Aesthetics for Birds to offer diverse lineup of guests this fall

Philosophers of science have argued that having a diverse community of researchers can help promote the objectivity of scientific communities and minimize the negative influences of explicit and implicit biases in scientific reasoning. Much of this is grounded in work on cases in the history of science where well-intentioned but homogeneous communities of scientists made problematic context-based assumptions, adopted unwarranted stereotypes, or reasoned in ways that were limited by their own experiences, values, and interests.

But is there any reason that this epistemic justification for diversity should be limited to the sciences?

Wouldn’t a group of researchers working in, say, aesthetics and philosophy of art, benefit just as much from the sorts of diversity that are likely to minimize context-based assumptions and unwarranted stereotypes?

The line-up of guest bloggers and philosophers/artists to be interviewed on the Aesthetics for Birds blog this fall provides a good example of a relatively diverse community of researchers, including both academics and non-academics and both junior and senior philosophers from a broad range of private and public universities. It will be interesting to see what new ideas emerge from the mix!

Call for proposals: Radically Rethinking Marriage

Deadline for Submissions: September 20, 2013
(Workshop: July 2015)


Over the last few months the issue of same-sex marriage has once again received a lot of international attention with the partial repeal of DOMA in the United States, the overturning of Proposition 8 in California, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom. But as with previous debates in countries that have already introduced same-sex marriage, the public debates have contained little or no critical interrogation of the institution of marriage itself. Feminist critiques of marriage, once widespread in academia, have been silenced by the difficulty of interjecting in an argument strongly shaped by discourses of love, and where the premise of the dispute is itself delimited by a framing that understands marriage as an unquestioned good that should either be protected in its ‘traditional’ form, or available to all couples. But how could feminists radically rethink marriage? What is at stake (politically, materially, affectively) in such an endeavour? What would “rethinking marriage” look like?

This two-day workshop seeks to bring together feminist scholars working across disciplines to radically rethink law(s) of and around marriage. We seek papers that offer an engaged analysis and re-imagining of marriage within law, attending to the complexities of its racial, sexual, gendered, class and colonial effects. Abstracts may engage any of the following (or other) broad themes:
• Same-sex marriage
• Polygamy
• Polyamory
• Alternative property regimes
• the ‘Beyond Marriage’ movement
• Conjugality
• Sovereignty and/or decolonization
• Marriage and wealth

In the spirit of the feminist judgments projects,* we ask that abstracts (1) identify a specific case, statute or key article and/or debate from the literature and (2) offer a re-thinking, new interpretation or rewriting: How could we decide a case or interpret a statute differently? Is it even possible to (re)imagine its transformative potentiality? How could we fill gaps in the key articles or debates, in ways that fundamentally challenge the existing legal institution of marriage? Is there a feminist alternative to marriage?

Submissions are encouraged from scholars, activists and artists and are not limited to traditional academic papers.

Once we have abstracts we will apply to hold the workshop at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law in Oñati, Spain. If this is not possible, it will be held at the University of Kent’s campus in Paris. Participants are responsible for their own travel and health insurance, travel costs, registration fee, and accommodations.

Deadline for Submissions: A 500 word abstract and title, along with affiliations and a short biography, should be sent in electronic form (Word document) to Suzanne Lenon, Women & Gender Studies, University of Lethbridge, and Nicola Barker, Kent Law School, University of Kent, by September 20, 2013.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

*For more information on the Feminist Judgment Projects, see: Women’s Court of Canada,; Feminist Judgments Project; Irish Feminist Judgments Project; and Australian Feminist Judgments Project See also E. Brems (ed.) Diversity and European Human Rights: Rewriting Judgments of the ECHR (CUP, 2013).

G4S: guard kills child? No problem, promote him?

G4S is a huge security company, to whom the UK authorities have outsourced all sorts of work, including work for prisons, immigration services, and children’s homes. There have been many stories about their thuggish behaviour (this is the company who killed Jimmy Mubenga) although not much is ever confirmed or results in action, as guards who kill people through restraint holds can always claim that they didn’t receive proper training.

Nine years ago, David Beadnall was working as a guard at a children’s home. He and three other guards restrained a fifteen year old boy who had refused to clean a sandwich toaster, thereby killing him.

A third officer then came into the room and Gareth was placed in a hold called the Seated Double Embrace. Two staff members held his upper body and pushed his torso forward towards his knees while one officer held his head.

Gareth complained: ‘I can’t breathe’.

Beadnall responded: ‘if you can talk then you can breathe’.

Gareth said he was going to defecate.

He was told: ‘you are going to have to shit yourself’ and the restraint continued.

Gareth did defecate. The restraint continued. Gareth vomited. The restraint continued. Gareth slumped forward. The restraint carried on for several minutes. When the restraint stopped it was too late.

Attempts to resuscitate him failed. The cause of death was recorded as asphyxia resulting from inhalation of gastric content and his body position during the period of physical restraint.

Now, Beadnall appears to have been promoted to Health and Safety Manager of G4S Children’s Homes. You can read more from Our Kingdom here. There are links to further articles about G4S by the same journalist on the page.