Saturday, March 17, 2012
2012 Conable Conference in International Studies Refugees, Asylum Law, and Expert Testimony: The Construction of Africa & the Global South in Comparative Perspective
Rochester Institute of Technology, April 12-14, 2012
sylum petitions and refugee status determinations are rich documentary archives tethered to discrete legal contexts – variously, immigration tribunals, courts of appeal, panels of experts or citizen-subjects, according to jurisdiction – by knowledge and expertise. Embedded within asylum and refugee narratives, and their successive iterations in rulings, judgments, country of origin (COI) information, appeals and precedents, are analytical categories, constructed identities, and personal narratives of fear, trauma and violence. And a paradoxical relationship is unfolding, insofar as new knowledge is produced, but it emerges in Western courts and rarely in the Global South.
Expert testimony in support of, and occasionally in opposition to, asylum petitions and refugee status determination, features prominently in North American and European courts and elsewhere. It is well known in the legal community that petitions and appeals accompanied by expert reports have a significantly greater likelihood of success. And just as courts are increasingly drawing upon expert testimony in judicial deliberations about asylum seekers and refugees, expertise is emerging as an academic “niche industry” with attendant standards, protocols and guidelines, mirroring those of legal fields with a longer tradition of expertise, such as patent, copyright and intellectual property. Moreover, while experts may often postulate from a disciplinary locus, the venues featuring and authorities drawing upon expertise increasingly expose scholarship to the interdisciplinarity of law, activism and social justice.
The conference will allow for the presentation of empirical, analytical, and theoretical scholarship from many disciplinary, cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives exploring how experts and legal fora construct or have historically constructed Africa, and expertise pertaining to Africa and the Global South in comparative perspective. Click here for a link to the program.