Inaugural George Flannery Visiting Fellow leaves her mark

25 August 2023
A conversation with Associate Professor Ashwini Vasanathakumar
Associate Professor Ashwini Vasanthakumar was Sydney Law School's inaugural George Flannery Visiting Fellow, recently finishing her tenure in the role. Ashwini is a Queen's National Scholar in Legal and Political Philosophy at Queen's Law School in Canada. We caught up with Ashwini regarding her time at the Sydney Law School.
Associate Professor Ashwini Vasanthakumar

A/Prof Ashwini Vasanthakumar

Why did you choose Sydney Law School for your visit?

I was fortunate to participate in a conference, Law and Injustice, organised by the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence (JSI) in December 2022. It was such an intellectually rich and enjoyable few days, and I received a lot of helpful comments and encouragement on my research. I knew I wanted to come back to continue some of those conversations, and I feel incredibly fortunate that this fellowship made that feasible.

What did you work on during your visit?

I focused on my book project, which looks at victims' duties in the context of oppression. I'd presented Chapter 3 in December, and spent my fellowship revising that chapter and working on Chapter 4, which was the subject of my JSI seminar in July.

How was your research influenced or enriched by your time at Sydney Law School?

I was surprised by the level of intellectual activity going on at the law school given that my visit coincided with the end of term, exams, and marking — which usually spells doom for all intellectual activity!

There were several seminars and reading group meetings, a visiting professor (Prof. Damiano Canale) and post-doctoral fellow (Dr. Meir Yarom) — all of which provided several formal opportunities for discussing research.

Equally important, though, were the impromptu conversations I had with members of the faculty and the JSI. It's difficult to overstate the importance of these conversations — they not only helped me solve problems in my own writing, but pointed me to other sources, helped me make connections I hadn't seen, and introduced me to research topics I hadn't encountered before.   

What was the highlight of your visit to Sydney Law School?

The conversations and walks with various members of the JSI and law faculty, often around your beautiful campus. A scholarly life is often thought to be a solitary life of the mind. Whether or not this is true (or desirable), it is vastly enhanced by a community of generous and curious interlocutors in a place of natural beauty. Sydney Law School and the JSI has these in spades.

What was a standout experience from your trip to Australia?

Visiting Tasmania. And encountering 'bin chickens'!

Apply for a Visiting Fellowship

Applications are now open for Sydney Law School's 2024 Visiting Fellowships scheme. The deadline for applicants to contact a prospective academic host is Friday, 15 September 2023. Applications close on Monday, 25 September 2023.

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