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Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context

Global Workshop ‘Provincializing Euro-American Feminism: Rethinking the Relationship between Feminism, Colonialism and Governance’

When: Friday, October 8, 2021, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Where: Online

Hosted by the Institute for the Humanities and the Social Sciences and the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context at Queen Mary University of London.

Euro-American feminism has a complex history of both contesting and colluding with empire. Feminist efforts to liberate women not only often omitted racialized and colonized people but even cemented their marginalization. Whether the motivation was to protect white women from black men or to save Indian women from widow immolation, these imperial ties have often been eclipsed in the standard narration of feminist history as three or four waves that celebrate the struggles of feminists in Europe and North America. In law, the relationship between feminism and governance has come under scrutiny through the concept of ‘governance feminism’. 'Governance feminism' was coined by feminist scholars at Harvard University and describes how feminists began ‘to walk the halls of power’ in the 1990s as diplomats, lawyers and NGO advocates using law and institutional access to achieve feminist gains (Halley et al., 2018). Its starting point is the turn of American feminists to criminal and social control visions of law in the 1990s and it follows this development ‘from the international to the local’. Yet, in doing so, 'governance feminism' arguably forecloses a much broader geographical and historical exploration of feminisms’ entanglement with empire and colonialism. It also risks reproducing Euro-America as the site of theory production and feminist political struggle while relegating the Global South to a site of mere theory application and political imitation. The workshop explores Halley et al.’s concept of ‘governance feminism’, and the postcolonial and TWAIL (Third World Approaches to International Law) critique, but also raises broader questions about feminist engagements with state institutions and colonial projects, and their alternatives, including more radical feminist futures based on indigenous conceptualizations of life, politics and justice or experiments with feminist community beyond the nation-state and the capitalist economy.

This event has been organized by Leila Ullrich (Law), Sydney Calkin (Geography) and Claire English (Business & Management) and is generously supported through an early career network grant by the Institute for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (IHSS).


Professor Vasuki Nesiah (NYU), Professor Ratna Kapur (QMUL), Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian (Queen Mary), Dilar Dirik (Oxford), and Silvana Tapia Tapia (Universidad del Azuay).

Biographies of Speakers

Ratna Kapur is a Professor of International Law at Queen Mary University of London. She is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Human Rights and Global Studies, Symbiosis School of Law, Pune, India and a Senior Core Faculty, with the Institute of Global Law and Policy Institute, Harvard Law School. Professor Kapur has taught and published extensively on issues of human rights, with a particular focus on gender, and the rights of sexual and religious minority. She brings a critical theoretical approach to her courses and scholarship that draw on the tradition of Third World Approaches to Human Rights (TWAIL), feminist legal theory and Postcolonial theory. Her most recent book is Gender, Alterity and Human Rights: Freedom in a Fishbowl (2018) where she interrogates human rights as a project of freedom through a critical evaluation and analysis of scholarship and advocacy on LGBT rights, campaigns against violence against women, and gender equality interventions in the context of the Islamic veil bans in Europe. She provocatively argues in favor of exploring non-liberal approaches to freedom and futurity of human rights within such a proposal.

Vasuki Nesiah is a Professor of Practice at NYU with a focus on public international law. Her main areas of research include the law and politics of international human rights and humanitarianism, with a particular focus on transitional justice. She has published widely on the history and politics of human rights, humanitarianism, international criminal law, international feminisms and colonial legal history. These continue to be areas of research and writing but the primary focus of her current research is reparations. A volume which she co-edited with Luis Eslava and Michael Fakhri, Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. This work reflects her continued interest in critical approaches to international law that find their intellectual and political home in the global south and in the grappling with decolonization. She is one of the founding members of the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and has continued as an active participant in this global network of scholars for over two decades.

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian is Chair in Global Law at Queen Mary University of London and the Lawrence D. Biele Chair in Law at the Faculty of Law-Institute of Criminology and the School of Social Work and Public Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on trauma, state crimes and criminology, surveillance, gender violence, law and society, and genocide studies. She has authored numerous books, including Militarization and Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: The Palestinian Case Study (2010) and Security Theology, Surveillance and the Politics of Fear (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She recently published a book examining Palestinian childhood, entitled Incarcerated Childhood and the Politics of Unchilding, and an edited volume, Understanding Campus-Community Partnerships in Conflict Zones. Currently, she is co-editing a book on Islam and gender-based violence.

Dilar Dirik is the Joyce Pearce Junior Research Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, a post held in conjunction with the Refugee Studies Centre. She holds a BA in History and Political Science with a minor in Philosophy and an MA in International Studies. Dilar studied for her PhD in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Building on her past work on revolutionary women's struggles, freedom concepts and radical democracy in Kurdistan, her research at the RSC focuses on two timely issues around displacement in the Middle East region. Her first project considers layers of statelessness and self-determination by focusing on autonomously-run refugee camps in the majority Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria and the different ways in which they relate to local self-declared self-governing institutions. What can we learn about democracy beyond the nation-state by looking at alternative practices of self-determination that challenge dominant international structures? Secondly, Dilar researches women’s quests for justice in the aftermath of the violence inflicted by the so-called Islamic State group. In general, she is interested in investigating the intersections between state/statelessness, knowledge, and power from feminist, revolutionary and non-state/indigenous perspectives.

Silvana Tapia Tapia is Assistant Professor and Research Coordinator at the Faculty of Legal Sciences, Universidad del Azuay. She has a PhD in Socio-Legal Studies from the University of Kent, United Kingdom, a master's in criminal law, a specialist certificate in teaching for higher education, and a bachelor’s in Law from Universidad del Azuay, Ecuador. In 2019 she was awarded a vanguard scholar fellowship by the University of Birmingham, and in 2021 she was awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to conduct a comparative study of the European and Inter-American human rights systems in relation to violence against women and penal expansion. Her work uses qualitative sociological and anthropological methods to understand and question the role of criminal law in people's lives, particularly survivors of gender-based violence. She is part of anti-carceral collectives such as Alianza Contra las Prisiones (Ecuador). She has published in internationally renowned academic journals such as Feminist Theory, Social and Legal Studies, and Feminist Legal Studies. She is a member of the Ecuadorian Network of Women Scientists, the Ecuadorian Network of Women Researchers in Social Sciences, the Law and Society Association (USA) and the Socio-Legal Studies Association (UK).

**Please note this is an online event and that all registrants will be sent joining details on the day.

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