CfP: The Forgotten Foundations of Feminist Legal Scholarship, Part 2: 1985-1995

by | 29 Aug 2022

Contemporary feminist legal scholarship appears to have no history and almost no canonical texts. Unlike other fields in the humanities and social sciences, there has been an absence of interest in questions of feminist inheritance in law; a certain unwillingness to grapple with feminism’s intellectual and/or textual traditions. Individual studies, however radical or sophisticated in their orientation, appear to be situated in the ‘feminist present’ only, such that the past of legal feminism is void of any heritage worthy of being handed down. 

Yet despite this disregard or disavowal, contemporary feminist legal scholarship rests on the foundations of a corpus of post-war feminist texts. Those texts’ vital power shaped new, creative, and critical modes of thinking, new routes for understanding and reflection that challenged dominant thought inside and outside the academy. They animated multiple ways of revalorising lived experience and the subject’s embodied nature and in so doing raised radical questions about women’s social being. It is the forgetfulness of these earlier texts that these workshops wish to interrogate. The first workshop, held in Summer 2022, focused on feminist theoretical texts produced (mainly) in the years between 1970-1985. The second workshop, to be held in Autumn 2022, will focus on the body of new feminist, feminist legal, critical race feminist, postcolonial feminist and queer legal scholarship that emerged from the mid-1980s to early 1990s. 

In these two one-day workshops we wish to pose as a problem the present of feminist legal scholarship that has not only lost sight of most of these earlier texts, but has left this disconnection from its past to go entirely unnoticed. It is as if what credits feminist legal scholarship with contemporaneity is precisely the erasure of these earlier texts from its horizon. The questions to be addressed include: what is the position of these texts with regards to the present? How should we think of the feminist (legal) texts of the 1970s-90s today? How should we place our contemporary thought in relation to those texts?  How are we to receive these texts today? Why is it that feminist legal scholarship has developed no feminist canon or classical literature while continuing to reference/reverence the work of white male philosophers? In short, are we to reconnect and reconcile with the rich inheritance that feminist thought and practice of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s has bequeathed us? Or should we continue to acknowledge as a sign of our contemporaneity the disjunction with our heritage? 

Call for Paper Proposals

Please send proposals of papers for the second workshop to Maria Drakopoulou (m.drakopoulou@kent.ac.uk) and/or Rosemary Hunter (r.c.hunter@kent.ac.uk). Proposals, including title and abstract of 150-300 words, should be submitted by 16 October 2022.

An indicative list of texts is attached although texts outside this list with justifications for inclusion are welcome.

Limited funding for travel costs may be available for research students and early career researchers. If you would need funding in order to attend, please let us know, with approximate cost, as soon as possible.

Workshop Organisers: Maria Drakopoulou and Rosemary Hunter.

Place: London in person + online for participants unable to travel

Date: 4 November 2022

Indicative texts: Workshop 2

  • Sandra Harding, The Science Question in Feminism (1986).
  • Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses (1986).
  • Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (1987).
  • Teresa de Lauretis, Technologies of Gender (1987).
  • Tove Stang Dahl, Women’s Law: An Introduction to Feminist Jurisprudence (1987).
  • Heidi Hartmann, The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism (1987).
  • Luce Irigiary, Sexes and Genealogies (1987).
  • Catharine A MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law (1987).
  • Milan Librarie delle Donne, Sexual Difference: A Theory of Social-Symbolic Practice (1987).
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (1987).
  • Linda Gordon, Heroes of Their Own Lives (1988).
  • Donna Haraway, ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspectives’, Feminist Studies (1988).
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (1988).
  • Joan Wallache Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (1988).
  • Teresa Brennan, Between Feminism and Psychoanalysis (1989).
  • Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (1989).
  • Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, ‘Demarginalising the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics, University of Chicago Legal Forum (1989).
  • Elizabeth Grosz, Sexual Subversions (1989).
  • Donna Haraway, Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science (1989).
  • bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminism Thinking Black (1989).
  • Luce Irigaray, Thinking the Difference (1989).
  • Catharine A MacKinnon, Towards a Feminist Theory of the State (1989).
  • Carolyn Merchant, Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender and Science in New England (1989).
  • Carol Smart, Feminism and the Power of Law (1989).
  • Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (1990).
  • Angela Y Davis, Women, Culture and Politics (1990).
  • bell hooks, Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics (1990).
  • Luce Irigaray, Je tu nous: Towards a Culture of Difference (1990).
  • Sandra Harding, Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women’s Lives (1991).
  • Luisa Muraro, The Symbolic Order of the Mother (1991).
  • Patricia Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights: The Diary of a Law Professor (1991).
  • Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott, Feminist Theorise the Political (1992).
  • Carol Smart, ‘The Woman of Legal Discourse’, Social & Legal Studies (1992).
  • Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter, Feminist Epistemologies (1993).
  • Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter (1993).
  • Lucy Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference (1993).
  • Ruth Frankenburg, White Women Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness (1993).
  • Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory (1994).
  • Naomi Schor, The Essential Difference (1994).
  • Wendy Brown, States of Injury Power and Freedom in Late Modernity (1995).
  • Drucilla Cornell, The Imaginary Domain Abortion, Pornography and Sexual Harassment (1995).
  • Moira Gatens, Imaginary Bodies Ethics Power and Corporeality (1995).
  • Elizabeth Grosz, Space Time and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies (1995).

2 Comments

  1. Excellent! Also important for inclusion are the International Law with groundbreaking work such as inclusion of rape as a war crime in the International Tribunal on the Former Yugoslavia and the further inclusion in the Rome Statutes for the Formation of the ICC.

    The Women’s Caucus on Gender Justice was active in lobbying for the court.

    Once the Rome Statues were approved in 1998, cases for the forthcoming ICC were launched. The 2000 Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Crimes of Sexual Slavery in Tokyo was one especially prominent accomplishment.

    Another was the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), a global civil society project from 2003-5 to reject, document, and argue both legally and normatively the crimes and violations of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Reply
  2. Excellent. But why did you leave out Kate Bartlett’s 1989 Harvard Law Review essay? On purpose or by accident?

    Reply

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