A decade of innovative scholarship

May 9, 2018

FinemanThe Centre for Law and Social Justice and the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative at Leeds are hosting an international conference to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the founding of the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative by Professor Martha Albertson Fineman. The conference will be held over two days from September 20 to 21, 2018, in the Moot Court Room at the University of Leeds School of Law.

The conference will invite participants to review and discuss the scholarly impact of vulnerability theory. Vulnerability is understood as the universal and constant susceptibility to change, both positive and negative, in human physical and social well-being over the life course. It is human vulnerability and the dependency it inherently entails that compel the creation of institutions and relationships, from the family to international regulatory structures. What does this reality mean for law and theories of justice? Participants will draw from various theoretical and doctrinal backgrounds to overview the development of vulnerability theory and will reflect on its current application and possible steps for the future.

This event is planned as both a retrospective and prospective discussion on rethinking the vulnerable subject of law and as a celebration of ten years of scholarly impact.

The School of Law, University of Leeds, in collaboration with Emory University School of Law, launched a new research hub in 2017. The Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative at Leeds is coordinated by Professor Fineman and Dr. Stu Marvel and housed within the Centre for Law & Social Justice. An inaugural event on vulnerability and the professions was held in October 2017, and this conference represents the next major gathering of the VHC at Leeds. Marvel has been hired in a permanent role as a lecturer in law at Leeds and will be in full-time residence at the VHC at Leeds starting in fall 2019. 

The VHC at Leeds has already hosted three workshops at the University of Leeds School of Law, hosted three visiting scholars, and held related events at Essex and Exeter Law Schools, as well as talks in Oslo, Lund, Coimbra, Dublin, and Copenhagen. This conference will be one of the largest events yet and an important capstone on ten years of vulnerability theory. The fact that it is being held at Leeds is a testament to the importance of the VHC at Leeds and its role as a research hub within the Centre for Law and Social Justice. The conference will draw in important vulnerability scholars from the United States as well as partners at the Center for Law and Vulnerabilities at Lund, Sweden, and at the University of Technology Sydney — two institutions that have a developing strategic relationship with the University of Leeds School of Law. It will also highlight the contributions of PhD and LLM students to emerging scholarship on vulnerability theory. 

The initiative will also host two roundtable discussions at the Law and Society Association conference in Toronto from June 5 to 8. The event will feature sixteen scholars from around the world, with Fineman to sit on both panels. More information is available at lawandsociety.org/Toronto2018/toronto2018.html.