Social justice and human rights

Building on the Law School’s longstanding reputation for its progressive approach to social and legal change, and research excellence in socio-legal scholarship and Gender, Sexuality and Law inquiries, SJHR members apply doctrinal, empirical and theoretical methodologies to diverse legal settings raising issues of social justice and human rights. Theoretical frameworks include critical, feminist, queer, Marxist, materialist, postmodern and post-structural theory, alongside moral and political philosophy. Those scholars within SJHR drawing on critical legal theory understand law as a regulatory tool that is constituted by and constitutive of broader social relations. The law is therefore critically approached as both productive of inequality and injustice, and a possible site for responding to and advancing social justice as actively demonstrated in the Community Legal Outreach Collaboration, Keele access to justice research collation and generation site.

Current SJHR members are broadly grouped according to those researching the regulation of gender and sexuality (GSL), social justice, with a focus on material inequality, and human rights theory and practice.

GSL scholars have researched, or are currently researching, the relationship between law and sex, gender and sexuality through work on the legal regulation and production of transgender bodies, ‘Foucault’s Monsters and the Challenge of Law’, (Routledge, 2010), and 'The Sexual Ethics of Intimacy: The Case of Non-Disclosure of Gender History', supported by a Leverhulme Fellowship 2016-2017 (Alex Sharpe).

GSL perspectives have informed alternative frameworks for  social justice through intersectional, relational and collaborative perspectives towards transformative justice, ‘Reclaiming Rights’,  Jane Krishnadas with public interest litigant S. Krishnadas, (Pluto); gender, power and resistance in prison with a specific focus on penal governance in Germany, Fabienne Emmerich.

Human rights and equality researchers have published or are currently researching on religion and intolerance; freedom of expression; and conscientious objection, ‘Intolerant Religion in a Tolerant-Liberal Democracy’ (Hart, 2015), (Yossi Nehushtan); the status of religious claims (Tony Bradney and Yossi Nehushtan). Researchers have highlighted contemporary debates on data protection as a human right (Maria Tzanou); disability equality, access to goods and services and contract law, ‘Disability and Information Technology: A Comparative Study in Media Regulation’,(Cambridge University Press, 2013), (Eliza Varney).

Researchers apply the social justice and human rights perspectives to inform current issues of access to justice in the UK, Jane Krishnadas, testimonial styles and presentations of asylum claims, Forough Ramezankhah, and human rights dimensions of transnational crime, terrorism and particularly human trafficking, Tomoya ObokataSenthorun Raj critically engages with the way emotions shape legal responses that seek to progress the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

Members have influenced policy debate in the areas of gender recognition, transgender health, sex trafficking, domestic violence and access to justice for litigants in person:

  • Impact of the changes to civil legal aid under the Legal Aid, Sentencing, Punishment of Offenders Act, 2014.
  • ‘Misconceptions about the asylum process’, Forough Ramezankhah.
  • 'Non-disclosure of Gender History', Alex Sharpe.

Researchers have been awarded grants to support national and international collaborations for social justice and human rights.

Jane Krishnadas co-led the successful Research Innovationsand Study Mission grants  in Social and Legal Outreach Methodologies, with Prof Laskhmi Lingam, TISS, Hyderabad UK, India Education and Research Iniative, and has recently been awarded an extension to share good practice within the India Access to Justice Programme, with University Law schools and law centres across India.

Alison Brammer, is PI of an ESRC seminar series grant entitled, The Care Act 2014: a new legal framework for Safeguarding Adults in Civil Society'.  The aim of the proposed seminar series is to explore how the new legal rules emerged through a policy process, the challenges of interpretation that emerge and how practitioners and their organisations can be supported to deliver the intentions and requirements of the Care Act 2014 and keep people safe from abuse and harm.

Events include an author meets reader book launch for Keren-Paz’s 'Sex Trafficking: A Private Law Response'.

Jan 18th 2015: the Magna Carta ‘Right to Assistance, Public Duty to Assist’ National Launch of CLOCK, with Plenary Speakers; Lord Justice Ryder, Professor Richard Susskind (IT Advisor to the Chief Justice), Prof Richard Grimes, (Chair CLEO) Richard Miller (Head of Legal Aid) and Director of Southall Black Sisters.

Sept 18th 2015: CLOCK Research ‘Access to Justice Collaborations’, with University leads from Sussex, Brighton, Essex, Salford, Liverpool John Moores, Wolverhampton, Birmingham City University and Staffordshire.

December 2nd 2015: Human Rights in Collaboration Series - "Human rights in times of 'crisis'"

SJHR provides postgraduate education and research training through PhD supervision, and the LLM in Law and Society, the MA in Human Rights Globalisation and Justice, and contribution to other Masters programmes such as the LL.M. in International Law and M.A.s in Medical Ethics and Law and Child Care and Legal Protection.

  • Transgender People, Prisons and Human Rights (Robyn Emerton);
  • Combating Trafficking in Saudi Arabia (Norah Al-Shareef);
  • Increasing the participation of persons with disabilities within the legal profession ();
  • Access to justice (Stephen Meachem);
  • Denial of internationally-protected economic and social rights (Sam Holder);
  • Judicial Decision-Making, Criminalised Women, Feminist Judocial Decision-Making, Feminist Legal Methods, and Prison Abolotion (Felicity Adams).