Letten Prize Day 2021

Watch video of Letten Prize Ceremony and The Letten Prize Seminar

Time: September 7th, 2021
Place: Gamle festsal, University of Oslo, Norway


The Letten Prize Ceremony 2021

The Letten Prize Ceremony 2021 in honour of Meta Roestenberg

The Letten Prize Award Ceremony was held in Gamle Festsal, University of Oslo September 7th 2021 at 14-15 pm CEST.
Laureate: Professor Meta Roestenberg
Master of Ceremony: Asta Busingye Lydersen
Prize Awarded by: John-Arne Røttingen, Norwegian Ambassador for Global Health
Live Music: Nils Bech


The Letten Seminar:
The Role of the Legal Scholar in the World: The Promises and Pitfalls of Legal Activism
For full programme and bios, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Letten Prize Lecture by Letten Prize Winner 2018, Tarunabh Khaitan, University of Oxford
Anniken Sørlie: Legal scholar or activist?: finding the balance when queering law
M. Sanjeeb Hossain: Justice at Shahbag – ‘there and back again’
Malcolm Langford: The Responsive Scholar: Critical Empathy and Critical Empiricism
Ingunn Ikdahl: A closet full of clothes? Tailoring your legal activist outfit.
09:00 – 10:00Letten Prize Lecture
by Tarunabh Khaitan, University of Oxford
10:00 – 10:20Legal scholar or activist?: finding the balance when queering law
by Anniken Sørlie, University of Oslo
10:20 – 10:40Justice at Shahbag – ‘there and back again’
by M. Sanjeeb Hossain, University of Oslo
10:40 – 11:10Coffee break
11:10 – 11:30The Responsive Scholar: Critical Empathy and Critical Empiricism
by Malcolm Langford, University of Oslo
11:30 – 11:50A closet full of clothes? Tailoring your legal activist outfit.
by Ingunn Ikdahl, University of Oslo
11:50 – 12:10Coffee Break
12:10 – 13:00Panel discussion: Activism in the Academy
Participants:
Tarunabh Khaitan, University of Oxford
Hans Petter Graver, University of Oslo
Malgorzata Cyndecka, University of Bergen
Moderator: Asta Busingye Lydersen
13:00 – 14:00Lunch

In 2018, Professor Tarunabh Khaitan was awarded the Letten Prize for his work on human rights and discrimination law. Tarunabh Khaitan is the Professor of Public Law and Legal Theory at Wadham College (Oxford) and a Vice Dean at the Faculty of Law (Oxford). He is also a Professor & Future Fellow at Melbourne Law School, working on a project on the resilience of democratic constitutions, with a focus on South Asia. He specialises in legal theory, constitutional law and discrimination law.

To celebrate Professor Tarunabh Khaitan’s work, the Letten Committee is organizing a seminar September 7, 2021, on The Role of the Legal Scholar in the World. Tarunabh Khaitan has used much of his academic career to work with societally important themes on human rights and discrimination law. He is inspired by an interest for how social and legal science should deal with social and political problems and at the same time be true to scholarly methods. Professor Khaitan will give a lecture, followed by brief reflections from, and a panel debate with, scholars affiliated with Norwegian research institutions and universities.

The seminar will be held at the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo. The Faculty is interdisciplinary in combining traditional legal methods with disciplines such as international human rights, sociology of law, criminology, legal history and legal philosophy, and has a long-standing tradition of combining academic work with various forms of societal and political engagements. The role of the legal scholar and of the lawyer in society are themes that since the 1950’s have been discussed actively and in a variety of fora by Faculty scholars. Since the 1970s, the Faculty has also hosted two student run legal aid clinics, JussBuss and Jurk, which both have encouraged an activist orientation in their work. Moreover, several of its most prominent scholars have participated in political activism based on their academic knowledge, such as Professor Thomas Mathiesen, who recently passed away.

The Letten seminar will invite a broad discussion on the current challenges relating to the role of the legal scholar in the world by scholars from different parts of the world and from different legal disciplines and traditions. There will be contributions on the role of international human rights, law and development, discrimination law and on the structural power of law and authorities concerning inequality in the world. Seminar speakers are encouraged to reflect on the challenges of combining activism in society with honoring scholarly traditions. On the one hand, there is a loyalty to the academic requirements of being a scholar; on the other, academic knowledge may be used for the good of society in more effective ways by participating in activism and political processes. In short: What are the promises and pitfalls of legal activism?

About the speakers

Tarunabh Khaitan, University of Oxford – Letten Prize Winner of 2018

Anniken Sørlie, postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo
Anniken wrote her PhD-thesis “The right to gender identity: a grounded life cycle perspective” on the rights of transgender persons in Norway. She started working on the rights of transgender persons ten years ago, and has as a student, PhD-fellow and researcher combined her role as a scholar and activist to contribute to strengthening the rights of LGBT-persons in Norway. Anniken considers contributing to strengthening the rights of persons in vulnerable situations as an important role of being a legal scholar. 

M Sanjeeb Hossain, Postdoctoral Fellow, Oslo University
34 years after his Uncle was hanged to death by Bangladeshi military dictator General Zia, in the summer of 2010, Sanjeeb assisted the preparation of a Writ Petition filed before the Bangladesh Supreme Court challenging the execution of his late Uncle. Three years later, in 2013, Sanjeeb found himself in the heart of the Shahbag Movement, amongst hundreds and thousands of Bangladeshis seeking the death penalty for war criminals. All this culminated in Sanjeeb pursuing doctoral studies at the Warwick Law School, exploring the legality and legitimacy of Bangladesh’s fight against impunity.

Ingunn Ikdahl, Professor, Department of public and international law, UiO.
Ingunn has been working on women’s rights, human rights and law&development in Sub-Saharan Africa for nearly two decades. As founder of a joint European doctoral programme in Law and Development (EDOLAD), she has supported critical, empirically based research on what role law can and does play in international development. Recognising challenges caused by the dominance of western/northern academics, she has been organizing annual summer schools for early career researchers in the Global South, and is immensely proud to see the participants surpassing herself.

In the domestic Norwegian context, she has been a frequent public commentator on the “Nav-scandal” – the miscarriage of justice in a high number of welfare fraud cases – in traditional media, but also by establishing an academic blog on the case.

Malcolm Langford, Professor of Public Law, University of Oslo
Malcolm Langford is a Professor of Public Law, University of Oslo and Director, Centre on Experiential Legal Learning (CELL), a Centre for Excellence in Education. He was previously the Co-Director of Centre on Law and Social Transformation, CMI/ University of Bergen and began his career in human rights advocacy, working at the Australian human rights commission and Centre on Housing and Evictions, Geneva. A lawyer and social scientist, Malcolm’s research crosses many legal fields and his books like Symbols or Substance (Cambridge University Press) examine critically and empirically some of his own advocacy. Today, he sits on the board of many NGOs, such as European Implementation Network EIN and JustLabs, and he advises governments and international organisations.

Malgorzata Cyndecka, Associate professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen
Associate professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, affiliated at SLATE – Centre for the Science of Learning and technology at UiB. Cyndecka works mainly with EU/EEA law, primarily State aid law and data protection/GDPR. Having nominated the Polish ombudsman Adam Bodnar for the Rafto Prize, she has been active in supporting Polish judges persecuted by the authorities as a member of Rafto’s ad hoc group “Poland”, currently she represents the ICJ Norway in the group. She is very committed to defending women’s rights in Poland and argues that Norway should stop paying out EEA Grants to Poland that openly undermines the “rule of law” and intends to denounce Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Hans Petter Graver, Professor at the Department of Private Law at the University of Oslo
Professor at the Department of Private Law at the University of Oslo, President of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and author of several books. Graver is an active participant in the public debate. The latest ones being vocal about his concerns that the authorities’ crisis management during the pandemic in some cases may be a threat to the citizens’ civil rights. Graver was also a strong voice during the debate following the NAV scandal.