The Baldy Center proudly sponsors a series of speakers each year who share their ongoing work on important topics in law and society. The speakers provide an important catalyst for research and dialogue in the Baldy community. Our events are held according to UB's developing COVID-19 related protocols.
To facilitate discussion at the event, The Baldy Distinguished Speakers generally provide in advance to the UB community, the working drafts of their papers.
Access the advance paper(s), here.
If you would like assistance in accessing a paper, please contact us via telephone: 716-615-2102; or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
After the event the materials and draft papers are no longer available in recognition that the draft paper is likely to change and the final version may be published elsewhere.
Events listing the room location are held on campus, in-person. No advance registration is needed to attend in-person events.
REGISTER FOR ZOOM ACCESS TO EVENT
Some events are also accessible via Zoom at the times listed. Please use the registration link for the event of interest. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with Zoom access details. (No registration needed to attend in-person events)
Abstract: For people in prison, incarceration can be both intentionally difficult (as part of retributive punishment) and experienced in less purposeful or justified ways. Beginning with Sykes, scholars have long sought to classify the various “pains of imprisonment” into a theoretical taxonomy. Within the modern carceral environment, however, the way these pains are both applied and lived has become increasingly dynamic. The experience of, and fallout from, the COVID-19 global pandemic, which uniquely affected prison communities, has additionally compounded these shifts. To critically examine these theoretical and practical relationships, we conducted semi-structured interviews with incarcerated men (n=58) who were imprisoned in a medium security prison in a Northeastern state throughout the pandemic. Qualitative analyses explore the perceived painfulness of incarceration in this context as well as throughout their sentences. We find that COVID-19 amplified, diversified, and compounded both new and classic pains of imprisonment. Beyond the pandemic, these findings expand our understanding of how carceral punishments are experienced, highlighting the fluid and interconnected relationship between simultaneous pains and providing a more generalizable framework for understanding the lived experience of incarceration.
Co-Authors: Synove Anderson and Jordan Hyatt
Speaker Bio: Veronica L. Horowitz, recipient of a research grant from The Baldy Center, is an assistant professor in the department of sociology, University at Buffalo. Her research focuses on American criminal punishment broadly, with subfocuses on gender, stratification, and mercy. Faculty profile.
DECEMBER 9, 2022 — SENIOR FELLOW
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus
12:30 p.m., Lecture.
Abstract: A Political Concept of Torture. What is torture? My answer to the question, as it currently stands, is that in torture torment addressing an outward purpose is delivered pedagogically on a person dominated totally in the name of public authority. In this paper, I concentrate on three traits that inhere to this concept, and that give it political qualities: its pedagogy of torment; its outwardly expressed purposes; and, how torturers totally dominate captives by group work. I juxtapose them with traits found in other concepts of torture that have informed my own thinking, namely, torture’s epistemology of pain; its apparent purposefulness; and, the absolute powerlessness of the person tortured. I conclude by considering the question of whether tortured people are dehumanized or merely rendered human through the degradation of torture, shifting attention from the traits of the concept to look toward its limits.
Nick Cheesman is associate professor, Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University, and Senior Fellow, The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, University at Buffalo (Fall 2022). His research is on torture in Thailand and Myanmar. Cheesman's 2022 publications include “Torture in Thailand at the limits of law” (Law and Social Inquiry), and “Law and order” (Annual Review of Law and Social Science).
NOVEMBER 3, 2022 — GUEST SPEAKER
509 O’Brian Hall; 3:30pm ET (in-person only, no zoom)
Lecture: A new law to prevent torture and enforced disappearances in Thailand
After 15 years of advocacy, research and interventions by civil society groups, Thailand at last has an anti-torture and enforced disappearances law, which will take effect after four months. The law criminalizes and penalizes acts of torture, enforced disappearance, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; establishes a committee to oversee implementation, and determines preventative and reparation measures for victims to allow different authorities to prosecute offenders.
What are the strengths and limitations of the law? Why did it take so long to draft and pass, after Thailand ratified the UN Convention against Torture in 2007? What lessons were learned through the campaigning and drafting process? And, how effective is the law likely to be in preventing torture and forced disappearances, and providing redress to victims?
In this discussion, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet will respond to these and other questions and comments by Nick Cheesman about the context in which the law was introduced; the human rights and legal reform process through which it has passed, and about her hopes and prospects for the protection of civil and political rights, and for the rule of law and democracy in Thailand.
Pornpen Khongkachonkiet is Director, Cross Cultural Foundation, Bangkok, and former Chair of Amnesty International - Thailand. A lawyer and human rights defender she is currently serving as an advisor to the Subcommittee on Justice Reform under the Thai Parliamentary Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights. She previously served as a member of the extraordinary committee on drafting of the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Bill. She has worked on a range of United Nations and European Union funded projects on torture prevention, access to justice and legal protection in Thailand.
Nick Cheesman is Associate Professor, Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University and currently Senior Fellow, The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, University at Buffalo (Fall 2022). His ongoing research is on torture in Thailand and Myanmar. He did fieldwork at the Cross Cultural Foundation in 2018-19. His latest publications include “Torture in Thailand at the limits of law” (Law and Social Inquiry), and “Law and order” (Annual Review of Law and Social Science), both in 2022.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2022 — GUEST SPEAKER
509 O’Brian Hall; 12:30pm ET
Lecture: Exploring Islamophobia and Islam in Poland through analysis of court decisions
Lecture Abstract: What can we learn from judicial opinions about the minority community, societal perceptions of religion and culture, stereotypes, or discrimination? Especially when studying such decisions in the case of an (almost) invisible minority? This project focuses on popular narratives about Islam expressed in a particular context and form (textual opinions of courts) and pronounced by a particular group (professional judges) in Poland. The research is based on a thematic analysis of judicial opinions issued by the Common Courts in Poland, available online, in which Islam or being Muslim was mentioned as a circumstance of the case.
Bio: Ewa Górska holds a PhD in Law and a MA in Middle Eastern Cultural Studies, both from the Jagiellonian Universityz. She specializes in sociology of law and culture & law studies and her research is focused on legal systems in the Middle East. Her PhD on contemporary Islamic law and bioethical issues was published as a monograph.
She is active in civil society organizations both in Poland and internationally. She worked in Development and Humanitarian Cooperation sectors and is a member of International network for Human Rights in Palestine/Israel (FFIPP). Since 2020 Górska is developing her own project — a science podcast reorient.pl - aiming at popularizing knowledge and breaking stereotypes about other cultures and religions in Poland.
OCTOBER 7, 2022 — DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus
Reception, 12:00 p.m.; Lecture, 12:30 p.m. ET
Paul W. Kahn (Yale Law School)
Lecture: "To be Governed by a Text"
Bio: Paul W. Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, and, Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School. Professor Kahn teaches in the areas of constitutional law and theory, international law, cultural theory and philosophy. Faculty profile.
Discussion: I am looking forward to discussing my current project with you on October 7. That project is a successor volume to Origins of Order: Project and System in the American Legal Imagination. The earlier book studied the legal imagination in the first hundred years of our national life. It traced the movement in 19th-century constitutionalism from narratives of project to those of system. The new book continues the story, exploring what happens to these narratives over the course of the 20th century.
For our discussion, I am sending the preface and opening chapter of the new work, which remains at an early stage. The preface locates this work in relation to the earlier one. The first chapter starts by exploring the importance of narrative in a constitutional democracy. To be governed by a constitutional text is to have a practice of legitimation that rests on interpretation. Interpretation begins with a choice of basic narrative form. Project and system were the forms available in 19th century practice. In the 20th century, these narratives remain ready to hand, capable of fueling conflicting interpretations in contested cases. The latter part of the first chapter places these competing models of order in a broader frame, which I intend to use in the book.
I argue that they are two moments of Trinitarian thought, corresponding to the Father and the Holy Spirit. To the Father, creation is a project from which he stands apart. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is a source of order immanent in creation. To these we must add the third moment, the Son. This third moment sees creation as a sort of divine doubling. To the legal imagination, the third moment is the instantiation of the Popular Sovereign in a contemporary majority: individuals take on the body of the People. The book will argue that this moment fuels an antinomian element in the legal imaginary. This third moment grows in strength over the course of the 20th century, even as legal argument deploys the narratives of project and system. Chapter one’s largest goal is to show the importance of political theology to constitutional interpretation.
OCTOBER 13, 2022 — COSPONSORED SPEAKER
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus
Thursday, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. ET
Matthew T. Huber, Professor of Geography in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Title: "Whither the Green New Deal? The Rise and Fall of a Working Class Climate Politics"
Abstract: In the wake of the election of Donald Trump -- alongside eight years of relatively ineffectual climate action during the Obama administration -- climate advocates realized we needed a bolder approach to climate policy (or what some called a 'Medicare for all'-like demand for the climate). By 2018, that framework exploded onto the scene under the banner of a "Green New Deal" (GND) aiming to tackle inequality and climate change with rapid, public-sector-led decarbonization and broad, universal working class gains after decades of austerity and wage stagnation. Yet, by 2020, the GND movement sputtered into disarray. The recently passed "Inflation Reduction Act" might lead to decarbonization, but a Green New Deal it is not. What happened and why? What prospects for a working class climate politics remain?
The event is hosted by the UB Critical Ecologies Research Collaborative, a new collaborative of UB social scientists interested in critical environmental issues.
FEBRUARY 18, 2022 — DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER
509 O’Brian Hall; 12:00pm ET
Co-sponsored by UB Department of Sociology
Title: After Genocide: Memory and Reconciliation in Rwanda
Abstract: Memorials are powerful mechanisms for societies transitioning from mass atrocity to more peaceful ones. In this talk, Dr. Nicole Fox analyzes how memorials impact the aftermath of atrocity, documenting how state narratives to remember the past often marginalize financially distressed survivors, women, and orphans. Drawing on extensive interviews with Rwandan genocide survivors, and a decade of ethnographic fieldwork, Dr. Fox reveals survivors’ relationship to these spaces and how they impact various reconciliation processes. By analyzing the varied perspectives, decisions, and actions that create collective memories, Dr. Fox illustrates how the amplification of inequality over time shapes present-day crime, victimology, and law.
Speaker Bio: Nicole Fox is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at California State University Sacramento. Her research centers on how racial and ethnic contention impacts communities, with a focus on how remembrances of adversity shape social change and collective memory. Her most recent project examines individuals who conducted acts of rescue during episodes of mass violence, theorizing the social factors that shape such high-risk actions. Her 2021 book (University of Wisconsin Press) focuses on how memorials to past atrocity impacts community development and reconciliation for survivors of genocide and genocidal rape. Her work has been supported by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Prevention Innovation Research Center, and the American Sociological Society’s Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline, among others. Her scholarship has been published in Social Forces, Social Problems, Signs, Sociological Forum, Deviant Behavior, Journal of Genocide Research and others. Faculty profile.
MARCH 11, 2022—DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER
12:30pm ET; 509 O’Brian Hall
Title: The Double Lives of Police Professionalism: Police Reform in Practice and in Court
Abstract: Ever since police professionalism rose to the center of debates about police reform in the mid-twentieth century, courts have invoked that concept as a reliable check on police misconduct. Whether trusting internal discipline to scour out misconduct or crediting professional training and norms with ensuring good judgment in the field, judges tout the central platforms of professionalism as bulwarks of legal compliance, supplanting the need for more intrusive remedies. Training a deeper lens of police professionalism, not as a set of top-down tools for constraining police behavior but as a sociological process that shapes officers’ identities and attitudes, this article argues that the central platforms of professionalism—including the same ones celebrated by the courts—have not reliably mitigated police misconduct. They have also, in their own way, themselves exacerbated the leading causes of such abuse, increasing pressures to cut corners, deepening wellsprings of pride and violence, distorting the accuracy of police judgment, and breeding contempt for constitutional rules. Recognizing how professionalism’s positive legacies may be offset and undercut by its less savory psychological effects offers a novel challenge to a range of judicial doctrines resting on faith in professionalized police departments. It also illuminates today’s broader debates about police misconduct, expanding our understandings of the operational downsides of incrementalist reform. Not least, the historical example of police professionalism exemplifies the extent to which the central function of police reform has never simply been to shift police practices. It has always been, simultaneously, to mediate officers’ relationship with other legal actors, in those theaters of accountability where they are called to answer for their conduct. In a system that tasks multiple actors with ensuring that the law is properly enforced, experimenting with technocratic police reform does not simply risk failing to refine the daily operations of policing, or even making those operations worse. It risks reassuring the judges who oversee police behavior that their oversight is no longer necessary, obstructing what existing legal avenues for imposing accountability on the police.
Bio: Anna Lvovsky is an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches American legal history, the history of policing, criminal law, and evidence. Professor Lvovsky’s scholarship focuses on the legal and cultural dimensions of policing, judicial uses of professional knowledge, and the regulation of gender, sexuality, and morality. Her articles on policing and criminal procedure have appeared or are forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.
Professor Lvovsky's book, Vice Patrol: Cops, Courts, and the Struggle over Urban Gay Life before Stonewall, recently published by the University of Chicago Press, examines the daily realities and legal contests surrounding the policing of gay communities in the mid-twentieth century. As a dissertation, the project received the 2016 Julien Mezey Dissertation Award from the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities. Faculty profile.
APRIL 1, 2022—DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER
12:30pm ET; 509 O’Brian Hall
Co-sponsored by UB Department of Political Science
Title: The Elevator Effect: Contact and Collegiality in the American Judiciary
Abstract: Prominent explanations for appellate review prioritize the ideological alignment of the lower and reviewing courts. We suggest that interpersonal relationships play an important role. The effect of an appellate judge's ideology on her decision to reverse depends on the level of interpersonal contact between the trial and appellate judge due to information provided by social and professional interactions. Relying on a dataset of all published Fourth Amendment search and seizure decisions from 1953-2010, we find that interpersonal relationships can dampen the effect of ideology in appellate review. When an appellate and trial court judge have frequent contact, the effect of ideology on the appellate judge's decision to reverse is essentially imperceptible. These findings speak to the importance of relationships in principal-agent arrangements generally and have implications for the structure of the federal judiciary and our understanding of the limits of ideological judicial decisionmaking.
Speaker Bio: Michael J. Nelson is Jeffrey L. Hyde and Sharon D. Hyde and Political Science Board of Visitors Early Career Professor in Political Science and associate professor of political science at the Pennsylvania State University. His research, funded by the National Science Foundation and Russell Sage Foundation, examines the causes and consequences of judicial power. He is the author of Judging Inequality and The Politics of Federal Prosecution. Faculty profile.
April 15, 2022—DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER
12:30pm ET; ONLINE VIA ZOOM (only)
Title: Workplace Injury, Social Murder, and Law
Abstract: The United States has long been gripped by an economy which injures and kills many people in varying ways and with grim regularity, as have all capitalist societies. In the 1840s Friedrich Engels called this tendency social murder. The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest and most widely noted expression of this tendency. Legal and policy responses to the awful reality of social murder are pulled between a substantive effort to save lives, and a realpolitik aimed primarily at minimizing the consequences such killing has for institutionally powerful actors. Even when the priority of saving lives does prevail, that priority is often forced into compatibility with the imperatives of profit, resulting in people being consigned to poverty and exclusion, which has especially affected disabled people. In this talk Holdren takes his historical scholarship on the origins and immediate aftermath of workers’ compensation laws in the early twentieth century United States as a point of entry to examine these tendencies in capitalism, then turns to current work-in-progress attempting to theorize these tendencies via the intellectual resources offered by the Marxist tradition. He argues that these aspects of capitalist society raise critical questions about how movements for justice should understand the legal system and what the actual relationship is between law and the conditions which make justice possible.
Nate Holdren is an Associate Professor in the Program in Law, Politics, and Society at Drake University. He is a legal historian of capitalism in the United States and holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota. Faculty profile.
> Injury Impoverished: Workplace Accidents, Capitalism, and Law in the Progressive Era
> Marxist Theories of Law Past and Present (co-authored with Eric Tucker)
> The Reproduction of Moral Economies in Capitalism
OCTOBER 25, 2021
Monday, 12:00 to 2:00 PM (ET)
Location: 684 Baldy Hall, North Campus
Zoom Alternative (see details below).
Abstract: The 1992–1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina – which involved systematic violence against the ethnic ‘other’ through the genocidal campaigns of ‘ethnic cleansing’– resulted in more than 100,000 deaths, some 2.5 million displaced, 800,000 destroyed homes and the widespread abuse of human rights. Denial of the crimes committed, including genocide, started immediately after or even during the genocide, and it changed forms over the time. In recent years genocide and the war crimes are not only denied, but celebrated and glorified along with its perpetrators. By dehumanising the victims and rehabilitating the perpetrators, denial prevents the wounds inflicted by the genocide from healing and obstructs the reconciliation process. In the words of the prominent genocide scholar, Israel W Charny, in addition to denial responsibility, denials are celebrations of destruction, renewed humiliations of survivors, and metaphorical murders of historical truth and collective memory that increase the risk of the future genocides. Genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina is now used as an inspiration for terrorists and far-right extremists around the world.
Speaker Bio: Ehlimana Memišević, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Legal History and Comparative Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Sarajevo. She holds her B.A., M. A. and PhD in Law from the University of Sarajevo. She is currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the College of Arts and Science, at the Vanderbilt University. Her major research fields include genocide studies and legal history.
Speaker's related articles:
Co-sponsors: The Baldy Center and UB Institute for Sustainable Global Engagement (ISGE), School of Social Work
Contact: Filomena M. Critelli, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies, Co-Director Institute for Sustainable Global Engagement, UB School of Social Work
Phone: 716 645-1250
November 3, 2021, Wednesday, 12:00 p.m.
509 O’Brian Hall, UB North Campus
Join us for a presentation by Wang Feng, PhD (UC Irvine). Professor Wang is leading expert on Chinese demography and economic inequality. His research interests include comparative demographic, economic, and social processes, social inequality in state socialisms, and, contemporary Chinese society. The event is co-sponsored UB Confucius Institute, The Baldy Center, and CAS Department of Sociology and is free and open to the public.
Recent Publication: Convergence to Very Low Fertility in East Asia: Processes, Causes, and Implications. (Noriko O. Tsuya, Minja K. Choe, and Wang Feng). Springer. 2019.
Speaker Bio: Wang Feng is professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and an adjunct professor of sociology and demography at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. He has done extensive research on global social and demographic changes, comparative population and social history, and social inequality, with a focus on China. He is the author of multiple books, and his research articles have been published in venues including Population and Development Review, Demography, Science, The Journal of the Economics of Aging, The Journal of Asian Studies, The China Journal, and International Migration Review. He has served on expert panels for the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and as a senior fellow and the director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy. His work and views have appeared in media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Financial Times, The Guardian, Economist, NPR, CNN, BBC, and others. Speaker profile.
Related news, December 2020: Leslie Van Houtenan, the imprisoned follower of Manson convicted in the 1969 killing spree, was denied parole for the fourth time in four years.
March 5, 2021, Friday, 12:00 PM
Online Book Talk by Hadar Aviram. The online event is free and open to the public with advance registration.
The Book Talk is co-sponsored by UB Department of Sociology.
Hadar Aviram specializes in criminal justice, civil rights, law and politics, and social movements, and her research employs socio-legal perspectives and methodologies. Her first book Cheap on Crime: Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment (UC Press, 2015, winner of the CHOICE Award for Academic Titles) analyzes the impact of the financial crisis on the American correctional landscape. Her second book The Legal Promise and the Process of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2019) is an anthology of studies inspired by the work of Malcolm Feeley. Her third book Yesterday’s Monsters: The Manson Family Cases and the Illusion of Parole (UC Press, 2020) examines the California parole process through 50 years of parole transcripts in the Manson Family cases. One of the leading voices in the state and nationwide against mass incarceration, Prof. Aviram is a frequent media commentator on politics, immigration, criminal justice policy, civil rights, and the Trump Administration. Her blog, California Correctional Crisis, covers criminal justice policy in California.
Prof. Aviram holds LL.B. and M.A. (criminology) degrees from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from UC Berkeley, where she studied as a Fulbright Fellow and a Regents Intern. She is a member of the California and Israel Bars. Prior to joining the Hastings faculty in 2007, she practiced as a military defense attorney in Israel and taught at Tel Aviv and Haifa Universities. See faculty profile.
About the book: In 1969, the world was shocked by a series of murders committed by Charles Manson and his “family” of followers. Although the defendants were sentenced to death in 1971, their sentences were commuted to life with parole in 1972; since 1978, they have been regularly attending parole hearings. Today all of the living defendants remain behind bars.
Relying on nearly fifty years of parole hearing transcripts, as well as interviews and archival materials, Hadar Aviram invites readers into the opaque world of the California parole process—a realm of almost unfettered administrative discretion, prison programming inadequacies, high-pitched emotions, and political pressures. Yesterday’s Monsters offers a fresh longitudinal perspective on extreme punishment.
Join us for the online book talk by William A. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen, co-authors of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century (UNC PRess, 2020). Their work confronts racial injustices head-on, and make the most comprehensive case to date for economic reparations for U.S. descendants of slavery. The book contains a stark assessment of the intergenerational effects of white supremacy on black economic well-being. Darity and Mullen examine past and present to measure the inequalities borne of slavery. Linking monetary values to historical wrongs, they assess the literal and figurative costs of justice denied in the 155 years since the end of the Civil War. The co-authors offer a detailed roadmap for an effective reparations program, including payment to each documented U.S. descendant of slavery. The event is sponsored by the UB Center for Diversity Innovation. Co-sponsors include The Baldy Center and UB's Office of Inclusive Excellence.