Thursday, August 20, 2009
"Outsiders Inside," LatCrit XIV, American University - Washington College of Law, October 1-4, 2009.
Fourteenth Annual LatCrit (Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory, Inc.) Conference. In October 2009, LatCrit will meet inside the Beltway for the first time in its history amidst a tectonic shift in American government. With the January inauguration of President Barack H. Obama, the nation’s first “outsider” president, we also saw the ascendance of a new progressive governance philosophy in Washington. As a biracial former law professor with working class and immigrant roots and an international and multicultural upbringing, Mr. Obama ran a progressive campaign that echoed many core LatCritical values, including internationalism and global-mindedness, the valorization of human rights and multidimensional diversity, the centrality of antidiscrimination work, a commitment to rigorous interrogation of longstanding dominant assumptions and norms, and a preference for discourse and dialogue over militarism. Notably, President Obama’s Yes We Can! campaign slogan has its roots in the ¡Si Se Puede! rallying cry coined by Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers movement and invoked in more recent progressive and mostly Latino/a political actions. The new Presidential administration and enlarged bicameral Democratic majority in Congress account only for part of the historic paradigmatic transition in American national government. The ongoing deterioration of the American and world economies also has catalyzed an aggressive reassessment by moderate and even some conservative thinkers of the wisdom of the Reagan Revolution’s uber alles dependency on the private marketplace for the realization of the public good – an antiregulatory disposition that dominated federal government through the last seven presidential administrations. In the United States, the failure of the government’s dominant antiregulatory disposition to prevent the ensuing economic meltdown has catalyzed a new, aggressive Federal response in the form of much more statist economic interventions, including the de facto nationalization of key economic components. To add irony, it was the administration of President George W. Bush – the loudest in exalting the power of unbridled private marketplaces to regulate themselves – that laid the foundation for the national takeover of large sectors of the financial services and banking industries. These quantum changes in the leadership and driving philosophies of American government present unique and in some cases unprecedented opportunities for scholars engaged in critical outsider scholarship to influence and inform national policy and legislation. The new executive and legislative branch incumbents have telegraphed early receptivity to the instantiation of LatCritical and other progressive theories and principles in the tangible products of Federal government (i.e., legislation, regulation, presidential directives, and, of course, caselaw). As President Obama’s aspirational campaign continues to transition into the nouveau regime at the helm of the most powerful government on Earth, millions of Americans expect the vague Yes We Can promise to become the Yes We Are reality. But with these openings come potential pitfalls. More information may be found here: http://www.law.du.edu/latcrit/documents/LatCrit_XIV_Call_for_Papers_and_Panels_final_March9.pdf.