Professor Fineman is Visiting Professor at British Columbia’s Green College
Martha Albertson Fineman was the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Visiting Professor at Green College at the University of British Columbia this past fall. Fineman presented four lectures and workshops during her month-long stay, including the Ericson Lecture. Green College’s Academic Committee selects outstanding scholars from nominations received from the campus community.
Founding director of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project, Fineman is a leading authority on feminist jurisprudence. Recently she developed the concepts of vulnerability and resilience as an alternative to traditional equal protection and human rights analyses, building a post-identity inquiry not solely focused on discrimination against groups, but concerned with the conferral of privilege and disadvantage through societal institutions and the state.
Her lectures included “The Eclipse of Public Education, Parental Rights and Corporate Power,” which explored the implications of schools as a battleground in American culture in which parental rights are entangled with religious freedom and education is seen as a profit center for private investment. The obligation of the state to children as individuals for whom it has an educational obligation risks being overwhelmed by discussions of a parent’s right to choose to place children in private schools or home schooling situations with little accountability to or monitoring by the state. Fineman argues that as with many other policies affecting children and families, the rights and responsibilities of parents must be moderated by a primary focus on the best interests of the child.
Fineman also gave the second annual Ericson Lecture on “Vulnerability and the Human Condition: A Different Approach to Equality.” Vulnerability analysis, pioneered by Fineman, concentrates on the role of institutions and structures in allocating and generating assets and resources which are essential for managing our universal and constant human vulnerabilities. She also organized a workshop on “Corporate Rights Versus Children’s Interests” in which a dozen scholars from around the globe presented papers.