Insight into extraordinary breadth of critical, socio-legal research undertaken by doctoral scholars at Kent

To help illustrate the extraordinary breadth of critical, socio-legal research being undertaken by doctoral scholars at Kent, we asked our PhD students to summarise the focus of their work. The thesis titles and summaries that we’ve gathered together below, offer a fascinating insight into the diverse aspects of the law our scholars choose to interrogate.

The Law School’s Co-Director of Postgraduate Research, Dr Thanos Zartaloudis, said: ‘Collecting these abstracts and re-reading them has been a joyful experience, bringing us to the realisation of how exceptionally capable our research students are and what intellectual contribution they are making with their projects to the present and future legacy of Kent Law School. At Kent we have, over the decades, developed a challenging, interdisciplinary, critical and above all collegiate and collaborative research programme that has rendered Kent Law School one of the very best places to study for a research degree, worldwide. And let me thank the students and my colleague Andrea Shieber for helping us put this collection of PhD abstracts together.’

Zainab Bakari: Access to medicines in Tanzania: Utilizing TRIPS flexibilities to promote public health

This research focuses on access to essential medicines in Tanzania, in terms of physical and geographical availability and accessibility, affordability and quality. Access to essential medicines has been a problem in Tanzania. This research aims specifically looking at the role of legal regulation in mediating access to medicines, and at how Tanzania has sought to deploy adequate responses to enhance or facilitate access.

A core (if not exclusive) focus of this analysis will be the international agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), and the flexibility it offers to its signatories, including Tanzania, in the context of public health. While research previously conducted in Africa has suggested that such flexibility was not always applied, nor useful, limited research has been conducted to date on its relevance to Tanzania. Because little is known of the everyday practice that surround intellectual property and access to medicines in Tanzania, data for this research will need to be collected empirically, from policy actors closest to the issue. An overview of experiences of countries with similar socio-economic development that have implemented or are in the implementation phase of TRIPS agreement will be carried out to assess whether and how they have improved their citizens’ access to medicines. The research will also look beyond the issue of compliance and implementation of TRIPS flexibilities (particularly if the latter is found to be inadequate) to consider feasible policies that will enhance physical and geographical availability and accessibility, affordability and quality, including the support for local pharmaceutical industries.

Farhana Begum: The experiences of Litigants in Person in the Family Court

This thesis will explore the experience of litigants in person (LIPs) in the family court system following the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). LASPO removed legal aid funding for family court proceedings in most cases, with the result that there has been a dramatic increase in LIPs in the family courts since the Act came into force in 2013, particularly in child arrangements cases. The thesis will focus on a single court, and investigate the impact of self-representation on LIPs over the course of their court journey, as well as the impact of LIPs on the court.

Timur Bocharov: Compensation for Pain and Suffering in England and Russia: a Comparative Study of Legal Cultures

My research aims to compare moral damages in Russia with pain and suffering and loss of amenity damages in England. The social contexts which shape these respective institutions provide promising material for a comparative socio-legal study. In England, there is on-going debate within the media, political circles, and academia regarding the supposed problem of a so-called ‘compensation culture’. The public is concerned the number of personal injury claims being brought is excessive, and that awards for even minor injuries are unreasonably large.

In Russia, the situation with personal injury damages is the converse. It is the absence of a developed compensation culture and the apparently low value of human health and life that is regarded as a social problem. Therefore, there are significant differences in judicial approaches to personal injury damages and public perceptions in both countries, with awards being considered relatively generous in England, but insufficient in Russia.

These contradictions demonstrate that pain and suffering damages are deeply rooted in the cultural and historical context of Russia and England, including the attitudes and values of legal professionals and ordinary people. In order to better understand these differences, I explore how legal cultures shape compensation for pain and suffering in the two jurisdictions.

Elena Caruso: A socio-legal experience: the case of abortion in Italy

Italian abortion law was liberalised in 1978, following a prolonged feminist struggle. Since that time, however, the law seems to have been substantially “paralysed” by the exercise of conscientious objection rights of medical personnel. This means that, in practice, legal abortion is often not available. Partly for this reason, abortion has continued to be a central focus of activity for the Italian feminist movement. This thesis will explore the role of the feminist movement in shaping Italian abortion law and policy, and – conversely – the ways in which a focus on abortion law reform has shaped Italian feminism. It thus explores the connections between Italian feminism as a social movement and law reform, and between socio-political and legal change. Moving beyond an analysis of formal law, it also explores the role which Italian feminism has played, and continues to play, in making effective a right to abortion.

In drawing on forty years of experience of feminist engagement with law, the thesis will also aim to consider ways of addressing current problems with ensuring an effective right to abortion in Italy.

Beyond the immediate focus on Italy, the thesis will explore what an analysis of the peculiarly Italian feminist experience of abortion might offer to discussion of contemporary legal problems regarding abortion more generally. First, the Italian situation is indelibly marked by the influence of the Catholic church. While this dimension of abortion law and policy has been extensively discussed with regard to the Irish situation and, perhaps to a lesser extent, that of Latin America, it has been far less considered with regard to Italy. Secondly, the thesis will assess the extent to which an analysis of Italian feminism might offer insights and lessons for feminist and socio-legal studies more generally. For example, Italian feminism speaks interestingly to current debates within contemporary Anglo-American feminist socio-legal studies regarding how law and policy might respond to women’s legal needs as diverse and non-universal. Italian feminism is little translated and understood outside Italy and, indeed, is little studied even in Italy, where feminist legal studies is not an object of mainstream interest in academia. The project will also speak to a wider literature on the appropriate role of law reform within feminist campaigning, which has, thus far, been dominated by a focus on the Anglo-American experience (Smart 1989).

Siobhan Collins: Parents on the Periphery: Child Protection Law and Parents with Learning Disabilities

This thesis will seek to identify aspects of current child protection law and legal process that particularly disadvantage parent(s) with learning disabilities. This will be undertaken by a critical exploration of the emergence and development of current ideologies such as theories of individual responsibility and the post-liberal subject underpinning the current legal framework relating to parenthood and child protection. These will be contrasted with more communitarian theories of responsibility (Eckstein) and the Vulnerability Theory (Martha Fineman) in an effort to propose alternative ways to reimagine the current law on child protection to enable it to be more inclusive of this group of parents. The research will include the views of parents with learning disabilities and professionals who work with them on their experiences of the current legal system and include their voices on how the law could be reframed to empower more parents with learning disabilities to raise their own children.

Steve Crawford: A study of Constitution and Legitimacy: Influences of Protestant thinking on perceptions of the legitimacy of constitutional reform as enacted by the 1688 English Bill of Rights

This thesis argues that the 1688 English Bill of Rights enshrined in law a constitutional settlement that can be conceived as having some perceptions of its legitimacy derived from the introduction of the relationship of authority between the people and their government. The Protestant Reformation re-imagined a church structure built upon a relationship between the congregation and their spiritual authorities. The Bill of Rights might be perceived as transferring elements of this idea into the temporal political sphere, through Parliament’s claim to be representative of the People as the basis for a parliamentary constitutional model.

Foundational to the Protestant Reformation was the attack on the prevailing Papal hierarchy, and hierarchical authoritarian structure of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. This hierarchical structure was underpinned by the Papal claim to authority based upon being God’s individual representative on earth; providing unique access to divine legislative sovereignty. This in turn meant the tiered form of appointed leadership within the Catholic Church was legitimised by the extension of this hierarchical relationship, as well as by the office holders’ privileged positions as ‘connected’ to Papal authority through direct and indirect Papal appointment.

Universal among the theological principles of the Protestant reformers was the firm conviction that the authority of the Pope as voice of God, and leader of the church on earth, was a human creation and not a divine appointment. Instead, Protestant theology placed the individual at the heart of the spiritual experience. The individual believer had the capacity to engage directly with Scripture and, stemming from this, a right to a personal relationship with their God. As opposed to access filtered through layers of church bureaucracy as medieval papal doctrine required. The role of the church was not to be gatekeepers to divine wisdom and knowledge, but to better facilitate access of the laity to their deity on an individual as well as congregational level. I contend that these basic Protestant principles can be seen to act within the Bill of Rights, conveying aspects of the perception of the legitimacy of the document and allowing it to function both as a constitutional settlement to the tumultuous English seventeenth-century, and as an interrelated source of legitimacy for subsequent constitutional reform.

Gabriele D’Adda: The response of PAH – Plataforma Afectados por la Hipoteca (Platform of people affected by mortgage) to the precarisation of the right to housing: the case of Barcelona

The right to housing is granted by Article 47 of the Spanish constitution and also by several international treaties signed by Spain. Despite this constitutional right, since 2007, in Spain, hundreds of thousands of people have been evicted from their homes as a result of their inability to pay their mortgages. This “mortgage crisis” and its consequences are just one symptom of a more generalized process of precarisation of the right to housing which has emerged as a result of the financialisation and commodification of housing. My thesis focuses on PAH (Plataforma Afectados por la Hipoteca), the ‘Platform of People Affected by Mortgages’, a social movement established in 2009 in Barcelona to support, through grassroots activism, people at risk of losing their homes because of mortgage default.

Bridging the precarity and social movements’ literature, this thesis analyses, through the case study of PAH, how social movements can respond to housing precarity and its consequences. A combination of observant participation, semi-structured interviews and quantitative data analysis is used to examine how PAH developed and uses a double strategy – “Challenging the law” and “Changing the law” – to respond to housing precarity.

Hüseyin Disli: Juridical Truth: Metaphysical Closure in Modern Legal Thought

On the basis of the argument that modern law’s relation to truth is marked by the discourse of ‘metaphysical closure’, this thesis undertakes a reading of the ‘metaphysics of law’ in relation to the notion of juridical truth, through examining the relation between the ‘elimination’ of metaphysical thought in both philosophical discourse and modern legal thought.

Dibo Ebanja: What roles can and does law play in determining whether natural resources are a ‘curse’? Lessons from Chad and Zambia

This thesis critically investigates the allegations that International law and its regimes have played a role in shaping post-colonial development process in natural resources rich developing countries. In an era – post second world war – poised with international political tension, I posit that, the corrupt influence of politics on international law (rule of law) had had a great influence and somehow attenuate development process in resource rich developing countries. Based on the so-called resource curse discourse, this research critiques the perception of natural resources being a ‘curse’ and try to trace the phenomena commonly manifested as curse back in the transition from the ‘old world order system’ through law and development discourse to present date.

In a nutshell, my research also explores the importance of law as a tool in shaping and influencing societies. Its influence in the structural building of a market economy and the social consequences. Employing international taxation laws and treaties (ITLTs), and Bilateral investment treaties (BITs) as case studies of international law regimes, this paper will examine their underpinning structures with reflection on development process in two natural resource rich developing countries. Chad and Zambia – rich in Petroleum and Copper – will be explore as developing countries rich in natural resources to test this hypothesis.

Edward Fairhead: The Society of the Anti-Spectacle: The Visuality of Drone Warfare and the Legitimation of Lethal State Force

The militarised drone has become an iconic weapon of modern warfare over the past decade. The purpose of this research is to interrogate how the visual style of modern drone warfare occasioned by the advent of the unmanned aerial vehicle relates to the question of legitimacy. This thesis argues that drone visuality is different from the spectacular visuality which dominated in the late modern era. I develop the concept of the anti-spectacle to name this difference in visuality. Instead of war being transmitted as a visually spectacular mode of entertainment which invites civic attention, the anti-spectacularity of drone visuality paradoxically reveals to the spectator that there is nothing notable to see. This visual difference, and a corresponding change in spectatorship, opens up a distinct dimension of legitimacy that I name the negative space of legitimation; designating the absence of friction between state action and an indifferent affective public. This thesis develops this theoretical paradigm of the nexus between the anti-spectacle of drone warfare and negative legitimation to account for the distinctive visual style and political force of drone visuality.

Rebecca Gulbul: A critical reflection on the no-property rule in the human body and biomaterials in the context of biobanks

My research examines the ambiguity around the property status of biomaterials in the context of biobanks. This uncertainty appears to be the foundation of the asymmetry between the rights exercised by tissue donors and third parties. It has led to a dualism in biobanking where public interests exist alongside commercial ones. My thesis explores this using three main concepts: the gift, biological citizenship and temporality.​

Eleanor Jeffrey-Chaplen: Putting the Legal Cart Before the Scientific Horse

The introduction of special rules to enhance the common law test for admissibility of expert evidence represents an attempt to regulate uncertainty rather than an effective strategy to reduce the risk of wrongful convictions.

This thesis contends that the reliability test for the admission of expert evidence into criminal proceedings in England and Wales, as introduced via the Criminal Procedure Rules 2014, is not fit for purpose. By focusing on the procedure behind the reform, it will illustrate that the intense focus on ‘sufficient reliability’ by the legal community is a misinterpretation by the Law Commission of the original recommendations made by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in 2005. It will be illustrated that the reliability test was predicated on a consultation document that lacked clarity and precision and that remains unsupported by demonstrable data or evidence.

Viewed from a risk response perspective, this thesis will argue that the reform was in fact driven by the outrage surrounding a cluster of high-profile successful appeals rather than flowing from a strong evidence-based enquiry. Consequently, the new codified test will not improve on the current common law assessment and may even serve to introduce problems of interpretation leading to greater uncertainty and legal challenge.

Mateja Koltaj: Radical Experimentation: Yugoslavia, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Archive of International Law

The Cold War has conventionally been viewed through the lenses of the Great powers; a coercive standstill, with most nation-states placed on the margins of that bi-polar legal, economic, political and cultural international arrangement. This thesis examines how during the Cold War period peripheral sovereignties functioned as a tool for state-based resistance and as sites for the creation of alternative visions of the international legal order, and how domestic policies can serve as prisms to examine alternative international pasts and futures. To this end, my thesis explores the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) as an example of a critical geopolitical project and radical experimentalism through the experience of Yugoslavia. At the core of my examination is the dialectical relationship between ‘nonalignment’ – NAM’s organisational concept and Yugoslavia’s foreign policy central pillar – and Yugoslavia’s domestic policy of ‘self-management’.

I argue that self-management’s vision of a direct democracy through decentralisation was showcased abroad in nonalignment, as a way of affirming national sovereignty and as means for international cooperation, peaceful coexistence and solidarity irrespective of political, legal or socio-economic differences of any state. By problematising the principle and right of self-determination, I argue that, while the Cold War was a space-moment that permitted forms of national and international experimentation, it generated simultaneously a geopolitical context that stifled radical change. NAM’s vision of self-determination as a legal concept for independence and the generation of an egalitarian world order proved contingent on the two power-blocs’ specific understanding of it and a vehicle for advancing their own interests, and as such undermined the horizons of self-management and nonalignment. NAM’s shortcomings and achievements invite us, however, to reassess the value and significance of local-global interactions in the creation of alternative modalities of global governance.

My analysis is based on archival work conducted in the Archives of Yugoslavia in Belgrade, Serbia. Engaging with this archive as a place of struggle, I argue that it is a site to engage critically with global orders and hierarchies underpinned by international law. My findings demonstrate, the dual function of the archive: it functions as a register of both domestic and international (hi)stories, and the container of radical forms of experimentation of world formation. The way the archive is constructed and organised performs, as a result, the critical work of my thesis; it makes my critical reading possible.

By bringing the national and the international together, the archive becomes a source of an alternative analysis of history as it recognises an emancipatory potential to peripheral actors, in particular to break the supposed coherence, linearity and simplicity of the global order. The archive is a space, then, for resistance and redefinition of fixed, imposed or controlled representations of the domestic and the international order. Such approach disrupts assumed understandings of the local and the international, and of self-management and nonalignment, and invites us to problematise a proclivity to historical closures in the study of international law.

Carina Lamont: Protection of civilians jus post bellum: In search of a normative framework for effective, purposive and sustainable protection of civilians in United Nations peace operations

This research identifies a normative framework for the protection of civilians in UN peace operations. A primary focus is on the regulation of the use of force as entailed in international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL), and on the interplay between these frameworks in situations where both apply.

The research thereby contributes to the furthering of a jus post bellum framework specifically designed for the complex and legally uncertain time period between armed conflicts and peace. It is argued that the legal frameworks applicable to protection engagements (IHL and IHRL) enable different forms of protection, and contribute in distinct ways to peace and security. The identification of a dividing line between IHL and IHRL in protection engagements in transitional environments is therefore, it is submitted, key both to furthering the quest for sustainable peace and to ensuring protection that is effective, purposive and sustainable in complex transitional environments.

Allison Lindner: Localising international law: the implications for sustainable development in the lives of waste pickers in South Africa

This thesis explores what happens in a localised setting when sustainable development, an international legal concept, is translated into national laws through an empirical case study involving waste pickers in Johannesburg, South Africa. I chose South Africa as the centre of the empirical examination given that sustainable development is both enshrined as a right in the highly-regarded and progressive South African Constitution, and is the prime objective of many local laws which comprise the waste management regime.

The thesis uses an Economic Sociology of Law (ESL) approach, which considers legal life and economic life as part of wider social life; and conceptualises social life in terms of human rationalities, regimes, actions and interactions. This approach both prompts and facilitates a systemic interrogation of the interplay of the economic, legal and social dimensions of ‘sustainable development’; and of how these dimensions are manifested in the life at local level. Empirical research reveals how stakeholders interact in their experience of the waste management regime aimed at achieving sustainable development. It explains that waste pickers in Johannesburg do not benefit from improved social, economic or environmental conditions because sustainable development is ill-equipped to respond to the social dynamics that complicate its operation in South Africa. Symptomatic of this is a lack of recognition of the value of waste pickers’ work, resulting in policies that do not facilitate waste pickers’ full access to waste, and a national recycling rate which has stagnated at 10% of all recyclable materials.

Policy strategies aimed at achieving sustainable development in the South African waste management economy must address these issues in order to achieve success. This study is important for policy makers and waste pickers, and joins a handful of studies focused on the relationship between international law and the informal waste management economy.

Eric Loefflad: Popular Will and International Law: The Expansion of Capitalism, the Question of Legitimate Authority, and the Universalisation of the ?

My thesis focuses on how a liberal pluralist conception of ‘popular will’, evidenced by de facto territorial control, emerged as the justification for domestic authority under international law. Drawing on critical legal historiography the historical sociology of international relations, I show how the nexus between international law, capitalist political economy, and the modern nation-state shaped the substance and form of contemporary political consciousness. Tracing the current doctrinal understanding of popular will back to the Swiss jurist Emer de Vattel’s 1758 treatise The Law of Nations, I examine the material influence of its proclamations and presumptions through interconnected case studies of the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the formation of the European states-system, and the independence of Latin America. I argue that the legacies of these meta-events consolidated to form the UN system thus entrenching the contestable, but nevertheless durable, understanding of popular will that exists at the heart of today’s international legal doctrine.

Raul Madden: A Dignity Theory of Equity: Conferring Dignity on the Law, Compelling it from, and Upholding it for, the Wrongdoer and the Wronged

This thesis examines the relationship between the concept of dignity and the body of law called Equity in common law jurisdictions. It will contend that dignity theory explains something about Equity that existing theories of Equity leave untouched. Identifying three strands of dignity that Equity promotes – relating to the law, the conduct of, and the respect owed to, parties who come before it – with reference to Equity’s underpinning values, its doctrines, and its remedies, this project will establish that the notion of dignity is inextricable from its jurisprudential separateness and uniqueness.

Christos Marneros: Human Rights After Deleuze: Towards a Jurisprudence of a Becoming-Human

This thesis takes as its point of departure Gilles Deleuze’s critical remarks on human rights and it aims to draw a link between his critique and his broader philosophical thought. In particular, by examining Deleuzian notions such as those of ‘immanence,’ ‘ethics,’ ‘becoming’ and ‘jurisprudence,’ the thesis aims to offer a potentiality of (re)thinking about human rights and theorising differently beyond the current human rights framework.

Ahmed Memon: Networks, Governance, Violence: Towards a new sociology of international law

In my project I explain international law as a body of knowledge that is produced and facilitated by transboundary social actors and institutions that I refer to as network organisations. These network organisations are driven by ideological imperatives that may be defined by religious, secular, political or economic views that shape core international legal principles; specifically sovereignty and separation between war and peace. My claim is that these network organisations are deeply embedded within the history of international law as co-producers and benefactors of the body of knowledge generated in the discipline of international law within their historical contexts.

These network organisations can be seen in different forms through history, implementing, benefiting and legitimising their role in the production of knowledge that shapes international legal rules, through imperial governance.The imperial governance of these network organisations is inherently violent in nature as it relies on administrative, economic and regulatory means of policing and controlling populations. However, an orthodox reading of international law and its history which solely justifies itself as ‘territorially bounded state based rules of war and peace’ renders other forms of violence that are part of the governance of network organisations invisible and unaccountable. My project highlights this hidden operation of international law through governance of transboundary social actors and institutions by sketching a sociological history of network institutions, their governance and the violence that is inherent in such governance.

Moritz Neugebauer: Lawyers and agency working: the role of legal practices in shaping atypical work arrangements

My research explores how the encounter between labour law and agency-mediated work in the UK has unfolded on the levels of legal doctrine, business practices and the wider socio-political context since the 1970s. To do so, I draw on case law and doctrinal commentary, semi-structured interviews with legal practitioners, recruitment professionals and trade union officers and the documents produced in the context of recent government consultations and inquiries.

I seek to bring a greater historical awareness to current debates over the ‘crisis of labour law’ and the ‘future of work’, which have tended to foreground trends occurring over relatively short time spans, while at the same time engaging with resurgent attempts at conceptualising law on its own terms rather than in relation to its (economic, ethical, etc) context.

Maayan Niezna: What is the impact of different legal frameworks addressing ‘unfree labour’ of migrant workers; can a ‘labour approach’ better explain and address this phenomenon

My research project interrogates different legal frameworks addressing ‘unfree labour’ of migrant workers; it asks whether a ‘labour approach’ that focuses on structural causes for vulnerability can better explain, and then help us to resolve, this phenomenon of economic exploitation. I address two aspects of this question – the conceptual and the contextual. The conceptual part asks whether the legal terms describing unfree labour can be applied in a meaningful and consistent way in the context of temporary low-skilled migrant workers, and if so, under what conditions. The Contextual discussion follows, and is based on qualitative empirical research focused on Israel. It identifies specific initiatives, programmes or policies which can be said to reflect a labour approach, and assesses their short- and long-term impact.

Judith Onwubiko: The continuity of slavery: An examination of the Law’s failure to address indigenous forms of slavery in Southeastern Nigeria

In precolonial southeastern Nigeria, indigenous slavery practices existed in various forms including osu, ohu and igba-egbe. Although the extent of their prevalence is yet unknown, some of these indigenous forms of slavery continue to exist in modern southeastern Nigeria. Local NGOs and news reports have shown how various individuals have been disadvantaged and exploited due to their status as slaves under indigenous legal systems. Due to the pluralistic nature of the Nigerian legal system, the situation of these so-called ‘indigenous slaves’ are easily overlooked by the legal frameworks abolishing slavery in Nigeria.

The aim of this thesis is to examine why each of these legal systems fail to effectively address indigenous forms of slavery in southeastern Nigeria, and to identify factors which need to be taken into account to enable the abolition of indigenous forms of slavery. I argue that the legal abolition project in Nigeria has been significantly influenced by international initiatives which are often ignorant or insensitive to local issues of slavery in non-western states, but are more concerned about promoting and protecting the economic and political interests of powerful western states. As a result, the Nigerian anti-slavery regime has adopted anti-slavery strategies which fail to effectively address indigenous forms of slavery in southeastern Nigeria.

Elena Paris: International law and the post-foundational challenge: theologies of legal universalis

​International law is complicit in the hegemonic manoeuvre by which a few define and appropriate the meaning of its concepts (like state, territory, jurisdiction, democracy, citizenship, justice), and claim that the meaning so obtained is firmly grounded in reason, hence universal. Those on whom such “universals” are imposed are not allowed a say about alternative ways of relating to the realities depicted by those concepts, and international law lends its ceremonial power to impose a preferred meaning upon the world at large through legal, political, economic, physical violence.

The origins of this foundational way of thinking are in Western metaphysics, which prompted a specific epistemology of autonomous reason and an atomistic ontology. This particular metaphysics wants us to imagine the universal as something located outside society and politics, as already a priori established, that we should merely acknowledge, rather than question, and endowed with a legal authority pre-emptively immune to revision. Based on such foundational premises, international law functions in a way which is detrimental to the political agency of the subjects from whose consent it takes authority. Their voice and participation in international law-making is subsumed to obeying those immutable principles. The post-modern critique of this foundationalism originated within the Western paradigm itself produced a differential epistemology and ontology, in which both the concept and the subject are defined through how they differ from the world of concepts and, respectively, subjects around them. This thesis claims that this differential approach actually reinforces the exclusionary dynamic of modern international law, and the way in which international community is conceived.

Eastern Christian metaphysics offers an alternative account, yet unexplored, which maintains that both how we know and how the subject is constituted is not differential, but referential, that is, centred on the dynamics of relationality. Crucially, this alternative account points at a difference at the level of the degree of participation in decision-making in general, relevant also for the quality of participation in international law-making in particular. Moreover, it requires a new conception of community against the exclusionary dynamic of international community formation deriving both from the old (modern) drive to sameness, and from the differential way in which the post-modern subject understands its relationships with her others. I draw on this alternative, relational, metaphysics, as a possible support for re-thinking international law as a medium that sustains a democratic realm of international decision-making.

Jessica Smith: The ‘storied place’ of state documentation: A spatial study of birth registration at the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge

My interdisciplinary project responds to recent calls within socio-legal studies for deeper reflection on the state’s documentation of births. Despite significant change to social relationships, the legislative framework has seen little amendment since the establishment of civil registration and fails to address diverse experiences of kinship or personal identity. In responding to these calls, this thesis offers a different approach. Moving beyond the details recorded on the certificate, I draw insights from a case study conducted at the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge (Canterbury, UK): a museum, gallery, library, café, community exhibition space, tourist information point and registration hub. This thesis locates imaginative potential in the Beaney’s ‘tessellating’ spaces and develops a methodology which engages with the collections to think creatively about registration. In doing so, my thesis identifies a novel site from which to explore the state’s documentation of births and illustrates the ‘spatial politics’ which may otherwise go unnoticed.

Mia Tamarin: Transboundary water conflict and pacification in Palestine/Israel: the process of water commodification and the dispossession of land and livelihoods

My research engages critically with alarmist scholarship that argues that water conflicts pose threats to international security. In contrast to current theories of “water peace” and “water war”, and also in conversation with Virtual Water scholarship that argues that what we are witnessing is best understood via trade relations, I suggest that the ways in which water scholars and practitioners conceptualise water itself – as a commodity – necessarily have effects on how water is being managed and shared. Accordingly, I analyse the process of, what I call water commodification and how this process attends to the particularities of water. This thesis maintains a theoretical approach inspired by Marxist international legal scholarship and drawing on political ecology theories, whilst deploying socio-legal research methods using the Palestine/Israel case study. This methodology enables me to simultaneously focus on the legal-discursive and material dimensions of commodification. Observing water use within the agricultural sector in particular, I identify two manifestations of this commodification of water emerging from my fieldwork within the specific landscape of Palestine/Israel, namely, the dispossession of land and of livelihoods. Ultimately, this thesis argues, commodification leads to a violent pacification of water conflicts.

Joséphine Uwineza: Intermediaries, In-Between Spaces and the International Criminal Court –Uncovering New Sites for Opportunity and Challenge

Approaches to the practice of international criminal justice have largely focused on the relationship between institutions and states. This has overlooked the role of other actors, such as intermediaries. This thesis examines the role of intermediaries in international criminal justice with a particular focus on their place at the ICC. Through this examination it argues/shows that international criminal justice also takes place in in-between spaces. The central insight of the thesis is that in-between spaces are productive of particular forms of international criminal law practices. These in-between spaces are not captured in dominant international criminal law literature and they are hardly capable of regulation. Furthermore, much of the literature on intermediaries overlooks the existence of these practices because it tends to study the relationship between intermediaries and the international criminal court (ICC/the Court) through global/local lenses.

The thesis develops the concept of in-between spaces, both analytically and empirically, to illuminate these practices of international criminal justice to which intermediaries give rise. To that end, I argue that existing conceptualisations of intermediaries as in-between agents through whom the Court extends its work on the ground is unhelpful. Rather, the thesis conceives intermediaries as mediators of the Court’s work in in-between spaces which opens up new conversations about the way in which knowledge is produced, subjects are represented and power is exerted in these in-between spaces in which intermediaries occupy. Next, the thesis discusses the question of security. I argue that the Court is unable to fully protect intermediaries in in-between spaces. Therefore, it should partner with other stakeholders. Lastly, this research discusses the issue of accountability. This thesis argues that intermediaries’ accountability is complex because in-between spaces produce different accountability registers. While the Court captures a small fraction of intermediaries’ accountability, intermediaries are accountable to other actors such as donors and states. What is more, the current framework of accountability does not provide for the Court’s accountability toward intermediaries.

The thesis concludes that the ICC should enhance its partnership with intermediaries and change some of the ways in which it currently relates to them because in-between spaces are productive of a new kind of practice of international criminal justice which is not captured by existing literature and law. Despite the challenges that such engagement may bring, intermediaries are indispensable to the Court’s work on the ground.

Tracey Varnava: Narratives of homelessness: an examination of local governance in Canterbury

My PhD research is on the governance of street homelessness. The research focuses on Canterbury as the site of study as a means of creating space to move beyond the ideological to look in detail at the governance of homelessness at the local level. My research seeks to interrogate the way in which homelessness is currently conceived and addressed, suggesting that context is fundamental to shaping decision-making and ultimately outcomes. Specifically, my work questions the prevailing trend in much of the literature to depict cities as disciplinary in their responses to street homelessness and seeks to make space for other stories to be written.

Richard Warren: A Critical History of the Immigration Tribunal

This thesis concerns the role of the immigration tribunal in mediating the claims to remain of long-resident non-nationals with contested immigration status. An immigration tribunal creates a public forum in which a long resident non-national and those supporting him often seek to contest that person’s official construction as someone who does not belong to a community in the UK. Whilst the tribunal provides a forum for alternative narratives to be put forward, at the same time it is arguable that in utilising the restrictive language and structure of the law, an immigration appeal provides a space where such narratives are neutralised and ultimately subjugated beneath that of the state.

Immigration tribunals have emerged at specific times in UK history and have often been introduced in parallel to restrictive legislation in order to create the impression that executive action is not arbitrary. They have always led to tension between the different departments of government and been unpopular with the executive branch but at certain periods it has been expedient for the government to make use of them.

Recent developments to restrict the appeal rights of non-nationals can be understood as the executive attempting to reclaim power over immigration decision making. A consequence is to create more precarious classes of non-nationals resident in the UK unable to develop a secure sense of belonging. However, it is hypothesised that as the controlled legal forum for contesting the right to belong is removed, debates over what it means to belong in the UK will emerge in more political ways.

Tristan Webb: The meaning and significance in international law of the principle of non-intervention

This thesis is a doctrinal study of the principle of non-intervention (PONI) in international law. Accordingly, the study follows Article 38(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by reviewing PONI’s place in treaty law, customary international law, ‘general principles of law recognised by civilised nations’, and judgments of the ICJ; it also considers the meaning and status of PONI as an a priori universal (and on this point, in the spirit of Article 9, identifies commonalities in classical philosophical thought in Europe and East Asia regarding principles and order).

The research shows how (and speculates why) UK discourse has, in recent generations particularly, been confused by the legal meaning and significance of PONI. It concludes with comments not only on the relationship between that confusion and UK foreign policy, but also on the implications for humanity of PONI and its sibling principles as we face the existential crises of successive anthropogenic catastrophes.

Chen Yang: The Regulation of Online Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending: A Comparative Study in the UK and China

Over the last decade, P2P lending has emerged in markets of most countries and experienced a high-speed growth in the wake of the progress of internet technology and fintech. The objective of this study is to generate new insights about the design and evaluation of P2P lending regulation regimes of today, by undertaking a comparative study of the P2P lending regulation of the two leading P2P lending markets, the UK and China.