On 7 December 2016, the Global Justice and Global Development Academies supported a student-led initiative to follow the elections in Ghana, as part of their Innovative Initiative Fund. In this post, MSc student, Matthew Pflaum, reflects on the evening’s events.
Elections are critical processes for global social and political change, leading to new policies and reforms. Certain elections, referenda, and regions receive widespread attention and coverage – the US election and Brexit, for example – while others are less covered. Elections in the Global South tend to be disregarded by much of the world, and this is a mistake. All elections are significant, principally for local citizens, but also for the rest of the world through geopolitics and trade.
During the US election, crowds gathered in tenebrous bars and sterile classrooms to watch the event unfold, their eyes festooned to the glaring screens with constant updates of results. Americans and non-Americans watched with anticipation, feeling that the event was important to their lives. But aren’t all elections important? Should we not also gather to support elections in Burma and Botswana?
Can the university be a space where academic freedom reigns while restrictions are increasingly threatening voices and lives outside its gates? Or must spaces for politics be opened up on and off campus in order to address the invasion of national security (and capitalist) logics into the realms of open enquiry? On 27 October 2016, scholars and activists engaged these questions with a focus on the variable effects of the securitisation of university space in Turkey, India and the UK.
A panel on Turkey included academics and students who have lost their jobs as a result of the broader crackdown on dissent following the failed coup in July. They highlighted the connections between increasing violence in the Kurdish regions of Turkey—which precipitated the “Academics for peace” petition that has been used as a pretext for dismissing many signatories from their posts—and the attempts of the state to impose controls on its critics. They asked if the focus on the plight of academics may mean that this violence recedes from the view of international publics. Efforts to maintain solidarity among those now outside the academy and those still within it, as well as initiatives to take the university outside spaces the government controls, provide hope for continued resistance in fearful times and carve out a more universal idea of the University as institution and spirit that always has had to be fought for and salvaged from strategies of subjection from various quarters, not only outside the University. In this way, this panel was inspiring for all university struggles, not just those related to Turkey.
The Edinburgh Legal Theory Research Group had the pleasure of hosting, with the kind sponsorship of the Global Justice Academy through its Innovative Initiative Fund, the Workshop on Dignity on 6 October 2016. The workshop had three speakers: Ioanna Tourkochoriti (National University of Ireland Galway), Colin Bird (University of Virginia), and Adam Etinson (St. Andrews).
This guest post by co-organisers, Lucas Miotto and Paul Burgess, discusses the presentations and debate that took place.
The workshop was well attended by both staff members and students. An interesting, and beneficial, feature of the audience, was that it reflected the interdisciplinary character of the topic; we had attendees coming from myriad fields, such as politics, human rights, international and constitutional law, as well as legal and moral philosophy. Discussion was very lively and, perhaps due to the diverse character of the audience, presenters received feedback and questions from several different angles.
Leah Davison reports on an evening workshop that examined the role of art and creativity in conflict zone. Leah organised this with support from the Global Justice Academy’s and Global Development Academy’s Innovative Initiative Funds.
On 18 March the Edinburgh University International Development Society (EUID), in collaboration with University of Manchester based organisation In Place of War (IPOW), hosted an evening of talk and performance on the subject of art and creativity in conflict zones. The question at hand: what role can creativity play in the realm of social, political and economic development in areas of conflict, war and revolution?
This was the question Professor David Miller from Oxford University addressed on 4 February 2016 in a well-attended lecture hosted by Edinburgh University’s Global Justice Academy and Just World Institute.
In this blog report from the lecture, Yukinori Iwaki reflects on the day’s discussion and points raised. Yukinori Iwaki is a PhD student in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. Click here to read more about his research.
Professor Miller began his talk by noting the 2014 UK government decision not to support Triton, a search-and-rescue operation proposed by the EU that could have potentially saved the lives of sea-crossing migrants, or “boat people”. The main reasoning behind this decision was the claim that search-and-rescue encourages people to attempt dangerous sea crossings in the greater expectation of being rescued, and therefore, in the long term, will bring about more deaths. This seems to be a consequentialist argument that considers effects of alternative ways of using resources in order to minimise the loss of lives overall. Meanwhile, critics argue that European states have stringent obligations to protect rights of migrants. But is it true that the critics’ argument occupies the moral high ground while the UK government’s argument is morally defective? The answer Professor Miller gave us was: ‘Not necessarily’.
The Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh has been a key node of research on South Asia within the British academic landscape since 1988. Its success in the near three decades is largely due to the outstanding leadership provided by Professors Roger Jeffery and Patricia Jeffery in setting the Centre and steer it to be a leading centre for the study of South Asia in Scotland and within the UK.
While the Centre has benefitted from the stewardship of the Jeffery’s and other colleagues, such as Professor Crispin Bates and Jonathan Spencer, August 2015 marked a generational shift, with Drs Wilfried Swenden (SSPS) and Kanchana N Ruwanpura (Human Geography) taking over the helm. They are advised by a Steering Committee that draws in South Asia experts from across the School of Social and Political Science and all constituent Colleges in the University. To celebrate nearly three decades of South Asia research within the University of Edinburgh, the centre organised a ‘relaunch’ on 4 February 2016, which brought four distinguished academic guests to the University.
A guest post from Lucas Miotto Lopes, Convenor of the Edinburgh Legal Theory Group, who received an award of £400 from the GJA Innovative Initiative Fund to host a seminar on ‘The Concept of Global Law’.
With the sponsorship of the Global Justice Academy the Edinburgh Legal Theory Group held the seminar entitled The Concept of Global Law on September 24th. Jorge Fabra, a PhD candidate at McMaster University, was the presenter and Professor Neil Walker, from the University of Edinburgh, acted as the discussant. We had the privilege of counting with a wide and diversified audience – from undergrads to staff members. Participants were keen to engage in discussion and offered both critical remarks and constructive feedback. As a result, discussion was very live, friendly and informal.