The 2022 workshop season begins on Thursday and Friday with the workshop titled "Structural inequality and the complexity of power: understanding why transformative legal concepts hit a glass ceiling", chaired by Dr. Lorena Sosa (Utrecht University), Dr. Kathrin Thiele (Utrecht University) and Dr. Alexandra Timmer (Utrecht University). This is going to be the first presential workshop after a three-year hiatus in which workshops have been all virtual, due to the pandemic.
The coordinators argue that "the question of how best to tackle structural inequalities has been pursued across disciplines for the last 50 years. In our attempts to understand the complexity of inequality, its systemic nature and its endurance, multiple conceptual suggestions have been elaborated to counter structural inequality. Many of these have been developed in grassroot movements and different activisms, then moved into academic discussions in different research fields, and a few of them have officially entered the law, policies and institutions. ‘Intersectionality’, ‘decolonisation’, ‘diversity’, ‘inclusion’, and ‘stereotyping’ are clear examples of such a multi-sited journey. While their trajectory could be perceived at first hand as a success, continued research shows that, the transformative intentions notwithstanding, structural inequality remains unchanged. Global inequality actually grows in the last decade(s) and the Covid-pandemic has accelerated inequality even more. To understand why law and institutions, despite their apparent embrace of these concepts, actually resist transformation, the conference organizers posit that we need to go back to the basis of critical (legal) theory: understanding how power structures permeate not just existing structures but also all our attempts to change these very structures (Smart 1989, Morondo Taramundi 2016). While ‘power’ has been a concern of multiple inter-disciplinary discussions in sociology, political science and feminist studies, these insights on power have not yet really entered mainstream legal scholarship. Law and legal scholarship continue to conceive power as vertical, as an attribute of the State, with only a few legal categories addressing some power-related aspects, such as participation, representation or self-determination."
The workshop will gather scholars from the University of the Basque Country, Utrecht University, UNESP, Ghent University, University of Strasbourg, Universidad de Deusto, Bogazici University, University of Roehampton, CONACYT, Universitat de València, Maastricht University, and Tel Aviv University.