'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.

Over the past two years, a group of scholars from multiple disciplines and locations have been engaged in a conversation exploring the imbrications of literature and international law at the edges, and doing so in a manner that seeks to avoid these basic disciplinary blindnesses and Eurocentric assumptions and places the Global South at the center of their discussions. The conversation began at a workshop in New York in December 2019, and then was re-convened at a follow-up event in London in July 2019. The third and final such meeting will take place 15-16 June, 2020 at the Columbia Global Center in Nairobi, Kenya.

We would like to invite scholars from across disciplines interested in taking part in this conversation, including those who participated at the previous meetings in New York and London, to submit short proposals for papers to join us in Nairobi for a two-day Symposium.


Please email proposals/abstracts and short CV to iL.Lit.events@gmail.com by 1 March 2020. Limited funding is available to assist scholars from the Global South with travel costs.

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