CfP: “Intersectionality in Critical Theories of International Law”

The American Society of International Law’s International Legal Theory Interest Group (ILTIG), in collaboration with the Quebec Society of International Law (SQDI), invites academics and graduate students to submit proposals for a conference on “Intersectionality in Critical Theories of International Law.” The conference will be held parallel to the 111th ASIL Annual Meeting, in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, from 1 pm to 5 pm at Georgetown University.

The purpose of this conference is to explore parallels between intersectionality theory, which examines contexts where individuals suffer oppression based on overlapping grounds (e.g., gender, race, class), and critical legal theories, which seek to deconstruct the patterns of power relations embedded in legal structures.

Intersectionality has attracted considerable attention in the social sciences. It has also become a topic of interest in the domestic legal sphere, beginning with Kimberlé W. Crenshaw’s seminal article, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Crenshaw demonstrated that women of color suffer oppression based on the combination of their gender and their race. Accordingly, the injuries they suffered were not captured adequately by either the gender anti-discrimination movement (which focused on white women’s concerns) or to the race anti-discrimination movement (which catered to the concerns of men of color).

Numerous legal scholars have examined intersections between oppressions related to gender and race, but other intersections, such as those involving class/poverty, age, ability, sexuality, and culture, have received less scrutiny. This is especially true for legal scholarship on international law. Yet, numerous strands of critical theory, such as Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and Marxism, offer fertile ground for further reflection on the possibilities (and limits) of international law as a possible factor in exacerbating or mitigating the intersectionality of oppressions.

The conference will explore links between intersectionality and critical theories of international law in the context of two specific legal fields: international human rights law and international trade law. Examples of questions to be addressed include the following:

  • How do International Human Rights Law and International Trade Law generate or on the contrary alleviate intersectionalized oppressions?
  • What categories of intersectionalized oppression do International Human Rights and International Trade Law obscure?
  • What are the limits for the inclusion of intersectionality within the International Human Rights Law and International Trade Law regimes?
  • How can International Human Rights Law and International Trade Law operationalize intersectionality outside of international tribunals?
  • How can International Human Rights Law and International Trade Law embrace intersectionality without leading to essentialism, thus in a manner that can be operationalized coherently in the context of an international tribunal?

Proposals of no more than 500 words should be sent to before March 17th, 2017. The authors of the selected proposals will be notified by March 24th, 2017. Proposals from emerging scholars and graduate students are highly encouraged. A total of eight proposals will be selected, in order to constitute two panels on the selected themes.

Please note that no funding is available to cover transportation and accommodation for participants. Attendance at the conference is, however, free of charge.

More information is available here.