Reflections on ‘The Gendered Imaginaries of Crisis in International Law’ Agora @ the 2016 ESIL Annual Conference, Riga, Latvia

With many thanks to Emily Jones, currently a PhD researcher at SOAS, University of London, who authored this reflection and, along with IntLawgrrls Gina Heathcote, Loveday Hodson, and Bérénice Schramm, as well as Troy Lavers, organized the Gendered Imaginaries of Crisis Agora on behalf of the Feminism and International Law Interest Group of the European Society of International Law.

esil-2016On Friday 9th September, the Feminism and International Law Interest Group of the European Society of International Law (ESIL) held an agora entitled ‘The Gendered Imaginaries of Crisis in International Law.’ The agora session was initially inspired by Hilary Charlesworth’s provocative statement that ‘international lawyers revel in a good crisis. A crisis provides a focus for the development of the discipline and it also allows international lawyers the sense that their work is of immediate, intense relevance.’ In this vein, the agora aimed to disrupt mainstream interpretations and perspectives on crisis as well as remind attendees of the various ways in which gender is implicated in the narratives of crisis. (Agora participants pictured above, from left to right, Bérénice Schramm (chair), Marion Blondel, Dianne Otto, and Jaya Ramji-Nogales; Zeynep Kivilcim is pictured in the Skype screen at the top.)

The agora was bilingual (in both French and English). This bilingualism not only helped to disrupt the increasing dominance of the English language at ESIL but also allowed for a wider array of feminist perspectives to be considered.

The panel began with an intervention by IntLawGrrl Bérénice K. Schramm, the Agora Chair. Bérénice began with a reminder of the many ways in which crisis is utilised globally, not only by international lawyers to revel in but also as a moment for change and resistance, thus disrupting mainstream international legal views of crisis. She also highlighted the many elements of crisis which go unseen, including the sounds and images of crisis, showing pictures of women in Rojava engaging in radical democratic work and drawing on the work of German art collective Maiden Monsters to highlight both the existence of counter images to crises and sounds of crisis and the corollary fact that neoliberalism, from a feminist perspective, is, itself, a crisis.

Bérénice, in her introduction, also read an important statement regarding Turkey. One of the panellists, Zeynep Kivilcim, sadly, was unable to attend the agora in person and was forced to intervene via Skype. This was due to the current political situation in her country and the crack down by the government on academics and academic freedom. As a signatory to the ‘Academics for Peace’ petition‘Academics for Peace’ petition, Zeynep risks being interrogated daily. Bérénice reminded the agora participants of the terrible ongoing situation in Turkey and the need to remember the ways in which crises affect academic work and freedom.

The first paper presented was by Dianne Otto and was entitled ‘Feminist Aspirations and Crisis Law: Navigating Uncomfortable Convergences and New Opportunities.’ Dianne noted the normalisation of crisis in international discourse and the ways in which this spreading atmosphere of crisis has allowed for the expansion of emergency laws and rule by experts and technocrats who often favour neoliberal ends. Her paper went on to highlight the ways in which ‘gender panics’ are also caught up in international discourses on crisis, noting, for example, how the trafficking movement and the panic over preventing sex trafficking has been used, not only to deny women agency and the right to make their own sexual and economic decisions, but also to ignore the wider, structural issues which surround trafficking, including poverty and exploitative labour conditions (noting how the focus on trafficking also works to ignore other migrants). Continue reading

IntLawGrrls@ESIL

Greetings fro1024px-old_riga_buildingsm charming Riga, Latvia, where I’ve just arrived to attend the European Society of International Law’s Annual Meeting.  Happy to see some IntLawGrrls representation on the program, from Anne van Aaken moderating the first panel (How International Law Works in Times of Crisis) to Alice Edwards moderating a panel entitled The Refugee (Law) Crisis.  Perhaps of greatest interest to IntLawGrrls readers will be an Agora moderated by one of our newest members, Bérénice Schramm, on The Gendered Imaginaries of Crisis in International Law, at 11 am on Friday in Diena Hall.  Speakers on this bilingual Agora include Marion Blondel and Zeynep kıvılcım, who will be presenting in French; in English will be the wonderful Diane Otto (who is somehow not yet an IntLawGrrl, but I’ll work on it!) and yours truly.  In her capacity as the coordinator of OLYMPE, which offers a forum for francophone feminist voices in international law, Bérénice has organized a lunch co-sponsored by IntLawGrrls after the Agora.  We encourage IntLawGrrls readers and contributors to come to find me or Bérénice at the end of Agora 8 if you’d like to join us!

Introducing OLYMPE: Francophone Feminist Approaches to IL represent!

P1100700There is obviously no better place than the IntLawGrrls blog to introduce to the anglophone world the first research network for francophone feminist studies in international law, OLYMPE, and its recent first collective publication, released in March, Féminisme(s) et droit international. Études du réseau Olympe.

Founded in January 2014, OLYMPE is a research network gathering more than 80 scholars and practitioners with an interest in feminist approaches to international law in French. Thought broadly, OLYMPE aims at promoting transdisciplinary feminist, gender, LGBTQIA and queer studies in international law (and international relations) in the francophone world where, by contrast to the anglophone world, they are still unknown and institutionally underdeveloped, if not inexistent. Named after Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793), a prominent French feminist figure who used the law as a tool for activism, the network pursues a number of objectives through various events, research publications and scientific watch and diffusion. OLYMPE seeks to introduce feminist approaches to international law and international relations in the francophone world and engage in a critical discussion of it using the abundant francophone feminist tradition in order to contribute to new developments in the field, in French and in English. It also actively fosters an inclusive approach to gender at the normative and institutional levels in international law in order to reinforce social and economic equality of individuals notwithstanding their gender identity or sexual orientation: it therefore promotes gender as an explicit and inescapable element of international policy-making. Aware of the limits and obstacles generated by “gender mainstreaming”, OLYMPE wishes through its activities to question the global dimensions of what is nowadays called feminist governance. Last but not least, OLYMPE is an institutional platform around which a network of scholars, practitioners and any other professionals interested in those issues can organize in order to contribute to the implementation of the objectives listed above.

As the coordinator of OLYMPE, it is therefore my very pleasure to give you a first introduction to the network and its activities in the hope that you join it or share its existence around you (website; facebook). While being a francophone network, its members do not have to be French-speaking to join (although it might help as we do share some information in French); all in all, an interest in French-speaking feminist research in international law (and relations) suffices! OLYMPE is happy to relay any information regarding future conferences or calls in English or any other language, as long as it is related to feminist/women’s/gender/lgbtqia/queer studies in international law (and relations). To become a member or for any other query or communication, please feel free to get in touch with me via email (berenice.schramm@graduateinstitute.ch).

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