Race, Corporate Sovereigns, and Corporate Bodies

Event

NCDH room 201
Price: 
Free

With Prof. E. Tendayi Achiume

Abstract

Most legal theory treats border governance as a function of nation-state sovereignty, and as primarily the domain of the state. Prof. Achiume's previous work has done the same, and to the extent that she has theorized borders and possibilities for their re-imagining, she has centered states as the duty-bearers and world-makers. In this project, Prof. Achiume wants to explore non-state, and specifically corporate control and constitution of international migration and nation-state borders, and to use the concepts of “corporate borders” and “corporate sovereignty” to trouble traditional ways of thinking about border and migration justice. Central to her exploration will be the ways in which transnational corporations (colonial and contemporary) have made and used borders and race together as technologies of economic profit. 

Prof. Achiume aims to explore the ways in which “corporate borders” are racial borders, in the sense that they reify racial hierarchy and the sustain racialized exploitation. From the perspective of just international borders and migration, what is the challenge presented by the relationship between race and capitalism, and specifically by the ways international law serves as pivotal technology in sustaining injustice at this intersection? If international borders are significantly corporate borders, what are the implications for international law, and for the state-centrism of international legal theory of borders? What difference might it make to engage with corporations as de facto sovereign or super-sovereigns as the baseline from which border justice is re-imagined? If the neocolonialism of borders, and the racial injustices embedded in these borders are significantly a corporate affair, what sort of reorientation is required in scholarship, advocacy and policymaking on the future of borders and migration governance? 

Bio

Professor Achiume is the inaugural Alicia Miñana Professor of Law, and currently the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Stanford Law School (2022-23). She is also a Research Associate with the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of Witwatersrand, and a Research Associate with the Refugee Studies Center at the University of Oxford. The current focus of her work is the global governance of racism and xenophobia; and the legal and ethical implications of colonialism for contemporary international migration. More generally, her research and teaching interests lie in international human rights law, international refugee law, and, international migration. She received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2020—UCLA’s highest honor for excellence in teaching—and the Eby Award for the Art of Teaching.

In November 2017, the UN Human Rights Council appointed Professor Achiume the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, making her the first woman to serve in this role since its creation in 1993. In 2016, she was appointed to co-chair the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL), and she is former co-chair of the ASIL Migration Law Interest Group. In 2021, she was appointed to the American Journal of International Law Board of Editors. She also sits on the editorial board of Just Security.

Professor Achiume's publications appear in the Stanford Law Review, the Georgetown Law Journal, the Georgetown Journal of International Law, and the Minnesota Law Review, among others. She earned her B.A. from Yale University, her J.D. from Yale Law School, and a Graduate Certificate in Development Studies from Yale. Prof. Achiume has clerked for Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and Justice Yvonne Mokgoro on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and has practiced law in Johannesburg and New York

Lunch will be available from 12h30. Participants should contact jennifer.raso [at] mcgill.ca for a copy of the workshop paper.

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