A Report on the Second Critical Studies Conference on

" Spheres of Justice "


Giorgio Grappi, University of Bologna

This Second Critical Studies Conference, «Spheres of Justice», held in Kolkata from September 20 to 22, 2007, in collaboration with International College of Philosophy, Paris and Maison des Sciences de L'homme was composed by 9 session, and has seen the participation of as many as 24 panelists from many places in the world: India, Pakistan, Australia, Nederland, Italy, France, Finland and Canada were represented by the different panelists. In addiction, a public lecture was delivered by professor Etienne Balibar on «Justice and Equality – a Political Dilemma?».

This year the topic was «Sphere of Justice» and, as the Conference statement stated and CRG director Ranabir Samaddar underlined in his opening address, the aim of the conference was to put into the discussion different visions of what justice means in different field of research, with a particular focus on the political dimension of the struggles for justice, and particularly «social» justice. To put it in words that recall last book by Ranabir Samaddar, the «materiality of justice» was the background of this three days journey into the many ‘spheres’ of justice.

The first session was dedicated to different Philosophies of Justice, with papers by Francisco Nishtat, Juha Rudanko and Sandro Mezzadra. In term of global justice, stated Francisco Nishtat, we should put ourselves in a world horizon and recuperate a macro-scale, lost after Lyotard and his famous ‘end of meta-narratives’. After the 1990s the discourse on globalization created an idea of a destiny, and so naturalized globalization in its particular form. But, point out Fransisco Nishtat, the discourse on justice/injustice is in reference to a situation that can be changed by man. As the altermondialist movement program, the idea is the construction of an alternative globalization.

The concept of justice in its political dimension has to be related with the pre-ontological phase of the concept of justice: it refers to human agency and action. In this sense, we should quote Foucault and Arendt and look at power as the capacity for change. Despite this, after Rawls, we are confronted with a debate around ‘morality’ that avoids any political dimension and the very idea of political capacity/action and change. Thus, if we take into account the dimension of «political openness» we can speak of «injustice», that refers to something than can/must be changed.

The rawlsian vision in «Laws of People», that traces three categories of people and defines ‘liberal’ people as those that have some duty of assistance towards the other, has to be criticised. The other categories of men do not have any capacity for action. They are passive. So, ‘global justice’ in this paternalistic perspective works only as a normative dimension, that says to liberal people and rich countries, the only ones that really fits into the category of ‘people’, what they must/must not do in order to deliver some form of justice.

In his paper Juha Rudanko presented a discussion on the contemporary debate in the liberal field on multiculturalism. Inclusion, citizenship and political community constitute the landscape of that debate, that focuses on minority rights and protection, starting (as Kymlica) from a definition of cultural minorities. But, is the question that Juha poses, why and for which reason should minorities be protected? Between the two poles of communitarianism and postmodernism (as Marion Yong), Juha tries to find a liberal way to multiculturalism. Using Rawls, Juha argues that just as the formal equality of laissez-fair capitalism is inadequate in the economic sphere, so is state neutrality in the cultural one. Challenging the idea of a pure neutral state, Juha pointed out that, as minorities are in a disadvantaged position vis-à-vis the majority, state neutrality will treat minority members worst than majority. Starting from this point, Juha considers that in multicultural societies, justice is delivered not as individual liberty, but as equality: an equality that needs special rights for disadvantaged groups in order to be effective. Cultural equality is in Juha words «unjust» equality, because it leaves disadvantaged groups – minorities – in their position, and thus neutrality produces inequality de facto. A substantive concept of equality is thus needed. So, in order to realize these very same liberal perspectives, we need to criticize the neutral liberal approach, and in spite of a fictionary contract, we need to imagine participatory politics that consider as positive elements of cultural, religious and ethnic difference.

Sandro Mezzadra, that presented the last paper of the session, started from Walzer’s «Spheres of Justice» 2nd chapter, dedicated to the problem of membership. Justice is in this way related to the idea of borders between an inside and an outside of its ‘sphere’. Distribution of membership became the primary decision in order to create political community and political beings. In his essay Walzer take as granted the borders of political community, but now, after some decades, the very legitimacy of borders has been challenged as to become a central issue in political philosophy. But, points out Sandro Mezzadra, we should always underline the link between excess of justice and political subjects. Justice, to put it in this way, remands to an excess of the political space, and political subjects create this excess in their political action. Borders can be see as the translation of this excess of justice into a «given» order. They are fixed, and instable at the same time. If we consider Europe, we can see as Europe produce injustice, but also spaces where we can find production of justice. As border in Europe are becoming «junctures» of «selective inclusions», can we still consider the nation-state as the main locus of justice? Surely nut, we rather have to look at the movements and struggles of migrants in order to find new political subjects.

Discussant Samir Kumar Das and the floor raised many questions. Among those the difference between two idea of justice: the one refers to the political activity of social movements, and to the political action in order to break the normative order; the other refers to the problem of construction of justice and of who delivers it. These two dimensions constitute a pole of tension that criss cross any discussion of justice: when we think about challenging injustice, to the political moment of justice and its excess in respect to any given order (let’s say social movements for social justice), we need to take into account as an open problem the question of who, or what, can deliver justice. We are confronted, to put it in this way, with the central issue of institutions and their different forms: institutions are not simply given institutions, and given forms. We are rather confronted with a main question: can we see in the claims for justice, in social struggles and social movements, in this excess of the political, rising forms of new institutions, that challenge the very idea of institution?

If justice is related, in some way, to an idea of ordering people, their claims and to their bodies, we can see from the point of view of borders a field of tensions related to the very possibility of human bodies to move, let’s say to be, somewhere, and to decide upon their movements and their stay. As it emerged in the discussion, the perspectives of borders bring us to this contradiction: when we think about the openness of the struggles at the borders, we must also recognise and see the extreme closeness that the very border regime and institutions operate.

Looking at the question of justice from these different points of view, brings us to recognise that social struggles, but also different concept of justice in the contemporary philosophical debate (we can think of the difference between the ‘liberal’ view and the ‘critical studies’ attitude), are places where the very definition of what justice is at stake.

In this first panel, we were confronted with a three-level dimension of justice, and a sort of background for further discussion. These three levels are that of theoretical discussion (which idea of justice, or what we think justice means as a signifier); the global dimension of our perspective (we need to take into account the critical dimension of globalization and transnationality in order to have a complete critical view on justice); and borders as point of view (borders are physical places that are becoming more and more mobile, and criss cross the very space of the given institutions that deliver justice, and are a field of struggles for claims for justice). 

In the second session Feminist Perspectives of Justice were discussed by Maria do Mar Castro Varela, Nikita Dhawan and Biljana Kasic. Maria do Mar Castro Varela discussed how far the project of gender equality has progressed. After the 1990s a decade of ‘gender mainstreaming’, the political dimension of this project has lessened, and now we can say that the projects for «gender justice» is in a critical situation. This situation is shared with other equality project, due to a less favourable economic and political climate. But what is gender justice in this context? It is an emancipatory project, but it is different from gender equality, equity, or women’s rights: gender justice is a concrete translation of specific political ideology into terms of gender relations. This means that woman improvement is a particular project of gender justice, that aim to challenge the given gender relations, often considered as ‘natural’. But gender justice implies also different views on the means to achieve it: what is or should be the role of the state? What the role of international actors? And what is the role of political communities and memberships? All these different factors are involved in the debate on gender justice, and the use of the term «justice» is also an answer to the communicative failing of other as equality. In these terms, gender justice is related to both redress for inequalities and injustice, and to women political agency: gender justice is an ongoing process. On the international level there are similar points of convergence, but also many differences between groups fighting for gender justice, due to different contexts and theoretical perspectives. As power relations are not uni-dimensional, but rather operate following the model of intersectionality, gender cuts across all social categories and gender justice is an intersectional concept. Moreover, women cannot be identified as a coherent group and gender justice is not relegated to the public domain, but it focuses also on power relations in the ‘private context’. Social justice, rights, patriarchy are all addressed by the project and in order to achieve gender justice we must confront the rich-poor countries relation.

In dialogue with Maria’s paper is Nikita Dhawan’s paper. Here contemporary transnational feminist politics moves away from a ‘global sisterhood’ position. Using the term «transnational» is important to underline the difference with concepts such as ‘international’, that are based on existing configurations of nation-states as sovereign identities. Transnational feminism thus involves forms of alliance, subversion, and complicity within which asymmetries and inequalities can be critiqued. More important, transnational feminism refers to the study of the relationships between women in diverse parts of the world, where difference, inequality, complexity, heterogeneity in a multi-faceted world plays a decisive role. It is important, then, to study the different ways of becoming a woman, in relation with different types of power relations around the world, and considering the impact of colonialism, modernization, etc. in these contexts marginal women are increasingly vulnerable to global capitalist restructuring. In the third world, women are confronted with two forces: male chauvinist nationalism and transnational capital. Women from the neo-colonized countries challenged the dominant voice of women from the North, against the cooptation of women’s rights campaign for imperialist purposes, as that against Afghanistan, presented as a campaign to promote women’s rights by the Bush administration. This campaign is in part grounded in older campaigns by western feminists against the Taliban. There is thus a sort of ambivalence in the role of transnational feminism, as in the issue of funding: while Third World feminist critiqued feminist organizations for reproducing relations of class privilege, they were able to do that also because transnational feminism has supported local and marginal women grassroots organization. In conclusion, Nikita points out that transnational feminism has an important role within the global justice movement, but we need to recognise the multifarious dimensions of the subjects ‘women’, and the conflict of interests among the different women. Participatory politics that include working-class and rural feminists and dialogue are the way to a powerful pole of resistance.

Starting from the discussion on rapes during wartime in former Yugoslavia, Biljana Kasic asks what does it means «to render justice» after war crimes as rapes. Women, survivors of rape that wants justice, says Biljana, had to allow themselves to expose their own selves in public, during the trial, starting from their very body. The work of war tribunal in former in Yugoslavia is exemplary in showing the gap between subject justice and formal justice: on one side we can consider as a success the definition of sexual crimes as war crimes against humanity, and not as peripheral crimes. But at the same time justice delivered on this basis cannot restore by itself the sense of self of the victim. The discussion is about a wider social restorative approach for women survivors. War justice, even if it recognises sexual crimes as war crimes, fails to recognise that this crime is based gender motivation, and that victims of sexual crimes are mainly women. In this way, tribunals do not address these crimes as such, and they are blind in respect to the gender dimension of these crimes. Radicalizing responsibility means showing the vulnerable and controversial aspects of understanding crime or achieving justice, through the repetition of the original trauma during the trial. Testimonials have an ambivalent role: from one side they are relevant for the truth-finding function of justice, but on the other side they expose the hidden truth that «legal truth» doesn’t means to bring justice as such, or reach the truth. In conclusion, radicalizing justice thus «means both questioning the conditions of gender power systems, social injustice, global differences capital destructiveness to the most extent and taking an active stand against it in order to reinvent a potential of human».

Discussant Ruchira Goswami noted that all three papers manly focused on the 1990s, when the economic neo-liberal adjustment toke place on the global level. Is that related with the emerging issues about feminist perspective? It seems that gender emerged in his dimension of social relation with a specific role in the division of labour. During the discussion the different dimensions of the feminist discourses emerged as richness, but at the same time as a problem in order to foster a transnational feminist dialogue, as suggested in the two papers by Nikita and Maria. We need to be conscious of that, in order to address an important question: when we speak of feminist perspective, to which feminism are we referring to? 

In the third session on Transnational Justice Ivavlo Ditchev spoke about Spatial Justice: the concept refers to the projection onto space of inequality; a form of naturalization of difference. Justice is thus defined by local conditions, and injustice by difference between places. In his papers Ivavlo explained how in Eastern Europe, after 1989 the opening of borders, and the relative liberalization of movement, had a specific role in the redefinition of the past itself. People discovered, once they were free of move, their forced condition of the past.

Space has to be regarded as a social relation, that defines the possibilities and the role of different ranks of people: tourism, as typical movement of the elites, is a ritual movement that does not imply a re-definition of the self (travel without change). On the contrary, movement and migration after 1989 were an attempt to destroy biographies in order to move from fatality (the spatial definition of the self), to open possibilities and self-agency. That does not means freedom of movement, or infinite possibility of re-invention of the self: on one side, quoting Tsvetan Todorv, Ivavlo notes that every one has limited possibilities of change his self during his life; but, and more importantly, on the other side the opening of borders in the east, as a product of globalization, happened in a space that has become marked by even more inequality. Thus, if we can see in people’s movements and work force migration an active political agency (escape and evasion as a form of resistance), we must also see that transfer of population is a new way of disciplining the masses and consolidating the invisible power relations of the contemporary world.

As discussant Bishu Mohapatra pointed out in the following discussion, thinking about mobility we must always take into account the two sides of mobility: mobility with choice; and mobility without choice. Migration always refers to this double dimension, and we can call it the question of distressed migration, and distress in migration. 

In the fourth session Patrick Hoenig and Mohammad Rafique discussed Transitional Justice. What is justice for the victims of injustice and war crimes, asks Patrick Hoenig? After war crimes justice is a priority, but the case study of Uganda show that 80% of the people involved in war areas see peace as the priority. This means that peace came before the very idea of justice, or, that peace is a pre-condition of justice. This idea is confirmed by other cases under investigation of the International Criminal Court such as Congo, Central Africa and Darfur.

The simultaneous pursuit of peace and justice has proved to be ineffective, and often-new democracies that grow after years of war are unable to prosecute all those responsible for human rights abuses. Thus, truth and reconciliation commission may play a crucial role in forging reconciliation, but they can prove to be unhelpful to promote a more comprehensive form of justice: it is not only that social justice is not included in their operations, but the very prosecution of criminals is sacrificed in the stage of reconciliation. On the list of priorities, victims and survivors seek peace and redress before punishment for the guilty of crimes. The conclusion of Patrick Hoenig is that in post-conflict scenarios peace is a commodity for barter and prosecution is not a panacea.

Muhammad Rafique focused instead on inequalities in health status that are considered unfair, or inequitable, when they do not correspond to individual choices, but rather to constraints of inequality of opportunities. In Pakistan, health inequalities are high, and even if public and private health care are both available, class differences make access to quality care a major issue. Public health service is instable, and the role of the community becomes crucial, and thus Muhammad Rafique proposes an analysis based on community answers to some sensible issues such as: disparities between women and men; disparities identified by community groups; advocacy plans by the community. Findings show that poverty and lack of instruction are the first causes of illness and vice-versa. In a wider sense, poverty means powerlessness, and less capacity for agency (from the choice to move, to the very possibility to afford specific medicines).

On the side of government initiative, the problem of safe drinking water came out as one of the main public health issues. Together with other issues the general impression is that government is considered responsible of many lacks. Access to services is another critical point, as in many areas hospitals are not available, and often poor people can’t afford a taxi ride. Gender: a significant dimension of the health disparity is the status of women, which is conventionally divisive and considered secondary by men. Women’s status is in general mentioned in connection with power relations, as male superiority, decision-making, income and the fact that women are not allowed to move outside home. A social, besides just clinical, definition of health raises consciousness, resulting in a more public oriented approach to health issues. Looking through people’s perspective, the social definition of health changed the conventional clinical model of health that believes in the absence/presence of disease in medical terms.

In the discussion two different backgrounds of the presented papers emerged. One refers to international law; one to an anthropological background. Speaking of the international background, we are confronted with the question of the so called transitional justice after and during conflicts. The issue at stake is if there can be peace without justice: if we do not address questions involved in conflicts, can peace be durable? If it is true that peace is often necessary in order to start any process of justice, it is also true that peace is often connected to some idea of justice related with injustices that fuels conflicts.

Conflicts, has been said in the discussion, should not only be seen as armed conflict (such as wars), but as lack of peace induced by economic transition such as the one imposed by liberalization projects: looking from this point of view, we can see that the act that breaks peace is the economic intervention in a situation that delivered some forms of justice such as public services. Their disruptions became the kind of lack of peace that creates conflicts fuelled by quest for justice. When we think about conflicts that involves some form of violence we should pay attention not to identify any form of violence as war: we should instead mark a distinction between an army involved in conflict, and political militancy in conditions of conflict. This uncertain dimension of the very idea of conflict, war and peace is also related to the process of becoming mafia a of the nation-States, and becoming States of the mafias. As Ranabir Samaddar remarked, we can speak of justice in peace in time of war, but who will deliver this justice? Who is in the position to decide what is justice? To give an example: who can guarantee justice and punishment against US officials in Iraq or Afghanistan? This brings us to the key question of power in the definition of an ultimate justice: every given justice is related to a constellation of power that has been able to define and in this way produce a partial justice as «justice».

Looking at this transnational background, we are confronted with a global dimension of never-ending transition (Sandro Mezzadra) from the given institutional form of the nation-State, and something that we can productively see as a ‘living in transition’ condition for politics that can become policy-making such as in the case of Bolivia and Venezuela, where new forms of institutions, such as social missions, disrupts the given form of the state. 

In the fifth session, Rights and Justice – Justice as Supplement, a different point of view that dealt with the law system has been put in the field by panelists Pieter Boele van Hensboek, Priyanca Mathur Velath and Daho Djerbal. The starting point in Pieter Boele van Hensbroek’s paper was the contradiction that democracy faces today: on the one hand it has become the norm of acceptable politics; but on the other hand there is a widespread dissatisfaction with the operation and outcomes of democratic politics. Why? Pieter’s approach sets the raising question of what people in different places and in different position actually expect from democracy. So speaking he suggests, instead of starting with specific and limited concepts of democracy and politics, to study what he calls different «democratic imaginations» and conceptions of politics in general. Against the typical liberal views that limit the meaning of democracy at the political sphere, Pieter advances a four dimensions idea of democracy which includes participation, deliberation, accountability and rule of law; and four spheres in which they can be experienced:  the political, the economic, the private and family sphere and the cultural democracy. In order to enrich our political imagination, this agenda of mapping democratic imaginations needs sources and, mainly, access to traditions and texts which are to be different from the classical western democratic tradition. Far from any idea of political correctness and exoticism, Pieter shows how studying different political imagination can be a way to feed «our» political imagination. His example are taken from Franz Fanon and his attempt to overcome colonial alienation; from Julius Nyerere and his project of African Socialism, where he defines development as a collective enterprise, requiring solidarity and shared commitments; and from Amilcar Cabral and his particular Marxism that stresses the subjective factor in its history and the need for conscious and enlightened choice, and finally brings him to an idea of liberation as a collective ‘prise de conscience’ of people in a struggle to regain creativity and self-maestry. The aim of Pieter agenda is to find out the specific contribution of these and other authors (not only Africans, but also Latin Americans and Asians), who borrow western tradition and review those traditions in the light of their specific experience and place. More than following ethnic path or discovering tradition, Pieter wants to highlight that critical debates about different intellectual heritages are needed to bring into the picture the various democratic and dissident experiences and all the intellectuals that can feed democratic imaginations today.

The aim of Priyanca Mathur Velath’s paper was to discuss whether the claims of the rights of the displaced are internal to the paradigm of social justice or not. The process of displacement leads to deprivation not only of socio-economics rights such as the right of housing, but also a number of civil and political rights, starting from the right to be informed about the displacement procedures and the freedom of expression. While Indian Constitution protects all Internally Displaced Persons as citizens of the state, and in Article 19 (e) guarantees the right to reside and settle in any part of the country, India has no national policy or law for those forcibly displaced. Actually, many studies have shown that these rights are also substantially denied in the practice by state administrations and governmental agencies. The land-acquisition process, still regulated by the 113 years-old colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1894, is an example of the unfairness of the actual rules, and the failure of the IDP programs shows the need of a new and just rehabilitation policy that recognise the customary rights of the displaced, and then ensure total rehabilitation and full compensation. But, quoting Mahapatra, policies and acts are not enough, what is needed in order to achieve social justice is the active involvement of the affected people as participants in their own development, throughout transparent and people-friendly institutional mechanism.

Daho Djerbal in his contribution pointed out how political history of Algeria is affected from its colonial past. In post-colonial Algeria, justice is still a European justice: it is the majority that is subjected to the statute of minority vis-à-vis the law and the Right and is, de facto, excluded from the Right. A long exclusion of Algerian people from any role in the bench explains why in 1951 only seven judges in Algeria were Algerians known as ‘Moslems’: this fact led to a situation of minority and subordination of Algerians before the legal system which was separated in different regimes for Europeans and non-Europeans. This model has been shifted in the post-colonial time into an idea of State despotism under such conditions that the authoritative framework where the legal provisions were to evolve, largely allowed the maintenance of the practices and the infringements made to the honour in the colonial State. The attempt to politicise the Right through the definition of law as Socialist, Liberal, or Moslem, clashed with an executive power concerned with making the right its exclusive instrument. In conclusion, this finally led to a break between the society and the right of the State, and one of the consequences was to create conditions of rejection of a right evolving in harmony with modernist values, as far as the right, deliberately monopolized by the executive power is considered as stranger and repressive.

Discussant V Ramaswamy pointed out that West Bengal is from 30 years under the shadow of the left, and that the critical thinkers need to free themselves from this «monoculture of democratic imagination», that has became a darkening imagination turned into a process of self-education. For him, CPM is like a upside-down turned Fanon theory: they teach the people how to remain marginal, and after years of post-colonialism in India there is a sort of «institutional feticism» and an obsession with form and formality. If something lacks, it is believed is because the institution that should deliver that service doesn’t works as it should. India is dominated by «developementalism». In these context refugees and subalterns are a central issue, mainly in the political dimension of West Bengal, but often political militants don’t address the question clearly enough. In the debate Ivaylo Ditchev pointed out that we are not confronted with a neo-colonialism, but rather with a de-centralized system, where the nation - state more and more plays with international system and institution. In this frame, the idea of the need of instrumental – and flexible – alliances for political activists has been raised. Another idea is that we should be able to broaden the narratives on democracy: in which sense do we speak of democracy? In Western sense or what? We have different democracies, and different ideas on democracy. In this sense, the debate about justice shifted in the debate about democracy, showing similarities between the approaches that we need in order to debate these issues. Ranabir Samaddar observes that we are dealing with a clash of discourses, different ideas of society, clashes of idea of democracy. Francisco Naishtat sustains that political openness has to be intended not as factual, but as interpretation of the very condition of politics. Openness means not to accept the given as given but it has to do with imaginary and views of democracy and justice. This very imaginary is always confronted with the capacity of the power to re-absorb imagination (i.e.: we are using the language of accountability, but the WB uses this same language in his official documents). So the main question is about politics: how can we transform the different productions of meaning in a political force? How can we move struggles from the local level and fragmentation in a wider sphere?

Going back again to Algeria, Daho Djerbal notes that when we talk about Algeria, we need to consider how Algerian institutions are imported from France. Algerian state was modelled on the colonial state form, but didn’t answer to the demands of social justice. So the people, in this context, seek other answers in Islamic justice, which is often the only answer they see to their problems. Thus, we must be able to recognise that many Muslims go to Iraq for jihad, not because they are religious fanatics (extremists), but rather because they find in that commitment the only way to fight back what they consider an injustice (i.e. American wars and occupations). 

The sixth and seventh session were dedicated to Marginalities and Categories of Justice. Paula Banerjee, Danielle Haase-Dubose, Justine McGill and Saptarshi Mandal participated in the first part. Paula Banerjee paper explores how AIDS impacted the lives of unfortunate people, in East and Northeast India. And she raises questions of responsibility and local sovereignty. Chain of internal border production can be noted in the institutional answer to AIDS disease spread: sex workers immorality brings AIDS / tribal people at the borders spread AIDS. In this way we are confronted with a sort of victimization of the victims, through the creation of an internal border. From the very beginning of the AIDS history, the disease has been connected with marginal people: as HIV first appeared in New York gay community, the authorities and the public opinion link it to gay sexuality. When the disease turned elsewhere, other marginalized and ‘bad’ people were included in the category at risk.

Paula papers present the situation in north-eastern Indian states (Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland), where AIDS has always been related to some marginal rank of people, and to the idea of a threat coming from outside the country or the ‘right’ ways of life. At the beginning sex workers and drug addicted have been indicated as the locus of the disease, and considered responsible of its spreading. Thus, from 1990s cases were reported from other states of India, and it became clear that the virus had spread to the previously known ‘low risk’ groups such as housewives. But as all these states can be defined as Border States and so the Indian state without ever clearly stating it designated AIDS as a border concern or a disease from the outside. While looking for groups to criminalize, as tribal people and their customs, by insisting upon the “foreign routes” of AIDS and by focusing on marginal groups the Government has contributed to the myth of deviance of AIDS and thereby castigating HIV victims as a deviant and disorderly population. Analysis of the media reports during these years confirm this attitude as a widespread tendency that has the aim to reject AIDS, specially affected people, from the realm of normality. As the virus affects many categories of people, the border condition of these states became crucial, in most newspaper reports of the region the spread of HIV is seen as a result of porous borders and the  women who cross those borders  are considered the carriers of the disease. The corrupting influence is then quite easily designated as a foreign influence and women’s bodies are considered as the contaminated vehicles of bringing the threat home, bringing to a strategy of control of women bodies and raising new way of discrimination against them. The border area is looked upon as a site of pervasive threats.  If it is not the threat of security, migration or terrorism then there is AIDS, a seemingly insurmountable threat to collective health.

AIDS history brings us to recognise that the borders are politically significant places, and they reverse the capacity to mark an outside also internally: what remains constant is the perception of AIDS as a phenomenon of the borders be they geographical borders or people living at the borders of society.

Moving from borders to foreign occupation reality, Danielle Haase-Dubose’s paper is about feminism in Palestine. While complaining that Palestinian Legislative Council did not prioritize to gender equality, Palestinian secular women’s movement states that it has always prioritised the national struggle over a feminist struggle and followed the course set forth by the Palestinian national leadership. As Danielle points out, the occupation itself, involving the ongoing and systematic harassment of the population in different ways, don’t take priority for the entire population. Thus, while Palestinian women struggle for gender justice, they are also an active part in the resistance. Islamic law tradition in itself is not against women, but  Islamic Palestinians women are also struggling for a new definition of Islamic law and for its application in a way that can improve their conditions. That means that both secular and Islamic feminists are involved in gender justice struggle, and also that both are increasingly concerned by the imposition and spread of a conservative interpretation of Islam. But while secular feminism in Palestine insisted on the full equality of women and men in the public sphere, leaving a space for gender complementarity in the private domain, Islamic feminists insists on ideas of social justice that claims for a full gender equality. This strategy involves also a kind of  terrible gender equality, as it allows women to become martyrs, as a matter of fact many women who left a message to explain their gesture  claimed their right to sacrifice themselves, challenging gender-sexualized norms in resistance practices. In conclusion, in spite of seeing a clear cleavage between secularized feminism and Islamic feminism, or between Western and Third World feminism, we should be aware of the extreme injustice of occupation, the specific dimension of Palestine, a non-state, and the multifarious dimensions of feminism and its fluid boundaries. Starting from that, and removing our blindness to injustice, we can build a transnational feminism, based on dialogic exchange.

Comparing violence during the uprising in the banlieues, France, and the race-oriented rioting in Australia, Palm Island, Justine Mc Gill find similarities in the causes: they were both consequences of young men’s fear of being apprehended by the police and their ultimately self-destructive efforts to avoid this. Both these events happened in a situation of routine violence that creates an atmosphere of oppression for members of these communities, and this can explain, in part, why these deaths provoke such reactions from a sector of the affected communities. One can consider these eruptions of violence as pure and blind violence (extreme violence), or rather as counter-violence against the state or the social system. In her analysis, Justine points out that the social impotence of these communities expressed itself  in counter-violence against the state and the perceived injustice, but this becomes its own weakness: the real threat to the State is in this frame the symbolic one of having its own impotence exposed. Such violence is not to be considered political as such, but rather it operates to expose the impact and failure of political process. Thus, also if it is not political, it emerges out of the political and its crisis.

In the last paper Spatharshi Mandal raised the question: what does justice mean for Dalits? Saptarshi Mandal tries to answer this question by looking at three Dalit autobiographies. Starting from these narratives and experience of marginality, the reader gets a sense of the justice-concerns of the subjects and their hope for change. Against the tendency in the academic community to reduce injustice in neutral, impersonal terms, autobiographies bring us in the every - day lives and the experience  dimension of caste based marginality, something that is lost in many statistics or research on caste system. This led Saptarshi to speak about autobiographies as «Ethnographies of Justice». Associated with the idea of pollution,  (we can see from the real narratives that this  is more related to an idea of social pollution than real pollution or dirtiness), Dalits experience exclusion from many services as education, and  from the public sphere. This is reflected in the restrictions on their  mobility. Fostered by the upper castes discourses that legitimise this exclusion, Dalit condition is one of «forced illegitimacy». In a situation of perceived sense of helplessness,  these narratives construct the Dalit as an individual endowed with reason, dignity and human rights. In conclusion, these narratives suggest that the Dalits’ justice-concerns  go much beyond the confines of distributive justice and touch upon other issues as fear, powerlessness, violence and humiliation.

Discussant Ajay Gandhy pointed out the issue of temporality and  Justice context. Which is the time of justice between the two poles of a mythical past (Justice as a reply to injustice that broke previous situation) and the expectation of a better future (Justice as change and social movement for justice)? As demands by subjects of injustice are like the corruption of an image of justice through the struggles every group seeks recognition by the authorities.

Many questions have been raised in the discussion. Looking to France latest riots, how do we interpret these uprisings in the banlieues in the country? We have three possible ways: as a political or criminal or either a proto-political action. Dealing with violence, how we can trace a distinction between violence and counter - violence? Is counter - violence needed in some circumstances? Debate on violence brings the discussion back to the issue of war, peace and justice. Do we think about violence only in terms of organized violence by the nation army? Do we need to take into account the becoming mafias of the state? And which role we want to give to struggles, and political uprising? As Brett Nielsen notes, the debate about violence and non-violence is a typical de-politicising tool, a situation we must avoid in order to address real political questions. Violence as such can be seen in very different perspective: we can say that violence is for the Dalit movement the way in order to speak, the way to political subjectivation in an order that see Dalit as outside; but we can also consider violence in the banlieues, from the point of view of the French universalism, as a reaction against the failure of politics. So violence as such can be reaction, but can also be political activation. 

In the second part of this session panelists Niruphama Ramakrishnan, Shrita K. Vasudevan and Brett Neilson intervened. Looking at the criminal justice system in India, R. Niruphama suggests that there needs to be a sentencing policy clearly elucidating the purpose of the system, and in the same time immense importance needs to be given to the social and economic background of the convict as a mitigating circumstance. Niruphana shows in his paper that equality in justice system needs to be implemented in relation to the real conditions of the people involved in the process, rather than be a pure formal statement. At the same time, a sentencing policy is needed in order to avoid discretionality that led to juridical injustice.

Starting from examples taken from the everyday experience of women in public transport as bus service, Shrita K. Vasudevan try to demonstrate that there exist a state within a state run on the terms of social patriarchy. In these terms, patriarchy constitutes a threat to the very existence of the state itself, as it creates a system of values and behaviour that confront the rule of law. This proposition applies for Shrita only in the context of democratic societies governed by rule of law, as these only are founded on social contract that consider equality between his members as a fundamental condition for the legitimacy of the government itself. On the other side, thus, rule of law can be an answer to justice demand from the side of women. As the absence of state intervention leads the patriarchal stronghold to assume the role of the state and displace the influence of the state from the patriarchal domain, the state needs to impose its own rule over the patriarchal system in order to achieve full legitimacy and guarantee his very existence. From women point of view, thus, rule of law is a necessary tool on the street toward justice, but they also pretend their own social space, as in the case of women only public services, in order to escape men’s assault and to articulate their own demand and public liberty.

Brett Nielsen sustained a complete different point of view in his paper on the Pacific Solution. This paper discusses from the point of view of border struggles the constitution of the social as a field of tensions and material clashes. This means to move our attention from conflicts as internal to the social, to the social as a constitutive process  crossed by conflicts. Migrants’ struggles against Pacific Solution in Australia (that is the migrations rule adopted by the government to push out migrants from South-East Asia, rules that besides the establishment of extra-territorial camps, redefine portions of Australian island as non-immigration zones and prevent migrants to seek asylum). Civil disobedience by activists and struggle of migrants are in this context the symptoms of a high notion of justice that led us to see justice in terms of social struggles. Here the borders of politics itself are at stake and part in the struggles.

In the discussion Paula Banerjee remarked on Shrita K. Vasudevan paper that rule of law is an historical product, and we have to deal with that when we look at the law as a way against patriarchy (quoting Spivak). In his critique to Brett Nielsen paper Nikita Dhawan raised the point that elite migration fights in northern or rich can be against their countries. At this point Sandro Mezzadra answered that there is a link between border and transition in a wider sphere, while Spivak essentialise one given image of migrants and their “complicity”.  

Last two panels were dedicated to Aesthetics and Representation of Justice. Here we have a comprehensive discussion on the different ways to see the aesthetical dimension in the imaginary on justice and the role of representation in the definition of the mobile border between justice and injustice: this process can be viewed as a continuously ongoing process that partially and momentarily crystallizes the meaning of justice in a field that is as instable as criss crossed by struggles over the very definition of what justice, and injustice, is in the concrete dimension of social life. Production of culture, arts, rhetoric, anesthetization and memory are critical spots in this discussion.

In the first part Anne-Marie Autissier, Stephen Wright and Bruno Clement spoke.  Anne-Marie Autissier helped us to see how cultural politics inside the EU policy reveals the exclusive dimension of the so called European cultural dialogue: by deleting the recognition of diverse cultural tradition in the history of Europe (and defining Europe origins essentially as Greco-roman and Christian in Paul Valer’s words), the discourse on European culture creates a selective pattern that externalise entire pieces of the very European History and his human geography. While looking to western Europe and to the rising migrants presence inside Europe, this finally lead to internal hierarchy and to a cultural dialogue that see one side in the position to seek recognition and to accept the main tradition. That is against the statements on individual liberty as the Fribourg Declaration. The consequence is that Europe is providing fundamental liberties only to his core citizens, delaying east Europeans ones and providing restrictions for third countries residents or workers. In this context cultural justice has to refer to cultural diversity and cultural rights, starting from the cultural labour market. Here we are confronted by the general dimension of threat that all the other component of work are experiencing, with the broking up of social protection and guaranties. On the other side, cultural justice cannot be achieved if not starting from the recognition of the non-European’s contribution to an already emerging, from a bottom up perspective, European public space.

Moving from institutional policy and cultural market to the role of art, Stephen Wright paper try to confront the issue of blindness and myopia of those seeking to broaden the spheres of justice to other form of injustice. Every injustice is not only what we see, but also other forms of injustice that the very recognition of that injustice keep secret. Looking justice from the point of view of the aesthetic realm, art-related practices can play an important role shifting the partition line of sense-based recognition and challenging the self-evident order of perception. This can be better understood using Jacques Rancière definition of ‘police’ as the law that defines the parts in the social and political realm. Police is about the enforcement of an order under the semblances of self-evidence of the existent dimension. Put in this way art can play a concrete role through visual practices and his performative dimension. The examples of Argentinean ‘escraches’ are one of these possibilities. The performative dimension of these action together with their artistic languages give origins to political acts that are not pure art, but use art: they make visible injustices of the past and reveal their actuality in the definition of justice in the present. Under this point of view art can play the role to unveil injustices thanks to the capacity of criss cross languages, meanings and feeding political imagination.

Close to these conclusion but going in a different way is the contribution by Bruno Clément. In his paper the performative role of political discourse and rhetoric is crucial in the definition of justice. The starting point for this discussion is the definition of justice as something more than the simple enforcement of law, justice as so to be understood as a complex definition of meanings that give sense in implicit way at the very definition of justice. To put it in this way, justice is not more than his present discourse and not less than the nostalgia of an absent truth. Where and what is justice, thus? From the point of view of rhetoric a discourse on justice is, in Socrates terms, a ‘just discourse’ and a performative speech act. Thus, while justice is essential in order to define the essential, there is no essence of justice outside the discourse on justice.

In the second part of this session Anirban Das discussed abortion policy and bring us from the field of rhetoric to field of aesteticisation, starting from the abortion public debate between the so-called pro-life and pro-choice argument. Dealing with the law, justice cannot be pure application to concrete situation of rule of law between, but rather it has to do with interpretation, judge’s decision and the performative iteration of the law in a context where public debate plays a critical role.

In the last paper presented Rajarsi Dasgupta deals with the aesthetic dimension of justice in post-colonial experience of displacement, starting from different narratives. He contends that there is a terrain of justice and moral freedom, pressing for critical recognition in the ideas of home in refugee discourses, which cannot be understood in terms of logic, but only in the terms of poetic narration. These narratives constitutes moments of subjectivation for the displaced, and of definition of justice grounded in a reality far from be formal but rather framed ethically, overriding the law. This critical move, says Rajarsi, bring us in terms of a completely new orientation to life and politics that starts from the modern phenomena of postcolonial experience in order to produce a form of subjectivation fundamentally concerned with a critique of the subject of bourgeois liberal humanism.