Realizing the Power of Perspectives – A Reflection on the Deux Ex Machina Conference 2023

Anmol Kaur Nayar (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University)


“The greatest tragedy for any human being is going through their entire lives believing the only perspective that matters is their own.” – Doug Baldwin


I realized the power of this quote during my presence in the Deux Ex Machina Law Conference organised by LLHAA at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane in December last year. For me, the idea first effectuated during the pre-conference day – the HDR day. The panel discussions on the first day were intended to set an interactive mood between participants and organisers, paving the way for exchange of immense knowledge about different streams over the next three days.


To begin, thinking of the power of perspectives, the session – “Publishing and (not) Perishing” comes to my mind. As a researcher, one has a constant drive to share one’s findings through publications. Often, in the journey of getting published, we researchers tend to get absorbed into our version of rationality, trying to rigorously guard the essence of our research. A streak which might be perceived as “being rigid” from the editor’s end. The panel discussion on “Publishing and (not) Perishing” involved a look at the publishing process from the lens of the editor. Not only did it enhance my understanding of the process, especially from the editor’s standpoint, but it also equipped me with an approach to finely balance my perspective as a researcher against that of the editor with utmost delicacy.


I also learnt the importance of perspectives during panel session 3 of day 1 on the stream “Feminist legal scholarship to re-imagine the world: A celebration”. Apart from me, two other panelists presented during the session. The first presentation was by Sevda Clark and Guarneros – Sanchez. They presented “Making an Issue: Personal Reflections on Presenting to the UN on Australia’s Implementation of the Women’s Convention.” During the course of presentation, the audience were taken through the first hand experience of the authors in raising the issues of CEDAW implementation by Australia before the UN. Since presenters were the sole representatives from Australian NGOs, the presentation was centered around the role of NGOs as an instrument for securing women’s rights in the background of Australia’s commitments under CEDAW. The second presentation was by Inês Espinhaço Gomes, titled “‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman’: A Commentary of the Semenya vs. Switzerland Case”. The presentation involved an analysis of the case of professional intersex female athlete Caster Semenya, who faced disqualification from competing internationally since her naturally high levels of testosterone levels caused her to be ineligible in terms of criteria laid down in internationally established “Differences of Sex Development (DSD) Regulations”. Though in this case the European Court of Human Rights held Switzerland to be violating the right to non-discrimination under ECHR, it did not comment on the validity of DSD regulations. It is the analysis of this decision from the perspective of Queer Legal Theory and Intersectional Feminism that made this presentation so unique. Inês presented a critique of the decision from the perspective of its impact on trans and intersex women athletes within the framework of Sports Law and Human Rights. The presentation ended with the song “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy.


Two ideas kept me thinking about this panel for the days to come. Firstly, the astounding diversity of human thought on a single idea, which in case of this session, was Feminism. Secondly, the methodology of approaching different facets of this idea and its expression. Now that I reflect on this session, my biggest takeaway from it is that conflict is nothing but a mutual failure in appreciating perspectives. Conversely, would appreciation of perspectives mean the end of conflict?


My experience at the conference reminds me of C Allan Gilbert’s work “All is Vanity”, which illustrates how a single visual can produce widely contrasting perspectives.


Charles Allan Gilbert, “All is Vanity” (1892)