Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Monday, January 29, 2018
Professor Osamudia James of the University of Miami School of Law recently published "Valuing Identity" in the Minnesota Law Review. Using Black identity as an example, she argues that identity politics are "[m]ore than just a useful vehicle for antidiscrimination efforts[;] [they] are also important social goods, central to a properly functioning democracy, and integral to political and social resilience among minoritized identity groups." Professor James critiques American courts for adopting "'colorblind' legal analysis" and proposes that they move beyond framing racial identity in negative terms such as stigmatic harm and focus on the positive aspects of identity for minoritized groups.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The University of Vermont School of Law is hosting the International Restorative Justice Conference on June 28-30, 2018 in Burlington, Vermont. Below is a summary of the conference. The Call for Papers (deadline is February 1, 2018), is available here.
Globally our most pressing challenges reveal in poignant fashion our interconnection and interdependence. Our lives are shaped by relationships at many levels: interpersonal, in community and with the environment. A restorative approach holds significant promise to meet the global need for healing and transformation in these fundamental relations on the earth, in communities, and with one another and the ways in which they are intertwined. This conference will bring together researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to share the difference a restorative approach makes and consider its potential to reveal and address the complex and relational nature of some of our greatest problems and challenges. Come be a part of this important learning opportunity including a rich blend of hands-on learning through workshops, panels, presentations and keynote addresses. The conference will focus on three areas that reflect the levels of relationship that are so interconnected and central to building a better world:
The impact of climate change and environmental disasters are felt most acutely by the most vulnerable and marginalized in our societies who have fewer resources to protect and with which to recover from these harms. The distribution of our natural resources and access to environmental security also reflect significant social inequalities resulting in patterns of environmental racism and injustice. The depth and significance of our interdependence with the environment has perhaps never been so apparent or demanded so much care and attention.
ADDRESSING HARM AND CONFLICT
Including interpersonal violence with a particular focus on the seemingly intractable challenge of addressing domestic violence and sexual assault. The conference is an opportunity to attend to the social and political nature of interpersonal violence and the contexts and inequality that continue to generate vulnerability and hear and consider the preliminary results from the recently funded US Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women survey of programs across the country that are focused on individual, family, or community healing when responding to domestic violence and/or sexual assault. This overarching theme will also examine a restorative approach in the contexts of criminal and youth justice, and family engagement practices.
BUILDING SAFE, HEALTHY AND INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES
In collaboration with leaders from the Restorative International Learning Community who are exploring the possibility and potential of restorative communities committed to implementing a restorative approach to governance and across human services in proactive, preventative and responsive ways. Under the umbrella of building safe, healthy and inclusive communities multiple elements will be examined including education, leadership and policy, and human resources.
Addressing the problems and challenges in any of these areas requires careful attention to the structures, systems and institutions in and through which we live, work and play. The potential of a restorative approach to any and all of these challenges will require a consideration of the difference it makes within existing systems and institutions.
This conference will be an important and timely gathering of leaders in each of these areas to share cutting edge research and work through the lens of a restorative approach. It will address the intersection and interplay of our relationships at all these levels – interpersonal, the social in community and environmental – and the potential of a restorative approach to respond to the resulting complexity.
Plenary presentations will explore these key relations and their interconnection. Workshop and training sessions will provide opportunities to focus on targeted topics and network with colleagues and partners from around the globe.
The Call for Proposals is available here. (Deadline is February 1, 2018)
Monday, January 15, 2018
In her new law review article, How Women Could Save the World, Professor Catherine Powell investigates the oft-made claim that women's empowerment is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do for global and economic security. This idea – which underpins law and policy in the women, peace, and security field – is of heightened importance today because, with the #MeToo movement, we are reminded that women are vastly underrepresented in leadership positions and have yet to "shatter that highest and hardest glass ceiling" as U.S. Commander-in-Chief. Moreover, such claims raise fundamental questions for international law, equality theory, and feminism.
Reviewing new research, this Article argues that while some evidence supports instrumentalist claims to increase women’s participation in peace and security, the quantitative data underlying the claims suffers from methodological flaws. Plus, the forms of gender performance reflected in the data – for example, correlating women’s participation in international peace processes to more sustainable peace – are based on the socially constructed (not inherent) roles that (some) women play as caregivers, nurturers, and collaborators.
Conclusions gleaned from this data often rely on essentialist observations about women as being more pacifist than men. Having to maneuver around formal equality, on the one hand, and instrumentalist claims that women will "save" the world, on the other, means that the category of "woman" can restrict even as it liberates. After all, not all women are "peace-loving," particularly in a world where the women who succeed are often those who can succeed on macho terms defined by men. Borrowing the notion of democratic legitimacy, the Article develops a novel third approach missing from the security debate, which could reframe the notion of inclusive security and would center grassroots women in local conflict zones over professional feminists from the West.
How Women Could Save the World, If only We Would Let Them: From Gender Essentialism to Inclusive Security is published in the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, and can be downloaded here.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Professors Jeffrey Fagan and Elliot Ash's article "New Policing, New Segregation: From Ferguson to New York" was recently published in the Georgetown Law Journal.
Here is the abstract to this timely article:
Modern policing emphasizes advanced statistical metrics, new forms of organizational accountability, and aggressive tactical enforcement of minor crimes as the core of its institutional design. Recent policing research has shown how this policing regime has been woven into the social, political and legal systems in urban areas, but there has been little attention to these policing regimes in smaller areas.
In these places, where relationships between citizens, courts and police are more intimate and granular, and local boundaries are closely spaced with considerable flow of persons through spaces, the “new policing” has reached deeply into the everyday lives of predominantly non-white citizens through multiple contacts that lead to an array of legal financial obligations including a wide array of fines and fees. Failure to pay these fees often leads to criminal liability. We examine two faces of modern policing, comparing the Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.
We analyze rich and detailed panel data from both places on police stops, citations, warrants, arrests, court dispositions, and penalties, to show the web of social control and legal burdens that these practices create. The data paint a detailed picture of racially discriminatory outcomes at all stages of the process that are common to these two very different social contexts. We link the evidence on the spatial concentration of the racial skew in these policing regimes to patterns of social and spatial segregation, and in turn, to the social, economic and health implications for mobility. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of the “new policing” for constitutional regulation and political reform.
To download the article, click here.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
A Responsibility to Share What We Know
December 23, 2017
On our last night in Jordan, we dined with a Jordanian political science professor who received his PhD from the United States. He currently teaches courses on the refugee crisis and serves as a leader in his tribe. He spoke to us about the history of the Middle East, the U.S.’ involvement in the myriad political crises in the region, and the richness of his tribal traditions. I was struck by the disruptive effect of the artificial borders drawn between Jordan and Syria by European powers during colonization. Tribes and families were split apart when they suddenly found themselves citizens of different states for which they had no say.
Nonetheless, the family links between the two countries remain strong. People with whom we’ve spoken, including this professor, will say they have thousands of family members scattered across the Levant and the Gulf states, divided by arbitrary lines drawn in the sand. When the Syrian crisis started, the professor’s hometown more than doubled in size as his town accepted their Syrian refugee family members.
After dinner, the professor led us on a tour of downtown Amman, pointing out shops laden with spices, toys and crafts as we strolled down streets strung with lights. We tasted, knafeh, a Middle Eastern dessert for which Jordan is especially famous. He invited us, multiple times, to his home to meet his family the next time we visited Jordan. Receiving such hospitality is humbling; and learning from the wisdom accumulated through generations of life in Jordan, a wisdom that is inaccessible in the U.S., is a privilege.
When I reflect on the unique perspective I’ve gained in our 10-day visit to Jordan, I am filled with gratitude. So few people in the U.S. are provided with opportunities like the one we’ve experienced this week: traveling to the Middle East, experiencing a new culture firsthand, and, above all, engaging in meaningful conversations with the people who live there so that we may learn from their points of view.
Our experiences have provided us with insights that make for a more humane approach to tackling the massive problems in our world. Imagine how different our public discourse on the Syrian refugee crisis, and the Middle East writ large, would be if more of our policymakers, and ordinary Americans like me, had an opportunity to build mutual understanding of the humanity of those deemed the “other?” To be sure, it would counter the human tendency to mistakenly classify Arabs and Muslims into homogenous boxes.
Traveling requires humility. As a white Christian traveling in a majority Muslim, Arab country, I have felt keenly aware of not being completely on the “inside,” not understanding all the cues, not speaking a common language, literally and metaphorically. And yet, our hosts went out of their way to make me feel welcome. It’s a humbling experience, a tiny glimpse into what it’s like to be a member of a minority group. It requires modesty to understand more deeply the ways I take for granted the privileges of being a member of the majority in my daily life in the United States. The learning that happens while traveling requires openness and a willingness to allow your perspective to be shifted. There’s growth in allowing yourself to be proven wrong, in admitting that your framework of the world isn’t necessarily accurate.
Our role now is to share the knowledge and experiences we’ve gained here with an audience in the U.S. who has not had the opportunity to learn from those on the ground most affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. Each of us on this trip has been shaped by this experience in ways that will reverberate throughout our careers and lives. It is both our privilege and our responsibility to multiply the benefits of this experience by passing on the knowledge we’ve gained.
Just as the Jordanian professor shared his reality with us in a way that enlightened our understanding of the complexities in Jordan and challenged us to change our perspective, we are now empowered to shape the perspectives of others in America. Person by person, one interaction and one conversation at a time, we can change minds and hearts, slowly building a global community of that will create more humane American policies and a more just world.
-- Joanna Gardner, Rutgers Law School, Class of 2019