January 17, 2020

Call For Proposals: Literature and International Law, Columbia Global Center, June 15-16, 2020, Nairobi

Literature and International Law

15-16 June 2020 • Nairobi


Call for Papers
The past decade has seen a steady increase in interdisciplinary scholarship interested in the relationships between literature and international law. Much of this scholarship has remained deeply rooted in the home disciplines of the scholars, who not only operate with the prevailing assumptions and methodologies of those disciplines, but also tend to treat the other disciplines as stable and unproblematic. Moreover, while claiming to tell a global history, that scholarship largely repeats the Eurocentric bias that has historically characterized the fields of comparative literature and international law. In fact, much of the new scholarship on comparative literature and international law not only fails to take account of imperialism and its histories in the formation of disciplinary knowledge, it also tends to marginalize events and thinkers in the global south (including the south in the north), ignoring their roles as actors and agents of literary and legal world-making. In doing so, this new scholarship seems to be replicating the traditional prejudices of its contributing disciplines.

Over the past two years, a group of scholars from multiple disciplines and locations have been engaged in a conversation exploring the imbrications of literature and international law at the edges, and doing so in a manner that seeks to avoid these basic disciplinary blindnesses and Eurocentric assumptions and places the Global South at the center of their discussions. The conversation began at a workshop in New York in December 2019, and then was re-convened at a follow-up event in London in July 2019. The third and final such meeting will take place 15-16 June, 2020 at the Columbia Global Center in Nairobi, Kenya.
We would like to invite scholars from across disciplines interested in taking part in this conversation, including those who participated at the previous meetings in New York and London, to submit short proposals for papers to join us in Nairobi for a two-day Symposium. In particular, we are seeking proposals that:
  • Explore interdisciplinary interfaces among literary, historical, and legal studies, and from positions of geo-historical marginalization across the Global South.
  • Address the intersections between particular texts of “world literature” and Third World Approaches to International Law.
  • Map the theoretical and historical relationships between comparative literature and international law as world-making, world-imagining, and world-governing regimes; and consider how literature might be used to map radical alternatives to these regimes.
  • Trace the historical global flows of knowledge at the “margins” of world literary and legal space that have been overlooked in the canonical and narrow focus of the separate disciplines, as well as new flows of global knowledge among the disciplines and across (and about) the Global South.
  • Consider how the basic assumptions and doctrines of international law and comparative literature (e.g., sovereignty, self-determination, territoriality, equality of states, ethno-cultural nationalism, national languages, and rights to natural and cultural resources) were worked out historically in the Global South.
Please email proposals/abstracts and short CV to iL.Lit.events@gmail.com by 1 March 2020. Limited funding is available to assist scholars from the Global South with travel costs.
Organizers: Joseph Slaughter (Columbia University), Vasuki Nesiah (New York University), Gerry Simpson (London School of Economics), Christopher Gevers (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Joseph R. Slaughter • Department of English and Comparative Literature • 602 Philosophy Hall • Columbia University • New York, NY 10027 • ph. (212) 854-6433 • jrs272@columbia.edu 

Call For Papers: Murder and True Crime in the Media--St Mary's University, Twickenham @YourStMarys

Update: please see the below Call for Papers for updates on the Murder and True Crime in the Media conference, including further details of our keynote presenters, and our conference website. This conference is now free to attend and selected proceeding will be published in an edited collection. The closing date for abstracts is Friday 14th February (please email abstracts to maria.mellins@stmarys.ac.uk

CFP: Murder and True Crime in the Media 
Proposals are invited for an interdisciplinary conference at St Mary’sUniversity, Twickenham on Friday 29th May 2020. 

Book your free place on our conference website:


New Confirmed Keynotes
Dr Sarah Moore's research is concerned with gender and risk, she has published work on media representation of date rape and student beliefs concerning drug-facilitated sexual assault. Sarah is the author of Crime and the Media (2014, Palgrave Macmillan) 

Dr Jane Monckton-Smith has published on interpersonal violence, stalking, coercive control, domestic abuse and homicide prevention. Jane is also the author of the Homicide Timeline - the 8 stages. 

About the Conference 
Modern audiences demonstrate an appetite for true crime, and particularly stories that involve murder. Whilst public fascination for true crime is not new, the genre has long dominated our entertainment industries, from biopics, whodunnits, to gangster films; interest in true crime is certainly renewed. One reason for the resurgence of popularity for true crime is Industrial. There is a recent influx of new content available. Making a Murderer can be viewed through the lens of Netflix and binge-watching, Sarah Koenig’s Serial is closely linked to an increase in podcast listeners. Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil, and Vile and Mindhunter both demonstrate the draw for well-known stars (such as Zac Efron) and personnel (David Fincher) to this genre. 

Where there is scheduling, there is also a market. The people that ‘demand’ on demand. Therefore, alongside these industrial contexts, there are a number of wider factors involved in the surge of murder content. Violent crimes, particularly murder, have ideal narrative structures with a ready-made story arc, ‘social order is disrupted by a deviant act, the guilty are sought and generally identified, and, finally, justice is done or thwarted’ (Auden in Moore, 2014: 177). They are enigma narratives that compel audiences to binge-watch the investigation so that they may finally achieve satisfaction in the form of closure. Some narratives are exoneration tales, using documentary as trial spaces that jurify the public (Bruzzi, 2016), others provide us with an opportunity to experience fear in a safe environment. David Altheide’s (2002) work on fear and the news and Ulrich Beck’s (1992) on Risk Society demonstrates how a perceived lack of control over our lives has led to a preoccupation with safety and risk. 

Through the consideration of murder in the press, documentaries, films and novels, this conference will interrogate the different representations of true crime and how these can contribute to important debates in contemporary culture and society. For instance, can analysis into victims shed light on the way that social groups are constructed in the media, and whether there is a process of selection occurring? How can the study of murder cases provide further insight into coercive control? How might the representations of crimes vary, from knife crime, organised crime, to the glamorisation or even celebrification of some serial killers? What are the ethical considerations when producing murder content and how do platforms such as podcasts and YouTube, pose issues of regulation? 

Papers are invited from a broad range of disciplines including Media, Film, Criminology, Sociology, Law. Some focal points include (but are not limited to) 
·         The victims and/or survivors of murder 
·         Serial killers and/or mass murderers in the media 
·         Organised crime and human trafficking  
·         Murder in the news 
·         Policing and the murder investigation 
·         Domestic violence  
·         Coercive control 
·         True Crime trials – the use of documentary and podcasts as an alternative ‘trial space’ to either exonerate the falsely accused or announce culprits (and negotiations in-between) 
·         The platforms and technologies of true crime - Netflix, podcasts, YouTube, crime binge-watching (extending to issues of regulation) 
·         The ethical considerations involved in murder themed productivity 
·         Negotiating risk and fear in true crime  
·         Cultivation theory 

Please submit a maximum 500-word abstract by Friday 14th February 2020 to Dr Maria Mellins, maria.mellins@stmarys.ac.uk 

St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham. TW1 4SX. 

For directions to St Mary’s and further information, please see our website.

January 16, 2020

Crawford on The Common Law as Silver Slippers @ProfBCrawford @brooklynlaw @NwULRev

Bridget J. Crawford, Pace University School of Law, has published The Common Law as Silver Slippers at 114 Northwestern University Law Review Online 131 (2019). Here is the abstract.
This essay introduces a collection of Symposium Essays examining Anita Bernstein’s book, The Common Law Inside the Female Body (Cambridge University Press, 2019). The authors engage in one or more of three broad intellectual moves: testing and exploring the limits of the book’s thesis that the common law should be resurrected as a legal strategy to protect women’s rights; applying the concept of condoned self-regard; and questioning the common law from viewpoints of groups historically (and presently) subject to unequal treatment.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

January 14, 2020

Call For Nominations: Penny Pether Award

Call for Nominations: The Penny Pether Law & Language Scholarship Award 2019
A passionate advocate for interdisciplinary scholarship in law, literature, and language, Penelope J. Pether (1957-2013) was Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law and former Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric at the American University Washington College of Law. Her own scholarship focused not only on law, literature, and language, but also on constitutional and comparative constitutional law; legal theory, including constitutional theory; common law legal institutions, judging practices, and professional subject formation.

Beginning in November 2013, the Penny Pether Award for Law & Language Scholarship has been given annually to an article or essay published during the preceding year that exemplifies Penny’s commitment to law and language scholarship and pedagogy.

The Committee selecting award recipients from among the articles and essays nominated will look for scholarship that not only embodies Penny’s passion and spirit but also has some or all of the following characteristics:

1. “[S]cholarship concerning itself with the unique or distinctive insights that might emerge from interdisciplinary inquiries into ‘law’ grounded in the work of influential theorists of language and discourse.”

2. Scholarship that “attempts to think through the relations among subject formation, language, and law.”

3. Scholarship that provides “accounts of—and linguistic interventions in—acute and yet abiding crises in law, its institutions and discourses.”

4. Scholarship and pedagogy, including work addressing injustices in legal-academic institutions and practices, that is “[c]arefully theorized and situated, insisting on engaging politics and law, [and that] charts ways for law and its subjects to use power, do justice.”

More explanations and descriptions of these characteristics can be found in Penny’s chapter from which these quotations are drawn: Language, in Law and the Humanities: An Introduction (Austin Sarat et al. eds., Cambridge U. Press 2010).

A list of past winners appears here: https://law.unlv.edu/lawyering-process/penny-pether

Nominations should be sent by January 31, 2020, to Karen Scullion at kmsculli@law.syr.edu.

Any article or essay published during the calendar year 2019 is eligible. You are free to nominate more than one work and to nominate work you’ve written. Please provide a citation and a pdf for each work you nominate.

The Selection Committee includes Linda Berger, Corinne Blalock, David Caudill, Amy Dillard, Bruce Hay, Ian Gallacher, Melissa Marlow, Jeremy Mullem, Nancy Modesitt, Stephen Paskey, Yvette Russell, Anne Ralph, and Terry Pollman.

Members of the Selection Committee are not eligible for the award.

January 8, 2020

Abrams on References to Movies in Judicial Opinions and Written Advocacy, Part II @mobarnews @mizzoulaw

Douglas E. Abrams, University of Missouri School of Law, has published References to Movies in Judicial Opinions and Written Advocacy, Part II, at 75 Journal of the Missouri Bar 297 (Nov-Dec. 2019). Here is the abstract.
Professor Abrams authors a column, Writing it Right, in the Journal of the Missouri Bar. In a variety of contexts, the column stresses the fundamentals of quality legal writing - conciseness, precision, simplicity, and clarity.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Part I is available here.

Pardo on Financial Freedom Suits: Bankruptcy, Race, and Citizenship in Antebellum America @EmoryLaw

Rafael I. Pardo, Emory University School of Law, is publishing Financial Freedom Suits: Bankruptcy, Race, and Citizenship in Antebellum America in the Arizona Law Review. Here is the abstract.
This Article presents a new frame of reference for thinking about how the federal government facilitated citizenship claims by free people of color in the antebellum United States. While scholars have accounted for various ways in which free black litigants may have made such claims, they have not considered how the Bankruptcy Act of 1841 enabled overindebted free people of color to reconstruct their economic lives, thereby restoring the financial freedom that was and continues to be an essential component of American citizenship. Relying on a variety of primary sources, including manuscript court records, this Article shows how six free men of color in the Eastern District of Louisiana leveraged the economic benefit provided by the 1841 Act to reintegrate into their commercial communities and thereby protect their claims to citizenship.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Young on Searching for the Author: A Performative Reading of Legal Subjection in David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King" @SteveIsInOtago @law_humanities @OtagoLaw

Stephen Young, University of Otago, is publishing Searching for the Author: A Performative Reading of Legal Subjection in David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King in Law and Humanities (October 2019). Here is the abstract.
This article argues that law is a central character and subject in David Foster Wallace’s unfinished, metafictional novel, The Pale King. As a subject of the novel, the so-called author disclaims this legal character, while also subjecting himself to it, which provides this text with its extra-textual and metafictional aspects. These aspects raise unanswerable questions, like ‘who is the author?’ and ‘is it finished?’ In showing that the ‘Pale King’ is the legal character, this article contends that The Pale King is a meditation on legal subjection that also, importantly and didactically, demands that readers performativity engage in processes of legal subjection.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

January 7, 2020

Ristroph on An Intellectual History of Mass Incarceration @brooklynlaw

Alice Ristroph, Brooklyn Law School, has published An Intellectual History of Mass Incarceration at 60 Boston College Law Review 1949 (2019). Here is the abstract.
There is much criticism of America’s sprawling criminal system, but still insufficient understanding of how it has come to inflict its burdens on so many while seemingly accomplishing so little. This Article asks, as Americans built the carceral state, what were we thinking? The Article examines the ideas about criminal law that informed legal scholarship, legal pedagogy, and professional discourse during the expansion of criminal legal institutions in the second half of the twentieth century. In each of these contexts, criminal law was and still is thought to be fundamentally and categorically different from other forms of law in several respects. For example, criminal law is supposedly unique in its subject matter, uniquely determinate, and uniquely necessary to a society’s wellbeing. This Article shows how this set of ideas, which I call criminal law exceptionalism, has helped make mass incarceration possible and may now impede efforts to reduce the scope of criminal law. The aim here is not to denounce all claims that criminal law is distinct from other forms of law, but rather to scrutinize specific claims of exceptionalism in the hopes of better understanding criminal law and its discontents.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

January 1, 2020

ICYMI: Lukina on The Semenchuk Case of 1936: Storytelling and Propaganda Above the Law in the Soviet Criminal Trial @ANNVYSHINSKY

ICYMI: Anna Lukina, Oxford University, has published The Semenchuk Case of 1936: Storytelling and Propaganda above the Law in the Soviet Criminal Trial, at 41 Review of Central and East European Law 63 (2016). Here is the abstract.
This article applies the concept of legal narrative to one of the Soviet show trials of the 1930s, the Semenchuk Case (1936), and examines its interlink with the refetishization of law initiated by Andrei Vyshinskii. While distinguishing Soviet legal narrative as a special type of storytelling in criminal cases, this analysis describes the substantive and formal patterns that arose within this narrative type as a direct consequence of the ideological goals of Soviet courts. Within Soviet legal narrative, the accounts of the defence, prosecution, and the judgment, all relate closely to historical context, and the broader political and ideological agendas of decision-makers, which extend beyond the facts of the case.

December 17, 2019

Call for Proposals: 5th Global Meeting: Slavery Past, Present & Future, Webster University, Leiden, the Netherlands


Webster University, Leiden, The Netherlands
June 22-24, 2020
Slavery (the treatment of humans as chattel) and enslavement through conquest, birth, gender, race, ethnicity, kinship, and exploitation of indebtedness have been an intrinsic part of human societies.
Slavery and a variety of other forms of exploitation existed in ancient societies across the world, and in many other states and territories.  The Transatlantic Slave Trade furnished at least 10 million Africans for slavery throughout the Americas. 

Controversial and contested estimates indicate that up to 40 million people worldwide are enslaved today.  This modern re-emergence of slavery into public view, following legal abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade over two hundred years ago, is said to be linked to the deepening interconnectedness of countries in the global economy, overpopulation, and the economic and other vulnerabilities of individual victims and communities.
But should we think of these people as enslaved? And if so, is slavery an inevitable part of the human condition? Like ‘consumers’ of past eras, such as early industrialization, are we dependent on the exploitation of others? What does the persistence and mutations of different forms of exploitation mean in the context of abolition and recognition of universal individual and collective human rights? 
The varieties of contemporary forms of exploitation appear to be endless. This interdisciplinary conference will facilitate a multidisciplinary exploration of slavery in all its dimensions. 
Submissions are sought from people from all walks of life and identities, including:
  • Academics: from all disciplines, such as art, film, anthropology, sociology, history, ethnic studies, politics, social work, economics, and any field that touches the study of exploitation
  • Civil society members: human rights activists, leaders in non-governmental organizations, and others in the NGO or social advocacy fields
  • Professionals: social workers, corporate social responsibility and business ethics professionals, business leaders, and health care professionals
  • Government actors: representatives, policymakers, lobbyists, and analysts
  • Global citizens with personal connections to slavery or exploitation: former slaves or indentured laborers, members of at-risk populations, migrant or guest workers, non-regularized immigrants, and refugees
We particularly encourage submissions from the Global South.

Potential themes and sub-themes include but are not limited to:
  1. Defining Slavery
    1. What do we mean when we talk about “slavery”
    2. Using “slavery” to obscure other endemic forms of exploitation
    3. Teaching and learning about historic slavery and contemporary forms of exploitation
  2. Slaveries of the Past
    1. Classical (Egyptian, Greco-Roman, etc.) slavery
    2. Conquests and colonization – Aboriginal Australians, indigenous peoples of the New World, dividing and colonizing Africa and Asia
    3. Slaveries in Europe pre-Industrialization, such as villeinage and serfdom
    4. Trans-Atlantic Slavery and the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
    5. Depictions of slaves and slave traders in texts and art during the Abolition Period
    6. Systems of slavery in tribal and traditional societies
    7. WWII and post-WWII forced labor camps
  3. Human Trafficking and other Forms of Contemporary Exploitation
    1. Definitions - Is human trafficking “slavery”
    2. Types of human trafficking (labor trafficking, sex trafficking, organ trafficking, etc.)
    3. Civil society anti-trafficking activism: assessing contemporary initiatives and movements
    4. The role of the nation state:
                                                               i.      Can the nation state enslave? (prison labor, mandated military service, etc.)
                                                             ii.      Anti-trafficking policies and legislation
  1. Systems and Structures of Enslavement and Subordination (historic and contemporary)
    1. Role of slavery in national and global economies
    2. Economic, political, legal structures – their role in enslavement and exploitation
    3. Slavery’s impact on culture and the cultural impacts of historic slavery
  2. Voices of the Enslaved
    1. Slave narratives of the past and present
    2. Descendants’ interpretation of their enslaved and/or slave-holding ancestors
  3. Legacies of Slavery
    1. Identifying and mapping contemporary legacies – economic, social, cultural, psychological (e.g., Post traumatic stress disorder and intergenerational trauma)
    2. Assessment of slavery’s impact – economic, political, other
    3. Commemorations and memorialization of enslavers and/or the enslaved
    4. Legal regimes tacitly designed to perpetuate slavery (e.g., convict leasing)
    5. Legal segregation or discrimination (in housing, education, banking, transportation, etc.)
    6. Racial terror (e.g., lynching, forced removals)
    7. Racial subordination and re-enslavement (e.g., voter disfranchisement, mass incarceration, medical apartheid)
    8. Desecration of burial sites of the enslaved
    9. Destruction of or denial of access to historical information
    10. Lack of memorialization of sacred events/sacred persons/sacred sites
    11. Transitional justice (e.g., reparations, memorialization, restitution)
    12. Limited rights attribution and recognition for Afro-descended peoples
    13. Capacities (and limitations) of domestic and international law in creating, implementing and challenging slavery’s legacies
    14. Built environment (e.g., architecture, historic buildings, cityscapes, borders)
  4. Anti-slavery Initiatives and Movements
    1. Reparations
    2. Economic compensation
    3. Restorative justice
    4. Teaching and learning about slavery
    5. Relationship to the global racial hierarchy
    6. Abolitionism and law: effects and (in)effectiveness
    7. The role of technology and multimedia

Conference Committee: 
  • Karen E. Bravo (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, IN, USA)
  • David Bulla (Augusta University, GA, USA)
  • Ursula Doyle (Northern Kentucky University School of Law, KY, USA)
  • Judith Onwubiko (University of Kent, United Kingdom)
  • Ulrich Pallua (University of Innsbruck, Austria)
  • Sheetal Shah (Webster University, Leiden, The Netherlands)
  • Judith Spicksley (University of Hull, United Kingdom)
Submitting Your Proposal:
Proposals should be submitted no later than Friday, February 28, 2020 to:
·         Karen E. Bravo, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law: kbravo@iupui.edu
·         E-Mail Subject Line: Slavery Past Present & Future 5 Proposal Submission
·         File Format: Microsoft Word (DOC or DOCX)
 The following information must be included in the body of the email:
·         Author(s)
·         Affiliation as you would like it to appear in the conference program
·         Corresponding author email address
 The following information must be in the Microsoft Word file:
·         Title of proposal
·         Body of proposal (maximum of 300 words)
·         Keywords (maximum of ten)
Please keep the following in mind:
·         All text must be in Times New Roman 12.
·         No footnotes or special formatting (bold, underline, or italicization) must be used.

Evaluating Your Proposal
All abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed and you will be notified of the Organizing Committee’s decision no later than Friday, March 20, 2020.  If a positive decision is made, you will be asked to promptly register online. You will be asked to submit a draft paper of no more than 2000 words by Friday, May 8, 2020.
The conference registration fee is 220.
We offer a limited number of fellowships to participants who would otherwise be foreclosed from attending.  The fellowships take the form of registration deferrals.