Apr 6, 2016
9:00am - 3:00pm    |    Furman Hall 328, 245 Sullivan Street, New York, NY 10012

RSVP and valid ID required. RSVP here or email Anam Salem.

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided. 

Visiting Scholars are at the heart of CHRGJ’s scholarly work and represent an integral part of the Center.

The Scholars in Residence Research Forum is an opportunity to learn more about the research and work of CHRGJ’s Scholars in Residence. During this half day forum, CHRGJ’s current Scholars in Residence will present their  work to an audience of academics, practitioners and peers. After each presentation, there will be time for Q&A and for a substantive discussion about their work.

Concept papers will be available one week prior to the date, and can be shared with people on the RSVP list upon request.



9:30 – 10:20am

Rehan Abeyratne

Socioeconomic Rights in India: Origins, Development, and Concerns Going Forward

This paper will introduce the main themes of my forthcoming book, Socioeconomic Rights in India (Oxford University Press). It will briefly overview the rise of socioeconomic rights jurisprudence in the Indian Supreme Court, which required creative procedural and substantive innovations in constitutional interpretation.  It will then address three concerns about this jurisprudence: (1) that it impinges on democratic policy-making; (2) that it threatens constitutional legitimacy; and (3), that, as a practical matter, legal judgments have not directly addressed petitioners’ claims and have not been effectively enforced. The paper will conclude by proposing how India’s well-intentioned socioeconomic rights jurisprudence can be more effective in practice.

Commentator: Prof. Philip Alston

10:30 – 11:20am

Inga Winkler

A Challenging Balancing Act for Special Rapporteurs: Fundraising, Maintaining Independence and Having an Impact

The presentation draws on the experience of the mandate of the first Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation. While the mandate was comparatively well-funded, the nature of funding, the priorities of donors, and the lack of transparency raise challenges and result in a delicate balancing act between securing funding for carrying out impactful work and not risking the mandate’s independence. The presentation will then turn to the question what it means to do “impactful work.” Where do mandates have an impact? How is impact measured? How do mandates achieve an impact? What approaches do they adopt? What are the success factors? What are the obstacles? – This set of questions is part of a research project developed with the Universal Rights Group that is currently in its initial stages.

Commentator: Prof. Philip Alston

11:30 – 12:20pm

Senthorun Raj

Crushing Feeling: Promising Happiness in US Marriage Equality Cases

Marriage equality generates a range of feelings. Happiness, in particular, has become a pursuit made possible by same-sex marriage. Happiness manifests through love, hope, and respect which shape the recognition of sexual liberty, equality, and dignity. This paper turns its attention towards an archive of US constitutional cases to explore the affective – as distinct from doctrinal – consequences of this widely celebrated “progressive” law reform turn. In doing so, I read marriage equality cases in an emotional register, using queer phenomenology, to critique how the enactment of happiness through marriage equality jurisprudence works to crush queerness by limiting notions of injury, intimacy, and identity. In order to broaden pursuits for queer justice, this paper argues that we need to reflect on law’s feelings and be willing to critique the joyful recognition.

Commentator: Prof. Kendall Thomas

12:20 – 1:00pm

Lunch break

1:00 – 1:50pm

Gwyneth McClendon

African Churches’ Influence on Conceptions of Economic Justice

What role are churches in Sub-Saharan Africa playing in shaping conceptions of economic justice? Religious organizations are the most prevalent form of associational life in Sub-Saharan Africa today, and the number of Christians on the continent has more than doubled in the last fifty years, with membership in Pentecostal churches growing the fastest. Historically, Catholic and mainline Protestant churches played an outsized role in Sub-Saharan Africa in providing social welfare (education, healthcare, nutrition) and professed a mission to care for the poor through spending. But newer, very popular denominations, particularly Pentecostal churches, seem to be taking a different approach to poverty, eschewing social spending and instead communicating that the best solution to poverty is psychological transformation (“positive thinking”), rather than handouts.  This project documents these divergent approaches to poverty and inequality by presenting results from a representative survey of churches (and sermon texts from the churches) in Nairobi and Johannesburg. The project then reflects on the implications of these divergent approaches to poverty for a social and economic rights agenda.

Commentator: Nikki Reisch, Legal Director CHRGJ

2:00 – 2:50pm

Shreya Atrey

Comparators in Intersectional Discrimination

This article seeks to revive the debate about addressing intersectionality in discrimination law with the use of comparator test. The central purpose is to test whether the heuristic of comparison is helpful in identifying how multiple identities interact to produce a distinct experience of intersectional discrimination. I use three seminal examples of DeGraffenreid, Bahl and Falkiner to test the rigors of strict and flexible comparator tests in establishing intersectional claims. The analysis shows that neither provides a normative fit nor an operationally straightforward approach for intersectionality. On the other hand, the approach of using contextual comparisons, as adopted by the South African Constitutional Court in Hassam, presents a viable alternative which helps reveal the distinct nature of disadvantage based on multiple grounds. The focus thus shifts to the contextual use of comparative evidence than the search for comparators itself. 

Commentator: Prof. Sally Merry





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