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Postdoctoral fellow 2008-2009, Centre de recherche en éthique de l’Université de Montréal (CRÉUM)

University of London, England, Birkbeck College

Sara Ramshaw, BA (Hons) (U of T),LLB (UBC), LLM (UBC), PhD (U of London), is currently on leave from a full-time academic position at the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. Having clerked at the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) in 1998-1999, she was called to the Bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2000. Sara then worked as a Research Lawyer at the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court in Ontario before commencing postgraduate studies at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, England. Her doctoral thesis, completed in 2007, examined the legal regulation of jazz musicians in New York City (1940-1967) through the lens of poststructural theory informed by feminism, race theory and musicology. Her postdoctoral research project, entitled "The Law of the Extempore: Improvisation and Social Change", unpacks the relationship between law, improvisation and social change through the concept of the “extempore” . Her project challenges the extent to which the extempore can be completely absent from the Western common law tradition while being totally present in improvisation. Relying on the theoretical and literary writings of Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous, the extempore is unveiled as paradox or aporia, as that which unites the general (law) and the singular (improvisation) through musical and legal time. Beyond this, however, the singular and responsive dimension of the extempore opens toward otherness and alterity and ensures that change and transformation remain possible in Western law and society.

If people talked the way they drummed in improvisation, then I think the world would be a lot nicer…

– Youth participant, ICASP improvisation workshop