Well, the Law and Society 2014 conference has come to an end. This morning I attended a panel on privacy and surveillance which included my terrific colleague, Rebecca Moosavian. The panel was pretty interesting with some papers exploring privacy and technology. A confident presentation from Ari Waldman on the importance of trust in our data transactions is one I’m still mulling over. He talked about the trust in everyday scenarios, commenting that “you’re trusting I don’t rip my clothes off right now”, and I thought, ‘you really don’t know me at all’.
Anyway, yesterday I attended a couple of sessions that really stood out. One was drawing on ‘new ideas’ from junior scholars at the LSA – looking at the future directions/agendas for law and society scholarship. It was a really inspiring session and left me with many ideas to implement in my own UK scholarly associations. Karen Levy and her work on big data is definitely one to watch. Mark Fathi Massoud is already shaping up to be a star.
I previously blogged that I was slightly disappointed by the lack of energy and radicalism in the LGBTQ/sexuality stuff at the conference. Well, a plenary session changed that. I found the anger!
The LSA did a slightly weird thing yesterday in holding three plenary sessions at the same time (which seems a bit of a contradiction) and immediately after lunch. Now, the LSA doesn’t provide lunch so people have to go and find their own think, eating into the pre and post lunch sessions. So, we had these three plenaries to choose from a after lunch. One was entitled ‘Nelson Mandela, Law and the Quest for Equality’, another was called ‘Integration 2.0: Race and Diversity in LSA’ and then the session I attended was called ‘Measures and Mismeasures of LGBTQ Equality’. It was as if the conference had decided to divdd up between the white worthy types, the folks of colour and the queer folks. It struck me as slimly odd anyway.
So, the LGBTQ panel featured the wonderful Ruthann Robson as Chair, and Aziza Ahmed, Darren Hutchinson, Thomas Keck, Nancy Knauer and Joey Mogul made up the panel. What a panel! This was a session that assembled powerful, dissenting, and angry voices. It was rather depressing that the turnout was so low. Joey Mogul was from People’s Law Office and delivered a stirring presentation. Mogul described how the focus on same-sex marriage had “sucked the oxygen out of the room”, meaning there wasn’t the space to discuss LGBTQ oppression and a range of other issues which are silenced. It’s precisely the sort of thing I keep banging on about but Joey constructed an argument and delivered it with impressive style and panache. All the panel were impressive, but Aziza Ahmed was particularly impressive. She really challenged the grip of the anti-trafficking movement, noting the complexities surrounding aid, and a range of sex policies which can then lead to unintended effects on LGBTQ rights. Brilliant stuff.
So, it’s all over. Roll on Seattle in 2015.