Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research

Forthcoming events

Rights Research Series

The Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research Seminar Series includes a range of events, including external speakers, work in progress seminars, brainstorming sessions, and doctoral debates.

Spring 2021 Rights Research Series

Tuesday 22 June 2021,  A 'right to nutrition' in its social, legal and political context: how international rights translate to Zambian realities

Date: Tuesday 22 June 2021

Time: 12:00 to 13:00 UK time

Speakers: Jody Harris, Institute of Development Studies; and Ruth Stirton, University of Sussex Law School. (See bios below)


Among approaches to addressing malnutrition, the language of human rights is notably present in international nutrition discourse and national policy and covenants, but the conceptualisation, implications and utility of human rights for nutrition practice are contested. This seminar will present research exploring how the utility of a ‘right to nutrition’ is perceived by different actors – across policy, legal and development sectors; and global, national and local levels, with a focus on Zambia – and how differences in interpretation of rights affect their potential for reducing malnutrition. 

Speaker bios

Jody Harris is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies with a research interest in the politics and ethics of food systems and nutrition policy. She conducts research into power in societies, power in policy processes, and power in international nutrition and food systems, as well as the ethics of intervention into these spaces.

Ruth Stirton is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex Law School, approaching legal research in light of social and political context and exploring the gap between law and policy as written and the way in which it is implemented on the ground, as well as the limits of the law.

Register here

Wednesday 16th June 2021, European Citizenship: the Long Roads to Inclusion

Date: Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Time: 1-2pm UK time

Speaker: Dr Julia Bradshaw, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University (see bio below)


This presentation will focus on a book proposal that is currently in progress. The monograph is based on my PhD thesis, which was completed in 2012 under a similar title, but which she is revising and updating. The book focuses on citizenship in Europe: ‘Europe’ here is broadly defined, temporally, geographically and politically. It explores themes of identity and belonging, examining models of citizenship from across European history and territory to determine how a modern understanding of the scope and nature of citizenship has been arrived at. It explores the origins and development of supranational citizenship in the Europe, beginning with Jean Monnet’s involvement in the Franco-British joint citizenship during World War II and then in the creation of the ECSC/EEC, particularly focussing on the role of the ECJ in expanding the scope of rights and protections that pre-EU citizens enjoyed, before turning to the creation of a formal supranational entity and what it really means. Where there are strengths, there are also weaknesses inherent in the supranational model: here, Jules considers its inability to determine the scope of membership and extension of rights autonomously (here she considers the significant problems faced by the stateless in Europe and, inevitably, the consequences of Brexit). Jules' aim in this presentation is to explore the scope of the monograph, particularly its final chapter(s), where - both outlining and in response to the shortcomings outlined above - she will endeavour to propose a new (theoretical, rather than practical) model of citizenship that is more flexible, inclusive and rights-giving than the current European conception: this element of the monograph remains at a rough stage and she would welcome thoughts and feedback to help her to solidify her ideas.

Speaker Bio:

Julia Bradshaw is a Senior lecturer in Public and European Law at Liverpool John Moores University. Her research areas principally lie in the fields of citizenship, Statelessness, identity and belonging and she tends to approach her work from a historical and Arendtian philosophical basis. Julia has published on these issues and is looking to expand her research to consider citizenship modelling and developing rights/legal identity access for the stateless.

Wednesday 9 June 2021, Ecologies of Remembrance: Situating the Afterlives of Migrant Dead at Sea in Italy ( 1997- 2019)

Date: Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Time: 1-2pm

Speaker: Professor Vanessa Grotti
Ecologies of Remembrance: Situating the Afterlives of Migrant Dead at Sea in Italy (1997-2019)


This presentation is based on data I collected in collaboration with Naor Ben-Yehoyada (Anthropology, Columbia University) and Marc Brightman (Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna) for a small, multi-sited ethnographic research project funded by the Wenner-Gren foundation which started in 2018 and will end later this year. Our aim is to analyse anthropologically the maritime, forensic and mortuary practices (performed at sea and on land) linked to the material, social and ritual management of unidentified migrant human remains in Italy. I will introduce the regional migration context, and the reasons why focusing on the receiving, ‘host’ country raises interesting questions for anthropology of kinship, death and materiality. I will then present the specific maritime tragedies which frame the project (with a specific focus on my field research in southern Italy and Albania) and how they are connected, before reflecting on how these different fields converge and participate in contemporary regional and national processes of memorialisation and patrimonialisation in the Mediterranean.


I am Associate Professor in Anthropology at the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Bologna (Ravenna Campus). I am a social and medical anthropologist, Principal Investigator of an ERC-funded project entitled EU Border Care (2015-2021) which examines migration, maternity care and reproductive health in European borderlands. Together with Marc Brightman (Unibo) and Naor Ben-Yehoyada (Columbia University) I am also co-investigator on a collaborative project which studies migrant death, mourning and memorialisation in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation , ‘Ecologies of Remembrance: The Moral Afterlives of Migrant Human Remains Along the Central Mediterranean Route’ (2018-2021). I have been conducting long-term ethnographic fieldwork in northeastern Amazonia since 2002 and in the Mediterranean since 2015. I have published on medicine and colonialism, kinship and gender, personhood, animism and material culture, migration and borderlands, and history and memorialisation.

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 979 8108 6809

Passcode: 084993

Wednesday 28 April 2021, Questioning legal personhood in the Common European Asylum System

Date: Wednesday 28 April 2021

Time: 12:00 to 13:00

Questioning legal personhood in the Common European Asylum System

Speaker: Dr Samantha Velluti


Using the lens of asylum, the paper questions orthodox understandings of ‘legal personhood’ - a conceptual scheme deeply embedded in Western legal thought. The status of person in law is granted to beings designated by the law as ‘right-holders’ even though in certain circumstances those same persons become ‘objects of rights’ or ‘objects of obligations’ held by other persons in law. However, being merely an object of rights or duties ascribed to others does not (or should not) qualify (the moral worth of) a person or entity as such. Legal personhood conceived in this way is thus problematic for a number of reasons, asylum being a case in point. The paper looks at the role of law and, in particular, at how legal constructions of personhood create hierarchies of legal personality setting the grounds for the exploitation of vulnerable groups and individuals in society.

The paper seeks to develop a new understanding of legal personhood using human dignity as the interface between legal personhood and human rights in order to address the dual-faceted and opposing reality of asylum-seekers in relation to their ‘equality’ as humans in the order of nature and their ‘inequality’ within the social/political order of Europe, where they are subjected to a constant process of de-personification and reification. This revisited notion of legal personhood not only seeks to remove the debasement and dehumanization that characterizes European Union (EU) asylum law and policy but also intends to address the Common European Asylum System’s (CEAS) failure to constitute a valid platform for translating its own self-proclaimed commitment to human rights into justiciable normative claims.

Wednesday 21 April 2021, Why was the U.S. ban on female genital mutilation ruled unconstitutional and what does this have to do with male circumcision? 

Date: Wednesday 21 April 2021

Time: 3pm to 4pm

Brian D. Earp

Why Was the U.S. Ban on Female Genital Mutilation Ruled Unconstitutional, and What Does This Have to Do With Male Circumcision?


There are now legally prohibited forms of medically unnecessary female genital cutting—including the so-called ritual nick—that are less severe than permitted forms of medically unnecessary male and intersex genital cutting. Attempts to discursively quarantine the male and female forms of cutting (MGC, FGC) from one another based on appeals to health outcomes, symbolic meanings, and religious versus cultural status have been undermined by a large body of recent scholarship. Recognizing that a zero-tolerance policy toward ritual FGC may lead to restrictions on ritual MGC, prominent defenders of the latter practice have begun to argue that what they regard as “minor” forms of ritual FGC should in fact be seen as morally permissible—even when non-consensual—and should be legally allowed in Western societies. In a striking development in late 2018, a federal judge ruled that the longstanding U.S. law prohibiting “female genital mutilation” (FGM) was unconstitutional on federalist grounds, while separately acknowledging the logical relevance of arguments concerning non-discrimination on the basis of sex or gender. In light of such developments, feminist scholars and advocates of children’s rights now increasingly argue that efforts to protect girls from non-consensual FGC must be rooted in a sex and gender-neutral (that is, human) right to bodily integrity, if these efforts are to be successful in the long-run.

Short bio: 

Brian D. Earp works at the Departments of Philosophy and Psychology, Yale University. He is an Associate Director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics & Health Policy, and a Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford. He has recently published the book ‘Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships’, available from Stanford University Press and Manchester University Press

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 928 4264 7567

Passcode: 379870

Wednesday, 17 March 2021, 1-2pm Dr Ruvi Ziegler, Political rights of 'aliens' under the ECHR 

Date: Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Time: 1-2pm 

Political rights of 'aliens' under the ECHR 

Dr Ruvi Ziegler 


In a forthcoming chapter (Brill, 2021), I consider challenges related to restrictions on the exercise of political rights by non-citizens under the ECHR. The chapter sheds contemporary light on the peculiarities of Article 16 (arguing that it has fallen into desuetude); queries the appropriate role of supranational scrutiny and standard setting in this area; and appraises the extent to which political communication rights (Articles 10, 11 of the ECHR) is - or should be - aligned with political participation rights (the right to vote in Article 3 of Protocol 1).

Short bio:

Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler is Associate Professor in International Refugee Law at the University of Reading, School of Law, where he is the Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes and co-Chair of the LGBT+ staff network. Ruvi is an Associate Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple; Research Associate of the Refuge Studies Centre, University of Oxford; Editor of the Reporter and Co-convenor of the Migration and Asylum Section of the Society of Legal Scholars; Senior Research Associate of the Refugee Law Initiative (Institute for Advance Legal Study, University of London) and Editor-in-Chief of its Working Paper Series. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Ruvi's public engagements include serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees of New Europeans Association UK; Chair of the Oxford European Association; A Britain in Europe academic expert; and an advisory council member of Rene Cassin.  Previously, Ruvi was a visiting researcher at Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic and with the Human Rights Program; and a Tutor in Public International Law at Oxford.  Ruvi is the author of Voting Rights of Refugees (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Ruvi's areas of research interest include International Refugee Law, Electoral Rights and citizenship, Comparative Constitutional Law, and International Humanitarian Law. Ruvi holds DPhil, MPhil, and BCL degrees from Oxford University. For more information see: Follow Ruvi on twitter @ruviz   

 Zoom link

Meeting ID: 972 4134 7451

Passcode: 992283