Global Structural Injustice and Minority Rights

March 13, 2020 - March 15, 2020
Department of Philosophy, Northeastern Universtity

360 Huntington Avenue
Boston 02115
United States

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University of Ottawa
Northeastern University
Arctic University of Norway - Tromsø
University of Tromsø

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Keynote Speakers

Avigail Eisenberg, University of Victoria

Stephen Gardiner, University of Washington

Catherine Lu, McGill University

Conference Theme

The concept of structural injustice is one that has been given a lot of attention by political philosophers in recent years. Iris Young defined structural injustice as a kind of moral wrong that is distinct from unjust, biased or malicious actions by individual actors or policies of states. Rather, structural injustice is the result of actions by many different actors and institutions over long periods of time, actions which are not necessarily unjust and may even be morally neutral or positive. Even though the individual actions may not be unjust in themselves, the resulting structural features may be said to be unjust because they unfairly constrain some people’s options and threaten them with deprivation, where as they benefit others. Individual actions play a role, of course, since structural injustice is maintained through the behavior and actions of individuals, but the focus of moral concern is the structures that perpetuate it.

The structural injustice framework has been used to discuss domestic political questions. But can it also be used to consider global social and political challenges? The guiding question of this conference is: Can the concept of structural injustice be fruitfully applied to global problems? For example, can the harms of climate change, forced displacement, gender inequality, economic inequality, etc., be understood as forms of structural injustice? Furthermore, can this framework help us to understand how we should ascribe responsibility for these global challenges?

A particular focus of this conference will be minority rights. Can structural injustice help us to understand how to better address injustices experienced by members of global minorities such as Indigenous populations, refugees, climate refugees, members of the LGBTQ community, etc.? How have global minorities attempted to resist and transform the conditions of structural injustice that impact them?  Should global minorities (and their allies) aim to transform domestic or global institutional structures (or both)?  How can global minorities (and their allies) collaborate to resist and transform structural injustice?

Papers relating to any aspect of the theme of global structural injustice and minority rights will be considered.

Please email 300-500 word abstracts to Ava Sasani ( by: July 1, 2019


This conference is organized by the Department of Philosophy at Northeastern University in Boston in cooperation with UiT The Arctic University of Norway and the Globalizing Minority Rights Project ( The conference is supported by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council

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