Panels and Presentations
Emily Grabham - “The Crafty Power of Text: A Feminist Ethnography of legislative Drafting”
Professor Emily Grabham (University of Kent, UK) is a socio-legal scholar whose work draws on methods and perspectives from sociology and social anthropology. Her research explores law and time, labour regulation, and more recently, legislative drafting. She is the author of Brewing Legal Times: Things, Form and the Enactment of Law (University of Toronto Press, 2016) and co-editor with Siân Beynon-Jones of Law and Time (Routledge, 2019). She is collaborating with colleagues from law and psycho-social studies on an interdisciplinary ESRC-funded project exploring the future of regulating gender in the UK (Future of Legal Gender). Her publications on legislative drafting include ‘Time & Technique: The Legal Lives of the 26 Week Qualifying Period’ (Economy & Society, 2016) and ‘Exploring the Textual Alchemy of Legal Gender: Experimental Statutes and the Message in the Medium’ (feminists@law, 2020). She is the recipient of a 2020 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Law, as well as book and article prizes from the Socio-Legal Studies Association.
This conference asks exciting questions about the relationship between law, gender and collectivity. I hope to engage with the conference themes by sharing my early work developing a feminist ethnography of legislative drafting. Why should feminists care about how legislation is written? Isn’t drafting merely about the expression of much more important social decisions? In this paper, I will suggest that analysing drafting is important because it helps us to understand the power of text and language to shape social and legal ontologies of gender. It also matters because feminists in a range of jurisdictions (e.g. Ireland, the UK) are beginning to seize the power of legislative text in writing their own statutes to show that feminist and queers ways of ‘doing law’ are possible.
Feminists from the second wave onwards have engaged with the power of language in producing gender and gendering epistemologies (e.g. Spender 1980). Feminist legal scholars have proposed that this power is akin to a type of “magic” (Martyna 1980; Cloatre 2021) or “alchemy” (Grabham 2020). They took up this power in challenging gendering terms in law throughout the 1970s-2000s (Ritchie 1975, 77; Mossman 1995), and the debate continues into the present moment, where we find controversy about the ‘inclusion’ of non-binary and trans individuals within legal frameworks and/or the potential effects of de-certifying gender in law (FLaG project).
Yet whilst feminists have thought about legal language as “magic”, legislative drafters deny that they are ‘creating’ law, substantively or politically. Alain Pottage has recently described this reticence amongst drafters to acknowledge the material power of legislative text as playing the role of ‘juridical ‘shadow’ to political ‘substance’ (Pottage 2020, 4). An ethnography of legislative drafting might seek to understand how it comes to be that the legislative text, and the work of creating it, is understood to be separate from, and subservient to, something else, understood to be the text’s political or substantive purpose.
In this keynote, I intend to sketch some of the questions I have been thinking about in constructing a feminist ethnography of legislative drafting. These relate to the creative power of legislative text, drafting as authorship, the legal form and materiality of statutes and epistemologies of intelligibility. I look forward to sharing questions and concepts with you, across jurisdictions, about the power of language, text, and gender.
 Example: the experimental statute produced by the Future of Legal Gender project and the Feminist Constitutional Futures for Northern Ireland project.
PANEL I : Law – Gender – Knowledge: Spaces and Demarcations
We are interested in the boundaries set and encountered by the law. How do legal practices create gendered spaces and thus also boundaries? Where does the discussion surrounding law call into question ontologies of humankind, nature, and technology?
Cornelia Klocker - Mapping the language of discrimination cases: the terminology of “groups” in the European Court of Human Rights
Cornelia Klocker (Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz)
Mapping the language of discrimination cases: the terminology of “groups” in the European Court of Human Rights
This paper presents an overview of the European Court of Human Rights’ case law on non-discrimination mapping the language used for affected collectivities Although prohibitions of discrimination list a number of abstract categories, behind these categories such as “sex” or “other status” stands a broad range of diverse collectivities. The Court has started to describe the collectivities encountered in the cases brought before it, yet it is not the only actor in the courtroom. The paper puts a focus on applicants’ voices and their understanding of terms such as “group”, “community” and “minority” in discrimination cases.
Maria Sagmeister - Rethinking collectivity in labour law protection. Making working mothers the benchmark
Maria Sagmeister (University Vienna)
Rethinking collectivity in labour law protection. Making working mothers the benchmark
Taking the labour protection rights of working parents as a starting point, I discuss how a more inclusive version of collectivity within labour law might look like. My approach is informed by intersectionality theory’s demand to set the apparent deviation as the norm. If legal measures take the potentially most affected group as a benchmark, those who are less affected will benefit just as much. In the context of employees with care responsibilities, this means taking birthmothers as the starting point and extending all rights that are necessary for their protection to all working parents.
Sébastien Tremblay - When gay memory silences lesbians: A visual intellectual history of the legal erasure of female oppression in the homosexual memory of National Socialism.
Sébastien Tremblay (Freie Universität Berlin)
When gay memory silences lesbians: A visual intellectual history of the legal erasure of female oppression in the homosexual memory of National Socialism.
This paper will tackle difficult and ongoing conversations in German homosexual historiography and the clashes between lesbian and gay interpretations of the National Socialist era. It focuses on the legal recognition of victimhood at the end of the twentieth century, examining National Socialist persecutions and underlining how a visual intellectual history of the creation of the male homosexual subject sheds lights on the silencing of female homosexual voices. In order to do so, this paper follows key moments of one symbol, the Pink Triangle, and its discursive effects, particularly its connection to identity, semantics, and collective memory. An analysis of the symbol will offer a reflection on lesbian erasure and the importance of memory studies for our writing of German queer history.
PANEL II : Collective Strategies: Dynamics and Processes of Collectivization
Jan-Christoph Marschelke - Doing collectivity. What´s behind the notion of “practices of collectivization”?
Jan-Christoph Marschelke (University of Regensburg)
Doing collectivity. What´s behind the notion of “practices of collectivization”?
Can we avoid reifying concepts of collectivities if we talk of “practices of collectivization” instead? I argue we can, but only if we avoid some pitfalls which beset its compounds: both ‘practice’ and ‘collectivity’ are contested concepts often used in a vague manner. So, on the one hand, we need to distinguish the inherent collectivity of practices from collectivities (re)produced through practices – collectivities as different as categories, small groups or vast organizations. On the other hand, we will fall back into reification (this time of practices, and thus everything produced by them, e.g. collectivities) if we do not consistently address three issues: the connection between collectivization, subjectivation and normativity, the multicollectivity of practitioners, and the entanglement of practices.
Lisa Hahn - Collectivity in court: Legal mobilization through ‘litigation collectives’benchmark
Lisa Hahn (Ph.D. candidate at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Law Faculty)
Collectivity in court: Legal mobilization through ‘litigation collectives’
The right to equal and effective access to justice faces numerous hurdles in its implementation. My contribution argues that strategic human rights litigation is a particular mode of collective legal mobilization that responds to such hurdles, thereby facilitating access to justice. It does so through ‘litigation collectives’, collaborations of various actors like claimants, lawyers, NGOs and academics. ‘Litigation collectives’ are interdisciplinary projects that jointly produce expertise required in complex court cases. This ultimately allows them to disrupt structural hurdles of legal mobilization and create spaces of solidarity.
Smitha Sasidharan Nair - Creating Spaces and Gendering Law: Examining the collective action by Women’s Health Movement in India
Smitha Sasidharan Nair (Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai)
Creating Spaces and Gendering Law: Examining the collective action by Women’s Health Movement in India
Internationally and nationally there is a recognition that reproductive rights as a human right essential for achieving gender equality. Over the last two decades the Supreme Court and High Courts in India has issued many ground breaking verdicts that have established that reproductive rights are fundamental to achieve the Right to life guaranteed by the constitution of India. This has been hailed as a victory for women’s rights in India. Inspite of the importance and focus on reproductive rights in India many women’s groups that are part of the women’s health movement remain guarded and critical of the dominant narrative around reproductive rights which they argue remains within patriarchal dictates of the states.
PANEL III : Law – Gender – Individualization and Collectivization
Karsten Schubert - From Homonormativity to Queer Collectivity. PrEP and a Foucauldian Theory of Sexual Liberation.
Dr. Karsten Schubert is Lecturer in Political Theory and Philosophy at the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg. His work focuses on contemporary critical political theory and social philosophy, Michel Foucault, radical democracy, legal critique, biopolitics, queer and gay theory, and intersectionality. Currently, he researches at the intersection of radical democratic thought and identity politics. Prior to that he received his PhD in philosophy at the University of Leipzig. His book “Freedom as Critique. Social Philosophy after Foucault” (2018, in German) was published with transcript.
A New Era of Queer Politics? PrEP, Foucauldian Sexual Liberation, and the Overcoming of Homonormativity
Gay men have been severely affected by the AIDS crisis, and gay subjectivity, sexual ethics, and politics continue to be deeply influenced by HIV to this day. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a new, drug-based HIV prevention technique, that allows disentangling gay sex from its widespread, 40 yearlong association with illness and death. This paper explores PrEP’s fundamental impact on gay subjectivity, collectivity, sexual ethics, and politics. It traces the genealogy of gay politics regarding homophobia and HIV stigma and shows how conservative and homonormative gay politics developed as a reaction to HIV stigma and how, by overcoming this stigma, PrEP enables a new era of intersectional queer collectivities and solidarities. Based on the case of PrEP, the paper proposes a new Foucauldian account of sexual liberation beyond the repression hypothesis that accounts for the ambivalence of sexual subjectification and the political potential of sexuality by differentiating four dimensions of sexual liberation: negative, ethical, democratic, and political.
Fiona Schmidt - Investigating the 'Other'. Institutional Racism and Masculinities in the Police.
Fiona Schmidt (PhD student at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Investigating the ‘Other’. Institutional Racism and Masculinities in the Police.
The presentation examines intersectional othering processes in criminal investigations by the police in Germany based on a case study from the NSU-complex. The police, as guardians of the state’s monopoly on the use of force, are embedded in and an active part of shaping social relations of dominance. Thereupon the presentation explores how institutional racism and norms of masculinities in the police shape and influence criminal investigations by re-/producing assumptions about individual and collective affiliations.
Urmila Goel - Campaigning for their right to work and stay in 1977 – Experiences from the recruitment of Asian nurses in West Germany
Urmila Goel (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Campaigning for their right to work and stay in 1977 – Experiences from the recruitment of Asian nurses in West Germany
In the paper I will explore the linkages between nurse recruitment from India and South Korea to West Germany in the 1960s and 70s, its legal and bureaucratic organisation, the forms of collective campaigning against the threat of deportation in 1977 and different memories of this. In this the gendered nature of the migration, gendered arguments in the campaigning and in memory will be central.
DGS – German Sign-Language Interpretation
We are happy to offer German Sign-Language Interpretation (DGS). Until the end of the registration phase, we could not determine any requirement. Nevertheless, we decided to provide this service for the public parts of the program. Due to technicalities, we hope for your understanding not to be able to provide interpretation during the panels without registration.
Her activism includes an honorary position on the board of the Berlin Initiative for Quality Interpreting in Migration and Refugee Settings. A former board member of the Bavarian, and the Berlin Sign Language Interpreters Association, she holds an MA from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universtät, Munich.