SFJP University Tour, 2019
From September 25th to October 2nd 2019 the Scottish Feminist Judgments Project went on tour. Over the course of the week, project co-ordinators Sharon Cowan, Chloë Kennedy and Vanessa Munro cycled almost 200 miles, visited four cities, and delivered six half-day workshops.
We decided to travel by bike in order to celebrate the long link between women’s emancipation and cycling and do our bit to tackle the gendered norms around cycling that still exist. As Máiréad Enright, friend of the SFJP and co-editor of the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project put it, we were engaging in “critique in motion”. We were also raising money for the three charities that contributed to our project: Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Trans Alliance and Scottish Women’s Aid.
The tour started in Glasgow where we were joined by our feminist judges Nicole Busby and Claire McDiarmid and our artistic collaborator, theatre director Sofia Nakou. We held two workshops at Strathclyde Law School, which were also open to law students from the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of the West of Scotland. Each workshop began with a short talk by the project co-ordinators which introduced students to feminist judging, the importance of the Scottish context, and the project’s artistic strand.
Following this, we divided workshop participants into groups and gave them three tasks to complete. Using the legal case they had been assigned (either Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan & Anor, Ruxton v Lang or Rainey v Greater Glasgow Health Board), each group had to identify the issues that could be considered differently by adopting a feminist perspective. Once they had done this, they had a go at writing a paragraph or two of their feminist judgment, which would – in the course of a full, rewritten feminist judgment – help them reach their desired outcome. The final task, which was facilitated by Sofia, was to find a piece of art that represented how each group felt about their case. Some groups chose visual art, some chose a song and one group chose a scene from a TV show.
Strathclyde workshop Sofia Nakou
The day after the Glasgow workshops, we cycled to Edinburgh via the Union and Forth and Clyde Canals.
Chloë and Vanessa Project co-ordinators arriving at Old College
In front of the SFJP exhibition in the Quad Cafe, Old College
We held two more workshops in Edinburgh, which were open to law students from the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and the University of Stirling. We were fortunate to be joined by our feminist judge Emily Postan who, along with Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra, re-wrote Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan & Anor for the Scottish Feminist Judgments Project. This was one of the cases we assigned to workshop participants so, just as the Strathclyde students had met the author of the Rainey feminist judgment (Nicole Busby), Edinburgh students got to discuss their ideas with a certified expert! We were also joined by SFJP commentator Clare McGlynn and creative collaborator Jay Whittaker, who asked participants to create a ‘found poem’ using only the text of the original judgment they were re-working. The results were really powerful, as you can see from the examples we were given permission to share:
By Alison Howells By Victoria von Rintelen
Jay Whittaker at the Edinburgh workshop
The next stop on our journey was Dunfermline, en route to Dundee.
Sharon, Chloë and Vanessa with SFJP friend Sean on the old Forth road bridge
Crossing the Tay Bridge Outside the V & A, Dundee
At the Dundee workshop, which was open to law students from the Universities of Dundee and Abertay, creative collaborator Jess Orr (who had cycled with us to Dundee) invited participants to imagine the structure and contents of a fictional narrative connected to the legal case they had been assigned. Feminist judge Pamela Ferguson and SFJP friend Sophie Rigney gave us a warm welcome and joined us for the workshop.
With Jess Orr and SFJP friend Justina Joined by Helen, our tour support driver
Jess Orr at the Dundee workshop
Our final workshop was in Aberdeen and attended by law students from the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University. Feminist judge Ilona Cairns took part in the workshop and SFJP friends Greg Gordon and Malcolm Combe dropped by. Although Jay could not join us for this workshop, our Aberdeen participants also created found poems from the judgments they had been allocated. Once again, we were really impressed with the results, three of which we were given permission to share:
By Lauryn Sangster
Catching some air at Stonehaven