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. 

Cluster leads: Awol Allo and Eliza Varney

Cluster overview

Building on the Law School's longstanding reputation for progressive approaches to social and legal change and excellence in socio-legal research, SJHR members apply a range of doctrinal, empirical and theoretical methodologies to diverse legal settings raising issues of social justice and human rights. Drawing from critical, feminist, queer, Marxist, materialist, postmodern and post-structural theories, alongside moral and political philosophy, SJHR scholars engage with the law as both productive of injustice and as a possible site of resistance.

The research expertise and interests of SJHR members are wide-ranging but current research themes include:

  • access to justice
  • contract theory and human rights
  • disability equality
  • distributive justice and resource allocation
  • human rights theory and practice
  • human trafficking
  • law and bioethics
  • law and religion
  • law in historical context
  • LGBT rights
  • neurodiversity
  • penal governance
  • political trials
  • professional engagement with vulnerable and marginalised groups
  • refugee law
  • social media
  • the criminal law and human rights

Our researchers have a proud track record of knowledge exchange and engagement with various stakeholders at the local, national and international level. Some recent examples include:

Research events include:

  • Professor Anna Lawson (Leeds University): ‘Disability Rights and Disability Critique: Key Challenges for Legal Scholarship and Practice’, 25 March 2022 (event co-hosted with the LLM in Law and Society).
  • Dr. Ronagh McQuigg (Queen’s University Belfast): ‘The Evolving Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on Domestic Abuse’, 3 March 2022.
  • Dr. Sharon Thomson (Cardiff University): ‘Feminist Legal History and the Case of Divorce’, Guest Talk: SJHR International Women’s Day, 12 March 2021. Video recording available at:

Examples of research events organised by the research cluster members include:

  • Flick Adams and Fabienne Emmerich are the co-founders and co-facilitators of their new abolition feminist web platform, Read and Resist, a collective and collaborative forum bringing together a host of community, activist, and academic voices on all things Transformative Justice. As part of their web platform, they hold a monthly open digital reading group (Read and Resist), a blog (Write and Resist), and they have a podcast (Listen and Resist) and a YouTube Channel (Watch and Resist) both in their early stages. During Semester 1 of the academic year in 2020, Flick and Fabienne convened reading group sessions centring on Joy, Care Love and Resistance and the “Post-Covid” recovery, “Walking While Trans”, and Claudia Jones. Events include 13th January 2021: reading group session entitled: Black Lives Matter: Abolition Now! Flick and Fabienne welcome submissions to the platform in all mediums. Please visit Read and Resist to find out more about how you can get involved! You can also follow Read and Resist on Twitter and Instagram too.
  • Jonathan Hughes co-organised the Ethics of Disordering (one-day workshop) in June 2016.
  • Abi Pearson organised a KISI funded roundtable event in April 2020, including colleagues from Leeds University and Keele, Caudwell Children, Art Research Together to discuss the potential value of creating an online space to enable people with disabilities, families, supporters and allies to share their experiences of living with disability to increase representation in legal and policy discourse.
  • Anthony Wrigley was the lead organiser for a one day, multi-disciplinary conference at Keele (on the 24th of September 2018), supported by KISI and the Royal Institute of Philosophy: ‘What is the role of Compassion in Decision-Making when working with Vulnerable and Marginalised people’.

SJHR - International Women’s Day - Guest Speaker - Dr Sharon Thompson- 12 March 2021