Professor Martha Fineman

FinemanMartha Fineman is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory University and will be hosted by Professors Sean Coyle and Marie Fox from Birmingham Law School.

Martha Fineman is an internationally renowned scholar of the highest standing, whose work addresses complex and boundary-transcending themes of human vulnerability and resilience. During the visit there are plans to organise a major interdisciplinary workshop on the broad theme of ‘Vulnerability and Justice’ and a more focused event on ‘Vulnerability and Embodiment’. Together these events will examine the many-stranded nature of human vulnerability, as it is manifested in diverse areas of human experience (medicine, education, employment, social life etc.). Vulnerability is at once universal and yet highly particular and ever-changing in the way that it is experienced. The task of managing vulnerabilities, and of building resilience across society is no less complex. The workshop and seminar would address the connections between the concepts of vulnerability and justice, and how embodiment is implicated in this relationship. They would examine how the articulation and exploration of vulnerability can inform scholarship both within and across a range of subject areas throughout UoB. Professor Fineman's visit would facilitate discussions with scholars from both across and outside Birmingham, paying particular attention to the question of how resilience-fostering mechanisms and institutions can be developed in distinct areas of life. In this respect, her visit would inform and build upon the IAS theme of Saving Humans and the College of Arts and Law research theme of Justice and Conflict.

Links are being developed across the University including Medicine (notably public health scholars in MESH), and (through the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research and other initiatives, such as the UoB Policy Commission on Healthy Aging) to explore wider engagement with the local community. Professor Fineman’s visit will serve to position Birmingham at the cutting edge of this emerging and vibrant research field, to build national and international links and to facilitate a major Research Council funding bid to take this scholarship forward.