Tuesday, 16 March 2010

CALL FOR PAPERS: POSTGRADUATE AND EARLY CAREER WORKSHOP WITH PROFESSOR LOIS MCNAY

'Subjects Before the Law: Membership, Recognition and the Religious Dimensions of Women's Citizenship.'Workshop with Professor Lois McNay.

We invite PhD students and Early Career Researchers (no more than 3 years post-viva) from any discipline to apply to participate in a workshop, to take place on Thursday, September 9, 2010. The workshop is hosted by the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights and the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork, Ireland. The workshop is organised as part of an IRCHSS Thematic Project on Gender Equality, Religious Diversity and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Ireland.

The workshop organisers are Eoin Daly and Máiréad Enright.

WORKSHOP THEME

Recent years have witnessed a shift by states away from policies and politics of multiculturalism. Against a background of diminishing state sovereignty, matters of affiliation, allegience, membership and belonging have become important projects for government. Across Europe, transnational and sub-national constellations of belonging are viewed as threatening social cohesion, loosening the ties that bind the nation-state. State responses have been marked by an anxious and exclusionary politics of membership, which seek to restore and re-inscribe the state's role as first or sole sovereign. Religious citizens have appealed to notions of religious rights grounded in law in an effort to bypass or restrict state scrutiny and regulation of group activity.Such attempts can be seen today in debates on the role of Muslim family law, in litigation on the display and wearing of religious symbols and in the regulation of intimate relations and reproductive autonomy. Historically, the demarcation of gender roles has frequently been intertwined with attempts to identify defining attributes of national identity. Thus, new interactions between religious groups and the state in the field of law have particular implications for women, as gender roles and status become intertwined with the boundaries and limits of membership.

The aim of the workshop is to discuss themes and questions such as:
  • What are the implications for women of the shift away from multicultural policies and politics?
  • Can law provide 'refuge' for religion from hostile post-secular politics? How should we imagine the new 'legal turn' in religious engagement with the state?
  • Who is the religious subject before the law? How does the law construct women's religious, cultural and political affiliations? How might it do better?
  • What does recognition theory tell us about the possibilities and limits of religious engagements with law?
  • What are the limits and role of rights discourse in responding to deficiencies in how law 'sees' religion?
  • What shape does the 'public' concept of citizenship take in the regulation of 'private sphere' religious activity?
  • What are the implications of integration and citizenship testing for women? What should be the responses of feminist and human rights discourse to such testing?
  • How useful are concepts of 'multiplicity', 'plurality' and 'intersectionality' to a legal analysis of membership conflicts?
  • Where and how do we locate Ireland in current debates on women's membership, multiculturalism and the law?


PARTICIPATING

If you would like to present a paper, please email corkworkshop2010@gmail.com to express your interest. Your email should cotain:

  • Your position and the name of your university/research centre.
  • A 250 word abstract of the paper you propose to present at the workshop. Your paper should address an aspect of your thesis or other research as it relates to one or more of the questions set out in the workshop theme above.
  • Your CV, including a list of any publications, forthcoming publications and papers presented at other conferences and workshops to date.
  • The title and short description (no more than 250 words) of your current major research topic (PhD candidates should provide details of their thesis)

Participants will commit to:

  • Producing a draft paper (no more than 7,500 words) for circulation to all participants in advance of the workshop.
  • Presenting their paper to the workshop (for 20 - 25 minutes, with time afterwards for questions and discussion)
  • Acting as a discussant for one of the other papers.
  • Reading the other papers in advance of the workshop and participating in the general discussion of other papers.

Deadline for applications: May 1 2010.

Successful applicants notified: May 15 2010.

Deadline for draft papers: July 15 2010.

WORKSHOP FORMAT

The workshop will begin in the morning with a seminar by Professor Lois McNay (Somerville College Oxford), author of Against Recognition, Gender and Agency:Reconfiguring the Subject in Feminist and Social Theory. and Foucault and Feminism: Power, Gender and the Self. We are particularly keen to receive papers which address Professor McNay's work on agency and recognition in some respect.

The seminar will be followed by two sessions in which the participants will present and discuss one another's papers. We plan to restrict participation to a small number group; 6 to 8 at most. We are investigating the possibility that some of the papers will be published after the workshop.

We are in a position to offer a modest grant to participants in the workshop which should cover most if not all of the cost to participants of economy transport to Cork from elsewhere in Ireland, the UK or mainland Europe. We will also provide one night's accommodation in Cork and meals and refreshments on September 9. There is no additional fee for participation.

The workshop is run in conjunction with a one-day international conference 'Gendering the Boundaries of Membership', which will take place in University College Cork on September 10. The conference will feature presentations by a number of prominent scholars working in the area of gender and multiculturalism. Confirmed speakers include Anne Phillips (LSE), Audrey Macklin (University of Toronto), Betty de Hart (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) and Maleiha Malik (King's College London). Workshop participants will be welcome to attend the conference free of charge (some meals will be provided on the day).

All queries should be addressed to corkworkshop2010@gmail.com

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Tuesday, 23 October 2007

The Foy Case

On Friday, October 19th the High Court declared its intention to issue the first ever Declaration of Incompatibility in Irish law. These declarations are allowed for by s. 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 and are to be issued if Irish law is found to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Declaration is to be handed down in the case of Lydia Foy – a dentist who was born male and, prior to transitioning to female, married and had a number of children. She later transitioned including having irreversible surgery partly funded by the state and sought to have her birth certificate altered to identify her as female because of the considerable humiliation and trauma caused when she was required to prove her identity by means of a birth certificate on which she was still identified as male.

In the original action her claim was unsuccessful, however the European Court of Human Rights handed down the Goodwin v United Kingdom decision only two days later and, as a result, the High Court was to rehear the case taking the ECHR into account (as the 2003 Act requires). On this basis the High Court last Friday found that although Irish law was not unconstitutional and although Lydia Foy was not entitled to an altered birth certificate under Irish law, this position was clearly incompatible with the Convention and therefore a Declaration of Incompatibility would be appropriate. The Court gave counsel three weeks to consider the judgment (which does not yet appear to be online) and once the Declaration is issued the Dáil (lower house of parliament) will be required to consider it within 21 days.

This case and the repercussions of the Declaration of Incompatibility are exceptionally important developments in Irish law. First of all, from the perspective of those interested in the real impact that the Convention will have now that it has been incorporated (Ireland is a dualist state under Article 29 of the Constitution) it affords the opportunity to see whether the legislature will in fact respond to the political imperative to legislate for the recognition of the realigned gender of transpersons – it has no domestic legal obligation to do so. From a gender perspective the decision is also important. Irish law has traditionally been strongly gender-structured emanating from a gendered Constitution that includes a provision in Article 41.2 to the effect that “In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved”. Legislating positively in the context of transpersons may well introduce a much needed realignment of gender notions in Irish law – or at least force a (hopefully informed and balanced) debate on the law’s reliance on gender as a classification and the complexities of gender that simple ‘assignment at birth’ policies tend to obscure.

Later this week Tanya ní Mhuirthile, a PhD candidate at the CCJHR whose research focuses on the legal implications of intersexuality, will guest blog a post on Foy and on the implications of this case for Irish law and policy on gender identity.

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