'No. 11 Tree' by Ibrahim Mohammed El Salahi, 2001
The past decade has seen a steady increase in interdisciplinary scholarship interested in the relationships between literature and international law. Much of this scholarship has remained deeply rooted in the home disciplines of the scholars, who not only operate with the prevailing assumptions and methodologies of those disciplines, but also tend to treat the other disciplines as stable and unproblematic. Moreover, while claiming to tell a global history, that scholarship largely repeats the Eurocentric bias that has historically characterized the fields of comparative literature and international law. In fact, much of the new scholarship on comparative literature and international law not only fails to take account of imperialism and its histories in the formation of disciplinary knowledge, it also tends to marginalize events and thinkers in the global south (including the south in the north), ignoring their roles as actors and agents of literary and legal world-making. In doing so, this new scholarship seems to be replicating the traditional prejudices of its contributing disciplines.
In December 2018 scholars from multiple disciplines and locations met in the first of a series of encounters that aim to explore the imbrications of literature and international law at the edges, and do so in a manner that seeks to avoid these basic disciplinary blindnesses and Eurocentric assumptions and places the Global South at the center of this conversation.
The next event will take place on 26-27 July 2019, where we hope to continue the conversation with a broader range of scholars at a two-day workshop at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The final event will take place in Nairobi in early 2020.
Organizers: Joseph Slaughter (Columbia University), Vasuki Nesiah (New York University),
Gerry Simpson (London School of Economics) and Christopher Gevers (University of KwaZulu-Natal).
Funded by the Columbia University Global Humanities Project and NYU Gallatin School