A month in Amsterdam as an academic

By Jenny Domino –

I am very happy for being this year’s CICJ Global Diversity Fellow. This experience was special to me in many respects. The first is the most straightforward. I began my fellowship in the middle of revising an academic paper that I have been intending to submit for publication. The paper was a fleshier version of my LLM thesis at Harvard Law School. Since my research focused on incitement prosecutions under international criminal law (ICL), I was excited to present my paper to a panel of experts on this field in The Netherlands, the home of international law, teeming with ICL academics and practitioners. In contrast to my experience in the US, where I mostly only talked to my supervisor about my paper, I was thrilled to finally be in a place where ICL was something I could discuss with anyone without prior introduction, even over coffee, beer, or bitterballen!

Second, the fellowship forced me to make peace with the brutal, anxiety-inducing exercise of (re)writing. I finally mustered the courage to make judgment calls about the parts I needed to let go (always a challenge) and confront the daily horrors of revision– endless second-guessing, knowing when to stop reading and resume writing, appreciating and learning from colleagues’ feedback, and choosing the pieces of advice that should be woven into the text. Without the time and space particularly set aside for this endeavor, I would not have had the bravery to confront the details that the revision process entails. Further, CICJ requested me to deliver two lectures during the fellowship – one, to students of VU’s International Crimes, Conflict, and Criminology masters degree program, and the other to fellows and faculty members of VU’s Criminal Law and Criminology department. I consider the student lecture really special because I now know how it feels to teach students who ask incisive questions and show genuine passion for a topic I think about day and night. This was definitely the highlight of my stay there.

Third, as I am used to a US-style academic approach, I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in a Dutch academic environment. I was able to observe the similarities and differences in the two countries in terms of research approach, teaching style, class structure and coursework, and the classroom culture. As the CICJ is a center within the Criminology department, I interacted with criminologists more than lawyers. Interestingly, I had not known anyone with a criminology background prior to the fellowship. Such interactions thus allowed me to approach ICL from another perspective and added value to my research.

Having come from a developing country where law practice is the dominant narrative of success in the profession – which consequently accounts for a proportional lack of legal scholars – I appreciate the focus of the Global Diversity fellowship on young scholars from the Global South. I hope it shows that, with the proper resources and incentives, people from the Global South can equally participate in the discourse on international criminal justice.

I have nothing but positive words about the Global Diversity Fellowship. It reaffirmed my love for the academe. My only wish is that it lasted longer, long enough for me at least to get to know more the people at the institution – Joris, Maarten, Barbora, Maartje, and Marjolein, among others. Thank you for the amazing Dutch hospitality (and refreshing honesty)!

Jenny Domino visited CICJ as Global Diversity Fellow in October 2018. On the picture (from right to left): Jenny Domino, Barbora Hola, Marjolein Cupido, Maarten Bolhuis and Joris van Wijk.