Sara Ross

Call for Conference Papers: Canadian Law and Society’s Mid-Winter Meeting & Symposium


The Mid-Winter Meeting of the Canadian Law and Society Association has been announced, and the deadline for the submission of your conference papers is December 20th, 2016. This year the meeting and conference will be held in Fredericton, New Brunswick, at the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law over January 20-21st, 2017. According to the Association:

The theme for this year is Piluwitahasuwawsuwakon (the Wolastoqey word for Changing Minds, Living the Truth) as part of our continuing engagement and response to the challenges put forward in the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Calls to Actions. The keynote address, “Sāsipihkeȳihtamowin: Restorying the Indigenous Feminine in an Age of Reconciliation,” will be delivered by Dr. Margaret Kress-White (Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre, UNB).

Abstracts should be no more than 250 words, and submitted to Nicole O’Byrne at . For further information you can check the CLSA website here.

Sara Ross

SSHRC Storytellers Contest 2017


The annual SSHRC Storytellers Contest has been announced for 2017, with entries being accepted between January 7th and January 31st. The contest challenges postsecondary students from across Canada to explore the SSHRC-funded projects being done at their institution, and develop a short 300 word pitch telling the story of that project to the public. You can either select your own project, if SSHRC funded, or the work of any other student or professor as long as you have their permission. The goal is to “show Canadians how social sciences and humanities research is affecting our lives, our world and our future prosperity.”

According to SSHRC, the “Top 25 Storytellers will each receive a cash prize of $3,000, a spot in our exclusive research communications master class at Congress 2017 (registration and three nights’ accommodation included), national promotion of their project and the chance to present their work at the Storytellers Showcase.” The final five will also give presentations of their work at the 2017 SSHRC Impact Awards ceremony.

For more information, you can visit the competition site here.

Sara Ross

Conference Call For Papers: Images, Copyright, and the Public Domain in the Long Nineteenth Century


The Winterther Museum, Garden and Library (Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

The call for papers has been released for the Winterther Museum conference entitled “Images, Copyright, and the Public Domain in the Long Nineteenth Century”, which will take place between March 29-30th, 2018 in Winterthur, Delaware. Following the conference, speakers will be invited to a follow-up workshop in the Spring of 2019 held at the Université Paris Diderot “with the goal of finalizing the joint publication and discussing further research opportunities in this field.” According to the conference description:

This project aims to bring together scholars from a range of disciplines and fields (printing history, art history, law, literature, visual culture, book history, etc.) to explore the cultural and legal consequences of the proliferation of images in the long nineteenth century. Our geographic focus will be on Great Britain and the United States in connection with the wider world, not only their colonies and territories, but also their commercial and artistic links with other countries. Contributions that consider the transnational circulation of images, or provide a comparative perspective on copyright, are most welcome, as are case studies that reveal the local factors that shaped attitudes and practices related to the circulation of images. In referring to the “long 19th century,” we want to encourage specialists of earlier and later periods to help us elucidate the broader history of imaging and printing techniques and the legal and cultural norms that surrounded them.

Your abstract of one page and a short cv are due by February 1, 2017 at the email address of To read more about the event, you can view the posting here.

Sara Ross

Call for Papers: Special Issue of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

The International Journal for the Semiotics of Law has issued a call for papers for its upcoming special issue on “Music, National Identity & Law”. Abstracts with a maximum of 300 words should be submitted by December 1, 2016 to guest editor Anne Wagner at If accepted, the maximum length of papers is 15,000 words and they must be written in English. The call for papers includes the following:

Music is a space of possibilities, a realm of cross-cultural events where interpretation is deeply rooted in history and societal evolution. The main complexity is to analyze the coded meaning and view how the same signs, notions and concepts are appropriated, translated, rehistorized and read anew in songs, be they pop songs or national anthems.

This special issue will explore the richly complex manifestations of ‘Music, National Identity and Law’ in the following ways:

How do we stimulate our senses with music?
How do we combine music with national identity and law?
Is music combined with other sign systems?
How de we ‘hear’ music, national identity and law?
What is the creatively approach perception of Music, National Identity and Law?

 The issues is expected to be published some time during 2017 or 2018.

Sara Ross

New Book News: Copyright Beyond Law: Regulating Creativity in the Graffiti Subculture by Marta Iljadica

Copyright Beyond Law

Later in November 2016, Marta Iljadica’s new book Copyright Beyond Law: Regulating Creativity in the Graffiti Subculture will be released on Hart Publishing. Iljadica is a Lecturer in Law at Southampton Law School, having completed her PhD from King’s College London School of Law in 2012. According to the publisher, the book covers the following:

The form of graffiti writing on trains and walls is not accidental. Nor is its absence on cars and houses. Employing a particular style of letters, choosing which walls and trains to write on, copying another writer, altering or destroying another writer’s work: these acts are regulated within the graffiti subculture. Copyright Beyond Law presents findings from empirical research undertaken into the graffiti subculture to show that graffiti writers informally regulate their creativity through a system of norms that are remarkably similar to copyright. 

You can read more about the book at its publisher’s website here.

Sara Ross

IP Osgoode event: The Discursive Structure of Patent Law by Professor Dan Burk

Burk event poster

On November 25th, 2016, the Chancellor’s Professor of Law Dan L. Burk of the University of California, Irvine is providing a lecture entitled The Discursive Structure of Patent Law at Osgoode Hall Law School. The event will be held between 12:30 and 2:30pm in Room 2027 IKB. According to the event description, the lecture will cover the following:

Patents are widely believed to offer a crucial legal predicate to technical innovation, but their actual function remains poorly understood. Unlike other forms of intellectual property, the exclusive rights entailed in patents are textually and intertextually defined. By examining the structure of the patent text, we see that patents are deeply embedded in particular communities of composition, interpretation, and practice. We also see that the patent text as artifact serves as a passage point between these communities. Such rhetorical studies of the patent point the way to better outcomes in current jurisprudential debates over patent use and patent reform.

Please ensure you RSVP by November 21, 2016 with the code word “Burk” at the following link:

Guest Post Kerry Young

Submissions deadline to Testify art exhibition – extended

Testify photo

Photos of “Genetikos” and “Paradaxe” by Louise Mandell and Richard Heikkilä-Sawan, courtesy of Kerry Young

The Testify project, a performance and art show celebrating Indigenous laws, has extended its submission deadline. The project is described as follows:

Artists and legal thinkers in conversation with each other to explore Indigenous laws and opportunities for the dynamic expression. Testify creates a space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to dream a way forward which respects and reflects the diversity, strength and hope embodied within Indigenous traditions. Law has been a powerful tool of the colonial project. Law was used to subjugate and attempt to wipe out Indigenous Peoples as distinct Peoples, and prohibit Indigenous ceremonies, governance, laws, and cultural expression.

The new extended deadline for the upcoming submission round is November 30, 2016. For information about how to submit a project, you can read more on their website here:

Sara Ross

Law.Arts.Culture event: Copyright and the Future of Art

Adler poster

Amy Adler of New York University School of Law will be delivering her address Copyright and the Future of Art on November 2, 2016 between 12:30 to 2:00pm in Room 2027 of the Ignat Kaneff Building of Osgoode Hall Law School. According to the event:

Adler’s recent scholarship addresses an array of issues such as the First Amendment treatment of visual images, the misfit between copyright law and the art market, the legal regulation of pornography, and the moral rights of artists. A leading expert on the intersection of art and law, Adler has lectured about these topics to a wide variety of audiences, from attorneys general to museum curators to the FBI.

Make sure to rsvp today at the following link:

Sara Ross

Call for Papers: Special Issue of the International Criminal Justice Review


A call for papers has been released for the International Criminal Justice Review, for a special issue entitled “Crimes against Culture: Theft, Destruction, Security, and Protection of Heritage”. Submissions will be peer-reviewed, must not exceed 30 pages excluding references, and include both a 200 word abstract and short author biography. The description of the issue includes the following:

In this issue we hope to feature cutting-edge research into the intersections between criminology and the disciplines traditionally associated with the preservation of cultural objects and sites, namely archaeology, heritage, and museums studies. Topics could include: looting, trafficking, and illicit sale of antiquities or other cultural objects; security and protection of cultural objects and sites during and beyond conflict and natural disaster; cultural protection policy success, failure, or critiques; forgery and fraud in the art and antiquities market; white collar crime, crimes of the powerful, and state crime as they relate to cultural objects and sites; and, harm related to heritage crime. We especially welcome papers that push the boundaries of theoretical or methodological research in this field, that draw on multidisciplinary resources and discourses, or that present research into underrepresented geographical areas or new conceptions of heritage crime.

Submissions should be sent via email to . To read the full call for papers click here.

Guest Post Vanisha H. Sukdeo

The Grapes of Wrath as a Study into the Limits of Labour Law

“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”

The Grapes of Wrath [1]

This post examines how the law has limitations to the extent that it can combat repression. The law can be used as a tool to help in the fight towards social justice however society and culture more broadly has to be changed in order for true transformation to be actualized. The law does not exist in a vacuum and is often a mirror of society rather than the reverse. The struggle to achieve workers’ rights in The Grapes of Wrath is never actually attained but the reader is left with the impression that the struggle endures and that one day the workers will achieve true justice.

What prompted me to start writing this paper was my own experience. My own work for the past 10 or so years was what I thought of as, “purely legal”. While in law school myself and two other law students were successful in getting Queen’s University certified as a No Sweat campus which means that everything bearing the Queen’s logo is made under fair working conditions. While my Political Science Undergrad did make me aware that not all problems can be shaped into ‘legal problems’ I had great confidence in the ability of the law to shape change. What better way to strengthen the rights of workers than through changes to legislation? It may be trite but whatever the problem, law was the solution. When faced with issues such as sweatshops there does not seem be a clear path towards regulation in the form of legislation so I then started to reflect on what the limits of the law might be. I explore this through examining the novel The Grapes of Wrath which demonstrates that human kindness and generousity will always triumph over cruelty and miserliness.

How to summarize such an American classic? It is difficult to have a new take on such a widely discussed book. In order to provide context one must know that the book takes place in America in the Dust Bowl as the Joad family travels from Oklahoma to California in search of a better life. The book was published in 1939. They set off for California after seeing fliers stating that farmers out west were in need of workers to pick fruit and that the wages were high. When they arrive in California they find that labour is not in demand as there are too many workers for too few jobs. This lack of work leads to workers willing to undercut the wages of other workers. Eventually there is a strike and strikebreakers (a.k.a. scabs) insist that they have to work in order to feed their families.

The Joad family is very sympathetic and endearing which is something that is lost when reading nonfiction about the same topic. Perhaps that is why it may be easier to stick with nonfiction and keep a safe distance (alienate one’s self) from the story itself. Focus on the plot not the characters. Professor Mark Weisberg at Queen’s challenged us as first year law students to think about the person behind the story. It may be the case that it is too emotionally draining to consider those behind the cases as it overly-humanizes the case, if that is possible. So looking at the law through fiction may bring up emotions that the law sets out to strip away. However, emotions are an unavoidable element of the courtroom.

The main point that I will leave with is that alienation as described by Marx cannot be solved by driving up wages and having better working conditions. In the novel the main characters, the Joad family, start to realize that the true divide between management and workers is the inability of management to see the workers as people and not just numbers. “The Swiss novelist Max Frisch remarked at the time, ‘We imported workers and got men instead.’”[2] This encapsulates the dilemma of management – how to distance one’s self enough from workers to command respect yet not too distant as to be seen as inhumane.

Vanisha H. Sukdeo is a PhD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School

[1] John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), at 249.

[2] Jagdish Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), at 208.