Carys holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Leeds and an MA in Communication for Development, from Malmo University, Sweden. Prior to starting her PhD she held various roles in the NGO sector in Bolivia and the UK.

  • Keele Graduate Teaching Assistantship, £13,590 pa, plus fees – 2011-2014
  • Santander Keele Scholarship for research in Latin America - £5000, 2012


Further information

  • Member of the Political Studies Association

Research Project Summary

The use of a-legal spaces to affect social and political change

My doctoral project explores the use of ‘a-legal space’ as a strategy to achieve social and political change. A-legal space refers to the space created by initiatives which assume a quasi-legal or quasi-institutional form without an official basis or where they exceed their recognised institutional basis. Peoples’ tribunals and commissions, popular referendums and civil society audits, amongst other initiatives, are examples of this phenomenon.

The project focuses on two case studies from Latin America. The first is a popular non-binding recall referendum which took place in Venezuela in 1992 against the then President, Carlos Andrés Pérez. The second is the World Tribunal on Climate Justice, a peoples' tribunal which held hearings in 2009, in Bolivia. Drawing on empirical research into these cases the project explores how a-legal space has been used by actors as a way to imagine and legitimise a counter-hegemonic order.

Selected Publications/Conference Papers

  • Hughes, C. 2011, 'The International Tribunal on Climate Justice: cultural meanings and social change', Glocal Times, Issue 16. Available here.
  • Díaz Vidaurre, M. & Hughes, C. 2011. Madre Tierra y Estado Plurinacional: análisis sobre la construcción, contenidos y viabilidad de la Ley de la Madre Tierra. [The Mother Earth and the Plurinational State: an analysis of the construction, contents and viability of the Mother Earth Rights Law] Report for CEJIS: La Paz. Available here.

Conference papers

  • “A-legal space as a mode of counter-hegemonic resistance: Venezuela’s popular referendum against President Pérez”. Paper prepared for the Critical Legal Conference, Brighton, 4th – 6th September 2014.
  • “The use of a-legal spaces to affect social and political change”. Paper prepared for the Political Studies Association 64th Annual International Conference, Manchester, 14th – 16th April 2014.
  • “The use of a-legal space to affect social and political change. Towards a typology of a-legal space”. Paper prepared for the Political Studies Association Annual Graduate Network Conference, Oxford, 12th December 2013.
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