About the event

“Just law” refers not just to law, but to the ambivalent relationship between law and justice. International law can be characterized as both constitutive of imperialism and a necessary context for certain forms of emancipatory political expression, a tension expressed through the contested claims for legal frameworks such as human rights, transitional justice, and just war. What is the work that these concepts do, and what do they tell us about the status of sovereignty and legitimacy in our world today? Does international law simply reflect the expedient interests of world powers, or does it retain a degree of autonomy for thinking about alternative global futures? Join us as we consider claims from the past, interventions in the present, and orientations toward the future. New work from young scholars will be featured in conversation with select faculty whose own work has informed the “Just Law” seminar in the past. Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Talal Asad will give a keynote address on the evening of Thursday, May 3, at 6:30pm followed by a day-long workshop on Friday, May 4 with Jini Kim Watson, Amiel Melnick, Anjuli Raza Kolb, Shea McManus, Kareem Rabie, and others.

Papers will be circulated in advance. To register, please email [email protected].


Thursday, May 3rd 6:30pm

Welcome: Gary Wilder, CUNY Graduate Center

Keynote Address : Talal Asad, CUNY Graduate Center


Friday, May 4th 10:30am

Introductory Remarks Mark Drury and Neil Agarwal

11:00am - 12:45pm

Amiel Melnick : Detainees, Heroes, Ghosts: the Mau Mau Reparations Claim

Shea McManus : Mobilizing Mothers: Humanitarianism, Transitional Justice, and International Law in Lebanon

Mandana Limbert, Queens College as discussant

2:00 – 3:45pm

Kareem Rabie: The Illegal Overtaking of Land: Human Rights and the Settler Opposition to Palestinian Building in the West Bank

Jeremy Rayner: Contesting the 'Social State of Law': Neoliberalism and Popular Sovereignty in Costa Rica

Sujatha Fernandes, Queens College as discussant

4:00 – 5:45pm (Room 5307)

Anjuli Raza Kolb: A So-Called Viral Sovereignty: Global Health, Law and ‘Figures’ of Speech’

Jini Kim Watson: ‘We want you to ask us first’: Development, International Aid and the Politics of Indebtedness

Kandice Chuh, CUNY Graduate Center as discussant

All events are free and open to the public.