Amy Swiffen – The New Debate about Hate Crime

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5 à 7
March 4, 2014
Time: 5:00-7:00pm

Feminist Media Studio
CJ Building, Room 2.130
Concordia University
7141 Sherbrooke W
Montreal (Qc)

Amy Swiffen will present a paper addressing the implications for the legal debate in Canada of a new resistance to hate crime legislation that has emerged mainly in the United States. The concept of hate crime has been a subject of debate in Canada and the U.S. for almost three decades. However, the new resistance to hate crime legislation has not been addressed. It comes from groups in the US that represent lgbtq communities who are poor and/or of colour. These communities are particularly vulnerable to victimization by hate crime yet the groups have repeatedly opposed the introduction of hate crime legislation. This paper addresses the new resistance and its implications for the Canadian context by undertaking a comparative analysis of hate crime legislation in Canada and the U.S., and of empirical data on violent hate crime and victimization. It also draws on the legal theory of Walter Benjamin to suggest that a concept of law defined by a relation to violence can help reframe the mainstream legal debate in both countries in light of the new resistance.

Dr. Swiffen’s intellectual background is in socio-legal studies and social and political theory. Her areas of expertise include sociological theory, deviance studies, criminology, ethics, biopolitics, psychoanalysis and the philosophy of law. Her research is focused on the relationship between law and society in new legal contexts, such as human rights, international law and public health law. Dr. Swiffen’s book Law, Ethics and the Biopolitical (Routledge 2011) explores a new paradigm in ethical thought known as bioethics. Her research has been published in a variety of refereed journals, including American Ethnologist, Law and Critique, Law, Culture and the Humanities, Legal and Political Anthropology Review, and Theory and Event. Her current research is focused on hate crime legislation in Canada and the principle of ‘triage’ in public health law. She is also co-editing a collection of essays on the end of history and writing an article on textual metaphors in Freudian psychoanalysis. She teaches in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University.