On December 9, 2021, Visiting Scholar Lena-Maria Möller from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private International Law in Hamburg, Germany organized a panel discussion “Law, Gender & Popular Culture: Representations of Female Legal Professionals in Contemporary Arab Popular Culture”. The event was jointly sponsored by the Legal Studies Program and the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Speakers of this hybrid panel discussion were Swethaa Ballakrishnen, Assistant Professor of Law and (by courtesy) Sociology, Asian American Studies, and Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of California, Irvine, Lucy Jewel, Professor of Law and Director of Legal Writing at the University of Tennessee College of Law, Enass Khansa, Assistant Professor in the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages at the American University of Beirut and editorial board member of the Library of Arabic Literature at NYU Abu Dhabi, and Hania Nashef, Professor at the Department of Mass Communication at the American University of Sharjah.
Popular culture everywhere has a long history of imagining stories around the judicial system, legal processes, and everyday practices of law. As a result, legal professionals frequently emerge as important protagonists in film, television, and literature. Yet for a long time, these characters, such as lawyers, judges, or law enforcement officers, were overwhelmingly male. This slowly changed near the end of the 20th century when a shift became apparent especially in law-related screen productions. Until now, however, scholarship on women lawyers and their representation in popular culture focuses almost exclusively on US-American and, to a lesser degree, British movies and television formats. This is despite various recent Arab productions, particularly legal drama series, that feature women lawyers as the main character. Bringing together perspectives from legal, media, and literary studies, the panel discussed how such representations of female legal professionals in non-Western popular culture can be studied on a methodological level. The speakers also explored substantial questions, such as if the cultural export of US-American legal drama or British crime fiction influenced how law and gender are imagined in other parts of the world, how the actual participation and representation of women in the legal profession affect their depictions in different genres of popular culture, and if popular culture altered the way society thinks about female lawyers, judges, or women wielding power in general.
On November 21 and 22, 2021, New York University, Abu Dhabi, Arts & Humanities, hosted the Conference on the 50th Anniversary of the UAE Constitution. The historic conference served as the cornerstone of the university’s celebration of the golden jubilee of the United Arab Emirates. Co-sponsored by NYU, Abu Dhabi Legal Studies and the Oxford Commission on Constitutions, the events transpired in the Red Theater on campus. John Coughlin, Program Head of Legal Studies and Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law, convened the conference.
The conference brought together international and regional scholars to discuss the past, present and future of the Constitution. The participants included, inter alia: Mariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor of NYU, Abu Dhabi; HE Zaki Nusseibeh, Cultural Advisor to the President of the UAE, and Chancellor of UAE University; John Coughlin, Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law, NYU, Abu Dhabi; Nick Cochrane-Dyet, Chairman of the British Business Group, Abu Dhabi; Prof. Denis Galligan, Oxford University Professor of Law, Emeritus; Monika Magyar, Director of the Oxford Commission on Constitutions; Dr. Frauke Heard-Bey, UAE Historian; HE Counselor Ali Al Shaer Al Dhaheri, Director of ADJD Judicial Inspection Division; Awam Ampka, Dean of Arts and Humanities at NYU, Abu Dhabi; Faris Nasrallah, Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales, Dubai International Arbitration Centre, Researcher Max Plank Institute; Maheen Pfeffer, Associate General Counsel, NYU; Prof Abderrahim El Maslouhi, Professor of Public Law, UAE University; Judge Dr. Musab Salem Al Hosani, First Instance Judge at the Abu Dhabi Court for Family and Civil and Administrative Claims; Lord Edward Udny-Lister, Chair of UAE-UK Business Council; Prof. Yoseph Edrey, Professor of Law, Haifa University, Israel, and Prof. John Sexton, President Emeritus of NYU, Butler Professor of Law, NYU Law School.
Two full days of presentations and panel discussions among the participants pointed to the significance of the Constitution as the foundation of the rule of law in the UAE. The discussions also noted the paradigmatic function of the UAE Constitution not only for other nations in the MENA region but as well for the development of a constitutional order for countries across the globe.
Mariët Westermann introduced the conference and the keynote speaker. In his keynote address, Zaki Nusseibeh offered a first-hand account of the framing and adoption of the Constitution. Frauke Heard-Bey shared her research about the history and social structure of the Gulf States. John Coughlin sketched the relation between constitutions and the rule of law, and Denis Galligan explored the significance of the Constitution from the context of the broader theory of constitutions. Awam Ampka extended warm words of welcome to all the conference participants. Faris Nasrallah commented on forging federalism in the UAE. Maheen Pfeffer addressed the Covid pandemic from a constitutional perspective. Abderrahim El Maslouhi called for building an analytical approach to judicial review in the UAE constitutional system as foundational to the rule of law. Musab Salem Al Hosani described the constitution as a living and evolving document focusing on its meaning beyond the original text. Edward Udny-Lister addressed the significance of the constitutional order for economic development. Yoseph Edrey brought attention to the issues of finance and taxation for constitutional governments. John Sexton afforded insightful closing remarks to the conference from the perspective of university education. The conference drew an enthusiastic audience of judges, government officials, academics, practitioners, entrepreneurs and students. The NYU, Abu Dhabi Legal Studies students offered hospitality to the many conference guests throughout the two-day event.
NYUAD Legal Studies in conjunction with the NYU Law School Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law, and the NYU Institute sponsored the seminar "Global Sustainable Cities." Seminar conveners Professor Katrina Wyman of the NYU Law School and John Coughlin of NYUAD Legal Studies brought together a group of recognized environmental law experts to consider the ecological sustainability of six case studies:
Over half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and this share is expected to increase to close to 70 percent by 2050. With growing urbanization, cities and their residents have become major consumers of natural resources. However, if urban growth is managed properly, cities also have the potential to be efficient and sustainable users of natural resources, especially in this era of advanced technology that allows for remote monitoring and control of resource use. Recognizing the challenges that cities face and their potential, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” by 2030.
Given the COVID pandemic, the seminar (which was originally planned as a conference) was adjusted to occur over the course of six weeks during November and December 2020. The conference proceedings are to be published in a book under contract with NYU Press.
Professor of Legal Studies Rosemary Byrne organized a Seminar "Political Investigations, Legal Archives and Women’s Testimonies of Sexual Violence" held at NYUAD on February 16, 2020. The Seminar was jointly sponsored by NYUAD History Program and Legal Studies. Joining Professor Byrne, were Stephanie McCurry, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of History in Honor of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Columbia University, and Jane Ohlmeyer, Erasmus Smith's Professor of Modern History, Trinity College Dublin.
This seminar presented interdisciplinary work in progress exploring women’s testimonies of conflict-related sexual violence in three distinct historical settings: seventeenth-century Ireland, nineteenth-century America, and twentieth-century Rwanda. Case studies were drawn from the depositions of witness statements by women regarding the events of the Irish civil war of the 1640s, used in the war crimes tribunals established by Oliver Cromwell; American Congressional testimony dating from 1871-2 (including some of the first civil rights cases); and transcripts from the trials of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda emerging from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Seen through the prisms of history and law, these testimonies from different geographies, chronologies and sources illustrate not only the various ways in which sexual violence is used in campaigns of terror, but how it is instrumentalized in later political and legal investigations.
On February 11-12, 2019, Frank Upham, Wilf Family Professor of Property Law at the
NYU Law School, visited NYUAD Legal Studies to give talks on: (1) his book, The Great
Property Fallacy, published by Cambridge University Press; and (2) the issues of same-
sex marriage and LGBT Rights in Japan. Both of these erudite, engaging and well-
attended talks engendered lively discussion among faculty and students. John
Coughlin, Legal Studies Program Head, extended the invitation for Professor Upham’s
visit as well as chaired the two sessions.
On November 27-28, 2018, Legal Studies in conjunction with the NYUAD Institute hosted the workshop "Constitutional Development in the GCC States." Legal Studies faculty members, Elham Fakhro and John Coughlin, joined a group of ten constitutional experts from the Gulf region and beyond.
Participants presented papers on country-specific and thematic topics, aimed at providing an analytic overview of the constitutional systems in each Gulf state, commonalities between the different states, and trends in their development. The participants provided feedback on each other’s papers and engaged in discussion on these topics. Several members of the NYUAD faculty and interested students were also in attendance and contributed to a lively discussion.
A conference "Global Legal Education, Ethics, and the Environment," inaugurated the Legal Studies program on April 23 and 24, 2018. Sponsored in conjunction with the NYUAD Institute, the conference gathered a diverse group of scholars who discussed some of the theory, questions and practice entailed in formulating a pluralistic and cross disciplinary approach to legal education for undergraduates in a liberal arts and cross-disciplinary context.
Convened by the Legal Studies founding program head, John Coughlin, the principal speakers included:
Among the other conference participants were:
The phenomenon of globalization and its criticisms has called into question the predominance of the nation state and its corresponding traditional legal doctrines and disciplines. At the same time, law remains jurisdictional specific. The three principal topics of the conference, global legal education, ethics, and the environment, raised fundamental questions about the rule of law, international business, law and media, human rights, technology and security, and the professional responsibility of lawyers. The conference discussed the possibilities for a healthy tension between the global and the local leading to a broad conversation about how legal education might be re-imagined. As with the approach of the NYUAD Legal Studies program, the conference’s discussion transpired in light of the liberal arts tradition that integrates the humanities and social sciences.
Professor John Coughlin convened this seminar co-sponsored by the NYU, Abu Dhabi Institute and Legal Studies on January 11, 2017. Islam and Christianity share the vision of being universal and missionary religions, both about equally strong in number of followers.
Focusing on the relationship of Christianity and Islam, this panel considered the following question: how do Muslims and Christians serve the same God, who for both is God of Justice and Mercy, God of Majesty and Beauty, omnipotent and omnipresent? Both Muslims and Christians know that their ultimate destiny is anchored in the justice and mercy of God who alone offers life eternal beyond death to everyone.
With a large number of participants including many regional scholars and university faculty, this session explored various aspects of these insights from theological, legal, historical and social perspectives.
The event was moderated by John Coughlin, Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law, NYUAD