Monday, May 02, 2016

Academic Freedom and Civil Rights in Rafael Correa’s Ecuador: Summary of Reports Solicited by the Executive Council of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA)

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

The spring 2016 issue of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Forum is now available for viewing online. Of particular interest to academics within and beyond the field of Latin American studies are a dossier: "Academic Freedom and Civil Rights in Rafael Correa’s Ecuador”—this dossier includes five reports requested by LASA’s Executive Council to investigate threats to academic freedom in Ecuador. "The reports indicate that there are serious threats to freedom of speech, academic freedom, and other civil rights in Ecuador." (Carmen Martínez Novo, "Summary of Reports", below, pp. 25)). 

Academic Freedom and Civil Rights in Rafael Correa’s Ecuador: Summary of Reports Solicited by the Executive Council of LASA by Carmen Martínez Novo

Apuntes sobre libertad académica y de expresión en el Ecuador por Felipe Burbano de Lara

Legal Norms and Civil Society Organizations by Catherine M. Conaghan

Gender, Sexuality, Human Mobility, and Academic Freedom in Ecuador by María Amelia Viteri

Provincial Indigenous Leaders’ Concern about Correa Administration Policy and Possible Tactics of Repression by Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld

Academic Freedom and Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador by Carmen Martínez Novo
The summary of the reports, "Academic Freedom and Civil Rights in Rafael Correa’s Ecuador: Summary of Reports Solicited by the Executive Council of LASA" follows. It is also published online in the current issue of the Latin American Studies Association Forum (Volume XLVII, Issue 2, pp. 25-26 Spring 2016; and available here). 
The dossier is well worth reading, not just for the materials they provide about the erosion of academic freedom in Ecuador, but also  for its important reminder that the techniques of academic repression do not necessarily have a political ideology and that academic freedom are a set of principles that are actually quite easy to erode. Both the political left and right have compelling reasons to use academia instrumentally, and it is clear that people in power find that freedom of critique is useful while they are in opposition but that such opposition ought to be restricted once they are in power.  On the other hand, the issue of interventions by foreign academics is more complicated. And it is less clear that exercise of speech rights by academics within political fields ought to be accorded greater protection--under academic freedom rules--that the speech rights accorded to other individuals. These issues require greater thought, but the thrust of the reports raises issues that also suggest government intolerance of disagreement within political systems in which the power to disagree is built into the basic constitutional fabric of their constitutional systems.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy: Call for Papers, 26th Annual Conference; "Cuba Assessing the Reforms" (English and Castellano)

ASCE’s Twenty Sixth Annual Meeting: “Cuba: Assessing the Reforms”
July 28-July 30, 2016 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Beyond Nation and Law: A Manifesto": My Remarks at the Launch Symposium of the Dickson Poon Transnational Law Institute--"Transnational Law: What's in a Name?"

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

It was my great pleasure to participate in the events marking the inauguration of the Dickson Poon Transnational Law Institute at King's College, and to its organizer, Peer Zumbansen. See HERE for program of the Launch Symposium, entitled Transnational Law: What's In a Name?. 

This post includes a slightly edited transcript of my remarks at the Launch Symposium, entitled "Beyond Nation and Law." It follows below.

Shaoming Zhu Commentary on Wang Hui: "Contradiction, Systemic Crisis and the Direction for Change: An Interview"

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

It has been a long time, almost a generation, since the basic line of the Chinese Communist Party refocused the insights of class struggle away from its more primitive manifestation in a rough calculus of status to its current manifestation in the communal struggle to bring prosperity to the nation through the development of productive forces. Central to that evolution has been the evolution of the notion of class struggle from a central element of the organization of state, politics, society and economics to its embedding within the more complex notions of socialist modernization. It has been even longer since the discourse of autonomous state development has given way to the markets oriented language of economic globalization and its establishments of regimes of fracture, porosity, permeability, and polycentricity in the reorganization of power beyond the state.

Yet the old discourse retains a strong and alluring power over even the most sophisticated intellectuals of contemporary times. The best of them seek to bend old insights to new situations. They seek to reinterpret and apply old learning--still powerful--to the tensions and contradictions of the contemporary age. This is an important exercise of intellectual discourse in the West. It is refreshing, then, to see it emerge, as well in Chinese discourse.

It is with this in mind that Flora Sapio, Shaoming Zhou, and I thought it would be useful to consider these issues through the lens of a recently published interview that nicely raises some of these themes: Contradiction, Systemic Crisis and the Direction for Change: An Interview with Wang Hui.

Our thought may be accessed here.

Flora Sapio
Larry Catá Backer
Shaoming Zhu

This post includes Shaoming Zhu's essay, "Commentary on Professor Wang Hui’s 'Contradiction, Systemic Crisis and the Direction for Change: An Interview with Wang Hui'".

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Nicholas Rowland Presents "The Future Multiple" and the Future of Scenario Planning; With Link to Recording of the Event

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

It was my great pleasure to host a presentation and discussion of Nicholas Roland and Matthew Spaniol's exciting new article--"The Future Multiple," which appears in Foresight, Vol. 17 No. 6 2015, pp. 556-573. 

The presentation for graduate students and faculty at Penn State's University Park campus,  provided an opportunity to speak to emerging issues of corporate foresight, futures planning, scenario design, and the conception and utilization of these devices as tools of managing states, enterprises and other groups.  The theoretical and conceptual foundations of scenario design touches on aspects of political theory, regulatory governance, the character of representation in political systems, and the nature of law.  It is method, a theoretically coherent approach to management in regulatory systems and more.  And, of course, it suggests a managerial and political engagement with time. I was privileged to serve as the discussant for the event.

The abstract of the article and short bios of the authors follows.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Transnational Law: What’s in a Name? Launch Symposium of the Dickson Poon Transnational Law Institute

For those in London next week I am happy to pass along an announcement of the inauguration of a great new project with global impact--
The Transnational Law Institute at The Dickson Poon School of Law will celebrate its inauguration with a Symposium, Transnational Law: What’s in a Name? The Launch Symposium will feature short presentations by legal scholars and practitioners as well as anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists and historians to reflect on the origins and the current state of the debate around ‘transnational law’ as a field of doctrine, global legal practice and critical reflection about the role of law in governing border-crossing risks and challenges.

Presentations begin at 3:45 and, with an intermission, at 5:30, conclude at 7:15. A reception with music and drinks follows.

A list of speakers and the programme can be found here.
The inauguration promises to be an exciting event. My congratulations to Peer Zumbansen who joined The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London in July 2014 as the inaugural Professor of Transnational Law and founding director of the Dickson Poon Transnational Law Institute.
The Dickson Poon Transnational Law Institute is made possible by the £20 million gift from Dr Dickson Poon CBE. With the support of this gift, The Dickson Poon School of Law is establishing itself as a global leader in transnational law – pioneering an approach to law that moves our thinking beyond national jurisdictions and academic boundaries to find new solutions to pressing global problems. (here)
 The remainder of the post includes the program for the conference and information about the TLI posted by Kings.

Flora Sapio, "Where's the Crisis in China's Legal System," TNote (Torino World Affairs Institute) No 10 (April 2016)

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016) 
Part I: Larry Catá Backer
Part II: Flora Sapio
Part III: Jean Mittelstaedt
Part IV: Shaoming Zhou
Part V: 中外学者对中国法治改革的关注与讨论.
Part VI Sun Yuhua
Part VII White Jade; (English Version HERE)
A summary of some of out thoughts as well as additional insights have just been published.  My thanks to Flora Sapio for an excellent essay, Flora Sapio, "Where's the Crisis in China's Legal System," TNote (Torino World Affairs Institute)  No 10 (April 2016).  Professor Sapio starts:
A recent article by Jerome Alan Cohen on “A looming crisis for China's Legal System”, which appeared on Foreign Policy, has sparked a discussion among European, American, Chinese scholars and practitioners of Chinese Law. The intellectual leadership of Jerome Alan Cohen over Western studies of Chinese law and the clear vision he has established for the field led to a passionate debate over the nexus between law and politics in China, and on what is most critical about China’s legal system.

The essay follows.