Professor Jennifer Nedelsky of Osgoode School of Law visits the Amsterdam Law School for a CSECL Lecture.
About the Speaker
Professor Jennifer Nedelsky joined Osgoode School of Law at York University in January 2018. She was previously Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Toronto and Professorial Fellow at the Institute for Social Justice. Her teaching and scholarship have been concentrated on Feminist Theory, Legal Theory, American Constitutional History and Interpretation, and Comparative Constitutionalism.
Her most recent book, Law’s Relations: A Relational Theory of Self, Autonomy, and Law (2011) won the C.B. Macpherson Prize, awarded by the Canadian Political Science Association. She is currently completing a jointly authored manuscript (with Tom Malleson), A Care Manifesto: (Part) Time for All (forthcoming, Oxford University Press).
The best approach to rights is to understand the subject of rights as fundamentally relational. I outline my relational theory of self, autonomy, and law. Questions of rights are best analyzed in terms of how they structure relations, which allows for better strategies of both advocacy and resistance. A relational approach invites structural analysis (for example of inequality) and offers answers to common critiques of rights as individualistic, as obfuscating, and as alienating. The definition of rights inevitably involves contestation, and that contestation must take place in a democratically accountable way. Thus, the issue for rights cannot just be protection or implementation. Equal attention must be given to the question of who has defined the rights in question. The transformation in concepts thus needs a transformation in institutional practice.