Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Symposium on Women’s Legal History: A Global Perspective

On October 13-14, 2011, The Institute for Law and the Humanities at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Chicago-Kent Law Review presented "A Symposium on Women’s Legal History: A Global Perspective."  The symposium brought together scholars from across disciplines and is the first conference to highlight academic works in the field of women’s history from a global perspective. Among those who helped push scholarship beyond western-centric paradigms were Adetoun Illumoka (University of Western Ontario) and Susan Hinley (SUNY-Stony Brook). Illumoka’s powerful work, “Globalisation and the Re-Establishment of Women’s Economic and Social Rights in Nigeria: The Role of Legal History,” examines two cases from early 20th century Nigeria to critique the development of a gendered customary law that often wrested control from Nigerian women of the farmlands on which they lived and worked. This played out against a complex background of British imperialism, the common law, and customary law. Illumoka uses feminist legal history and theory to suggest ways to strengthen women’s property rights in current day Nigeria. Hinley presents a fresh vision of the radical pre-World War I women’s movement in her article, “The Global ‘Parliament of Mothers’: History, the Revolutionary Tradition and International Law in the Pre-War Women’s Movement.” Hinley reorients the established academic emphasis on the suffrage movement through her analysis of related yet independent developments in feminist historiography: global histories and the study of pre-war global culture as a precursor to inequalities embedded in contemporary international law. She also demonstrates how some of the most famous freedom fighters such as Ghandi borrowed from the international women’s movement. Both articles will appear in the Spring edition of the Chicago-Kent Law Review.