Thursday, June 20, 2013

CFP: Law, Peace, and Violence

The symposium "Law, Peace, and Violence: Jurisprudence and the Possibilities of Peace" will be held at Seattle University School of Law on March 14, 2014.  It is organized by Professor Yxta Murray of Loyola Law School and hosted by the Seattle Journal of Social Justice.
Can the law help forge a more peaceful world? In this symposium, legal scholars will study law’s potential to increase domestic and international peace. We will also focus on the problems that peace rhetoric creates for rights developments, particularly in the ways that it is used to marginalize outsiders’ direct action efforts.
[The Call for Papers continues:] Nonviolent resistance often rebels against the rule of law. Étienne de La Boétie described this conflict in 1553, noting the dissenter "can deliver [herself] if [she] tr[ies], not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. . . . I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer." Similarly, in 1849's Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau maintained "I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest." On the other hand, Frantz Fanon suggested that colonized peoples have a right to use violence to resist oppression, and his work has inspired anti-colonial and anti-racist activists around the world, including in the Black liberation movement in the United States.

Where does the peacemaking lawyer exist in this politics? For those who object to U.S. and international law's ignorance (or even support) of poverty, rape, war, homophobia, colonialism, domestic violence, and racism, operating within legal institutions often seems unproductive. Can we incorporate peace activism and theory into our practices and jurisprudence? Or is peaceful resistance – and even the concept of peace -- anti-law?

Furthermore, does peaceful protest and rhetoric pose special hazards to vulnerable groups? For example, consider Malcolm X’s thought-provoking counter-balance to the likes of La Boétie, Thoreau, and even Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King: “[Y]ou can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” Is peace activism a luxury of the privileged?

This symposium addresses peace theory and activism’s relation-ships to jurisprudence and lawyering. It participates in a burgeoning body of work devoted to 1) limning the forms and effects of violence, 2) advocating “positive peace” in the U.S. and abroad, and 3) critiquing the ways that peace norms can be used to further ostracize vulnerable groups from rights.

A survey of the work of symposium participants reveals mounting frustration with law’s violence and a concomitant awareness of the double binds that can fetter efforts to achieve change. John M. Kang of St. Thomas University Law examines how the law of war encourages certain forms of anti-social masculinity that are otherwise prohibited in civil society’s criminal law. Mark A. Drumbl of Washington & Lee Law studies the complexities of international criminal justice engagements with child soldiers. Seattle University School of Law’s Dean Spade studies social movement strategies aimed at transforming violent conditions, and offers important challenges to jurisprudences of nonviolence that limit or stigmatize resistance and self-defense by targeted populations. Mary Dudziak of Emory Law School observes that the supposedly temporary nature of “wartime” often justifies suspensions of the rule of law, but that this fiction belies the persistence of armed conflict. Kathryn Abrams of Boalt writes about resistance, emotion, and outrage in the context of anti-immigration regimes now found in Arizona. Lucie E. White of Harvard Law School witnesses the violence of radical poverty and aims to eliminate structural injustice through economic and social rights advocacy. Yxta Maya Murray of Loyola Law School studies literature, the visual arts, and peace theory to learn about the varieties of violence. Other peace- and liberation-seeking legal scholars reinvent lawyering practices, legal process, animal rights, reproductive freedoms, retributive criminal punishment, and criminal justice.

Jurisprudence and the Possibilities of Peace organizers invite legal scholars to submit 250-500 word abstracts describing traditional academic paper topics to be delivered at the symposium. In accord with the Seattle Journal of Social Justice’s tradition of publishing creative work alongside scholarship, we also welcome abstract proposals for fiction, non-fiction, or visual art. All projects should concern subjects such as:

Poverty, violence, and law
Direct action and nonviolence
The law of war, the law of peace
The interaction of peace principles and human rights
Peace resistance and lawyering
Peace rhetoric and its relationship to international resistance movements such as those found in Guatemala, India, Palestine, Syria, the United States, and Egypt
Nonviolence and gun control and self-defense
How violence is defined and how police violence, military violence and other state violence is understood or obscured by pacifism

Submissions of the 250-500 word abstracts should be sent to and to  Abstract submissions must be received by September 2, 2013, for consideration by the conference committee. The papers selected for presentation will be announced in October.  Final papers will be due on March 15, 2014.