revalidating a spirit of competitiveness.  Although how some of these exclusions reinforce the stature of Benchmark Man is more oblique than with other examples I have adduced, their contribution to a solitary and stark individualism is part of this larger picture. 

cutline quote

So what does it all amount to? Clearly, the point cannot be to work toward displacing benchmark man only to replace him with an equivalently monolithic “alternative” figure. Rather, as Margaret’s paper invites us to do, the project must be to deconstruct the very thought of a monolithic ideal and thence to work toward aspirations that better reflect the demographic multiplicity and scholarly diversity of the early twenty-first century academy, and wider world. The thought is not simple in its potential for realization because the timidity Margaret refers to generates precisely the kind of “pull-back” into an older and more comfortable (for some) stasis that the so-called new social movements of the 1960s and after promised to dislodge, and neo-liberalism is now working to reaffirm. Nor is that “pull-back” straightforwardly reprehensible in an era of increasing insecurity in the academy, where whole programmes and sub-disciplines can be closed down with rationales justified by appeal to numerosity. But the process is in no sense ameliorative, and it needs to be acknowledged for what it is, not just for purposes related to “numerosity”, but also for confirmation and inclusion in a productive academic community. These aspects of academic life are not as straightforwardly calculable in their effects in maintaining an outworn status quo, but their contribution to a climate of collegial vulnerability, or not, cannot be gainsaid. Hence although in many disciplines, book reviews no longer count as contributions to scholarly achievement, their exclusion devalues both the book itself and the scholarly work that goes in to producing a thoughtful review. Moreover, devaluing book reviews as forms of academic productivity, together with other not-solitary forms of scholarly activity damages any tacit sense of universities as communities of inquiry while revalidating a spirit of competitiveness.  Although how some of these exclusions reinforce the stature of Benchmark Man is more oblique than with other examples I have adduced, their contribution to a solitary and stark individualism is part of this larger picture.

Thinking about the implausibility of imagining simply displacing the monolithic masculine ideal Margaret has diagnosed with a new, less coercive and restrictive one, recalls Genevieve Lloyd’s response, in the mid-1980s, to participants in discussions of her then-new book, The Man of Reason. There she documents the implicit or frequently explicit “maleness” of ideals of reason as – with culturally specific variations – they inform western philosophical and cultural discourse from the ancient Greeks through to the late twentieth century. When she was challenged, at that time, to propose an “alternative” to the man – and the maleness – of reason, she remarked that it had taken so long and so much careful analysis to deconstruct ideals of reason, and thus to expose its 2000+-year-old tacit or overt associations with maleness and exclusion of “the feminine”, that it would be facile, careless, to imagine that a new conceptual apparatus could without further ado be inserted, ready-made, in its place.

Although it may seem to be something of a stretch, I want to suggest that this thought has distant echoes with some readings of Audre Lorde’s caution against using the master’s tools to dismantle or rebuild the master’s house: a caution I am reading as a revolutionary declaration and not, as some of her detractors have claimed, as a reactionary shutdown ploy.[1] On the reading  I find plausible, Lorde is insisting she does not want us (whoever we are) to cower in fear of the master, but to stand up and disrupt the false consensus that constrains us. Hence she wrote, “… survival is not an academic skill. . . . . It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.” Lorde recognized that feminists, in 1979, had not succeeded in countering the separations and schisms within the movement, which only perpetuated the dominance of patriarchy.  So in arguing that, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” she is insisting that only if feminists “learn how to take our differences and make them strengths ”will true that equality be achieved (2899). The conundrum, of course, is that practices and processes that accord Benchmark man the definitive voice will persist; and those of us who oppose them cannot just stand in the rain, outside the house, waiting for new ways of building, doing, and being to evolve. So the challenge Margaret has presented requires renewed efforts from feminists, both female and male, to recover, and rethink the early promise of feminist thought: to bring about far-reaching conceptual change. From Margaret’s astute analysis it is also apparent that the forms such reenacting can take are still to be determined, given how insistently Benchmark man is currently being reactivated/reanimated!! These are the deliberations Margaret’s excellent paper urges us to undertake. They require ongoing, arduous effort just when some of us might have been tempted to sit back and believe the issues had been resolved. But this is the rallying cry Margaret Thornton’s analysis has sounded.

[1] I am grateful to Micah White for some of these thoughts about Audre Lorde. See http://micahmwhite.com/adbusters-articles/the-masters-tools-reclaiming-audre-lordes-revolutionary-phrase accessed 9/23/2013.





Law's Slow Violence, revisited and onwards

If you couldn’t make it to our June workshop, here is the video of the opening session:

Osgoode Hall Law School hosts “Law’s Slow Violence Workshop” with Rob Nixon (Rachel Carson, Professor of English from the University of Wisconsin). Professors Dayna Scott responding.  Link to video.

The workshop is described here, and all the blog posts leading up to the meeting, from Dayna Scott, Angela Harris, Pearl Kan, Doug Hay and Estair Van Wagner, are available here. Professor Scott also suggests this article,  The Presumed Innocence of Capitalism and Lac-Mégantic, by Osgoode Hall Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar Harry Glasbeek:

…the only thing that is special about a Lac-Mégantic is the sudden manner in which a huge amount of harm is inflicted. The infliction of harms is a daily event; but it is experienced as atomized, isolated events, unworthy of news coverage. We hardly notice the steady dripping of blood, the innumerable illnesses, serious and minor, daily deaths and incremental deterioration of our physical environments. We are systematically desensitized to the catastrophic dimensions of the injuries that regulated profit-seekers inflict. This is an amazing triumph for harm-inflicting profiteers.

Watch Sharon McIvor talk about the case that bears her name

This video comes via the UBC Law Centre for Feminist Legal Studies.  It is about two or three years old.  In it, Sharon McIvor speaks about the continuing sex discrimination in the Indian Act, starting from the Act’s original disenfranchisement of status women who married non-Indians.   She refers to a long line of women who have also moved this issue forward, including Mary Two-Axe Early, Jeannette Corbiere Lavell and Yvonne Bédard, (AG Canada v. Lavell  [1974] SCR 1349), Sandra Lovelace (now a Canadian senator) who took her case  to the UN [Sandra Lovelace v Canada, Communication No R6/24, UN Doc Supp No 40 (A/36/40). Lovelace v Canada, UN Petition R 6/24 (1981) Report of the Human Rights Committee, UN GAOR, 36th Sess, Supp No 40, UN Doc A/36/40 (1981); Lovelace v Canada, 24/1977, UN Doc CCPR/C/13/D/24/1977 (1981)]

Sharon’s case isn’t a marrying out case (see around minute 20 where she explains this).  Her father’s mother was a person who lost status by marrying a man without status but with Indian heritage, so her father did not have status.  Her maternal grandmother had status, and never married, but her mother was never registered.The timeline and the details of the delays in a case that began in 1985 is, I think, important for all people who work with law. Sharon (a lawyer who holds an LLM, and has been widely published) describes being cross examined over a four day period.  Here are the cases – first, the decision she describes around minute 40 2007 BCSC 8270 and then at the BCCA:  McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs), 2009 BCCA 153 (CanLII).

The whole thing is about an hour.  Listen to the voice of a woman who has pushed for justice for decades.   She is frank about the battles she has fought within Aboriginal organizations – but in the end, in her case, all the intervening associations ended up supporting her.