CfP: “Left” in the Dark? Postcolonial Conversations on Law, Neoliberalism and Queer-Feminist Futures, Jindal Global Law School, Conference 15–18 October 2014

by | 19 Feb 2014

Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat & NEW DELHI, India

The artwork for "Left" in the Dark? has been created by Anirban Ghosh

The artwork for “Left” in the Dark? has been created by Anirban Ghosh

“In the dark times will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing about the dark times.”
— Bertolt Brecht

“Where should we go after the last frontiers?
Where should the birds fly after the last sky?
Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air?”
—Mahmoud Darwish

The dark times of neoliberalism are not only about the devastation that hyper-capitalism has unleashed on the living and labouring “precariat” (Guy Standing: 2011). It is also about the ways in which neoliberalism and its misogynist vicissitudes in imperial-militarism are appropriating the agendas of left movements, marking the emergence of their own dark sides. Many left movements — particularly the queer and feminist movements — have been at the receiving end of a sophisticated co-option of their politics by the seductions of neoliberal capital and secular law, especially in postcolonial and settler colonial nation-states.

Agency, autonomy and pleasure continue to be the queer-feminist emancipatory buzzwords, just as their articulation is being increasingly decorated in the celebratory attire of individuation and responsibilisation (Cossman: 2007). In addition, collective action in queer-feminist politics, and its alliances with other social justice movements have been deeply fractured through neoliberalism’s assaults, as well as through its complicity in neoliberal agendas. As a result, there is a sense of despair that has overtaken the ranks.

The complicities and contradictions of queer-feminist politics demands a revisiting of its positions as well as a taking account of its failures. This requires a committed engagement in the task of asking and answering (at least attempting to) hard questions: why have progressive political projects produced so little in terms of change and transformation, while the neoliberal market and state legalism appears to be offering so much more to formerly stigmatised and oppressed groups? Is queer-feminism partly to blame for the current disconnect between the goals of its progressive politics and the options afforded by the market? Have we reached a moment when, as Janet Halley has written, it is time to take a break from feminism (Split Decisions, 2006)? Or is it time to take a break from specific kinds of feminism? Anglo-American Feminism? Dominance Feminism? Omnipotent Feminism? Should we also take a break from similar conservative avatars of queer politics: from queer imperialism? Queer Islamophobia? Queer racism? Queer orientalism? From ‘Pinkwashing’ and ‘Homonationalism’? (Puar: 2007; Schulman: 2012)

What are the possibilities then for queer-feminist activism and theory in accounting for failure: To what extent do they remain sites of both excitement as well as trouble? While refusing to relinquish engagement with the terrain of gender or sex, what theoretical possibilities exist to recapture the radical/disruptive or affective dimensions of these notions? How do we rethink our politics in the neoliberal academic space while intellectually engaging with queer-feminism on the one hand, and serving the ends of global capital on the other?

This international conference seeks to address these concerns by entering into a conversation about sex and gender politics in post/ settler colonial spaces, in neo-liberal times. While law, legalism and the juridical will remain some of the central sites of critical inquiry, the conference is committedly interdisciplinary in its orientation.

The conference is being organised in continuation of the project inaugurated by the Jindal Global Law Review‘s special double issue themed ‘Law, Culture and Queer Politics in Neoliberal Times’, whose two parts were published in August 2012 and November 2013 respectively.

Janet Halley, Royall Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

The conference will be organised over four days from October 15–18, 2014 at the campus of the Jindal Global Law School in Sonipat and venues in New Delhi. On the first two days, there will be a research workshop themed ‘Doing Law Differently: The Possibilities, Perils and Pleasures of Critical Legal Scholarship’, for doctoral scholars and early career academics. The workshop will be an opportunity to get detailed feedback from established scholars and peers on works-in-progress and also plan an innovative publication programme with the participants. The subsequent two days will consist of paper presentations, roundtables, and performances.

We invite paper abstracts and panel proposals on the following topics, as long as they remain committed to the larger political project of the conference. This list is merely indicative.

  • The persistence of sexual violence
  • Human rights law in a neoliberal world
  • Freedom, productivity, the market
  • Sex(ual) labour/ putting sex to work
  • Pleasure, hedonism, desire, rights
  • Solidarities, fissures, collective struggles
  • The elastic state
  • Scholarship, activism and its neoliberal complicities
  • Location, voice, representation and the postcolonial
  • Taking a Break – possibilities and perils
  • Queer-feminist scholarship in the neoliberal legal academy
  • Failure, despair, redemption
  • Affect, anarchy, aesthetics
  • (Trans)bodies, (dis)abilities, (il)legalities
  • Contamination, contagion, virality

Paper abstracts must not be more than 500 words long. Panel proposals must not be more than 1000 words long, and must carry the names of 4 panelists (which will include the panel organizer), and a tentative indication of what each panelist will speak on. Innovative panel formats (incorporating alternative modes of engagement like performances, posters etc.) are welcome. For those interested in the Research Workshop, in addition to the paper abstract, please send us a 500 words long synopsis of a research project that you are currently engaged in that is committed to developing heterodox and critical approaches to doing legal scholarship.

Submission Guidelines

All submissions must contain the name/s, affiliation/s, full postal address, telephone or mobile number, and email of the applicant. A special issue of a journal or an edited book volume will be published using select papers from the conference.


Organisers will provide accommodation and food for the days of the conference. Participants are expected to cover travel costs. Some travel bursaries may be available for participants who are based at universities in non-Western locations. Please indicate in your application whether you will require travel support.


Please send your submissions to and by March 31, 2014. Participants who are selected for the Research Workshop must send in their draft papers by August 30, 2014.


Centre for Health, Law, and Ethics and the Collaborative Research Programme on Law, Culture and Postcoloniality, through the Global Justice Programme, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University


  • Dipika Jain
    Associate Professor and Executive Director, Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Technology, Jindal Global Law School.
  • Oishik Sircar
    Doctoral Scholar and Teaching Fellow, Melbourne Law School, and Honorary Research Fellow, Jindal Global Law School.


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