July 2020: Research round-up including socio-legal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

Expert, critical analysis of socio-legal issues in the time of COVID-19 from Kent Law School academics plus all the latest news of their research

July 2020

Socio-legal insights in the time of COVID-19:

  • COVID-19 – Making-Unmaking-Remaking Home in Lockdown Margate: Professor Helen Carr is a co-investigator (together with Professor Karen Jones from Kent’s School of History) for this research project funded by a British Academy Special Research Grant. Phd scholar Tracey Varnava is the team’s research assistant. The project runs from July 2020 until October 2021 and is led by Dr Ambose Gillick from Kent’s School of Architecture and Planning
  • El rol del derecho internacional en tiempos de pandemia (The role of international law in times of pandemic): In this talk, hosted by the Faculty of Legal Sciences of the Universidad del Azuay, Dr Luis Eslava shares his critical perspective of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Who cares? Reinventing adult social care: Insourcing and restoring the public good: Professor Lydia Hayes joined the panel for the launch of a report on insourcing social care hosted by Unison North West. Professor Hayes spoke about the regulation of social care and addressed the relationship of care quality to the quality of care workers jobs. The online event was organised as part of Unison North West’s ‘Care workers vs COVID-19’ campaign.
  • Under Control: Palestinian Workers in Israel During COVID-19: a post by PhD legal scholar Maayan Niezna for Oxford Faculty of Law’s “Border Criminologies” blog exploring how mobility control under COVID-19 shapes the lived experiences of Palestinian workers in Israel. Intro: The COVID-19 outbreak led to rapid transformations in the regulation of entry and living conditions of Palestinian workers in Israel, changing their situation from commuters, returning home at the end of each day or week, to de-facto seasonal workers, staying in the country for weeks or months. This post considers which aspects changed and which persisted, in order to reflect on how mobility control shapes the lived experiences of Palestinian workers.
  • Articles for Forbes by PhD legal scholar Ewelina Ochab:
    • Is The Cameroon Ceasefire Talk Nearing Amid Covid-19 Pandemic? Intro: On June 22, 2020, a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, former heads of state and human rights experts issued a join call for a ceasefire in Cameroon. The ceasefire is essential to provide space to medical professionals and to assist those in need amid Covid-19 pandemic. Cameroon has one of the highest rates of Covid-19 infection in Africa. As a result, civilians are caught between conflict and pandemic.
    • Thanking All Those Working On The Frontline To End Human Trafficking Amid Covid-19 Pandemic Intro: On July 30, the UN marks the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The annual day was established by UN General Assembly resolution, to address the “need for raising awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.” The 2020 theme for the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons focuses on the first responders to human trafficking, including those who work on identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking, and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.
  • COVID as Multiplane: Liberty, History and the Pandemic: A talk delivered by Dr Rose Parfitt for the SOMA Summer 2020 programme, Conversaciones a la Distancia: Can We Think Social Justice Again? Abstract: As the death toll rises, the monuments to imperialism are coming down. This is no coincidence. However, the powerful demands for social justice that COVID-19’s manifestly unequal impact has triggered are coming up against a very 21st Century problem. This is the problem that the language of freedom and equality used to express them funnel them directly into the trenches of the same endless, brutally superficial war of conceptual attrition. The assertion that Black Lives Matter is reprimanded on the grounds that ‘all lives matter’; lock-down measures aimed at protecting the community are undermined in defence of individual freedom; Indigenous rights are accused of encroaching on Catholic rights, and so on, and so on…until the material reality of structural injustice has been all but buried under an avalanche of formal equivalences.
  • How coronavirus caused a baby birth certificate backlog: an article by PhD scholar Jessica Smith for The Conversation. Intro: England and Wales are currently full of babies that, in the eyes of the state, do not exist. That’s due to a huge backlog in birth registrations, after councils around the country halted the process during lockdown. Birth certificates are only now beginning to be reissued.

Articles, blogs, books, chapters, grants and expert contributions:

  • Global Value Chains, Trade & Development: an online workshop organised by Professor Donatella Alessandrini and co-hosted by the IEL Collective, a network of scholars dedicated to critically evaluating the theory, practice, and impact of international economic law
  • Four top tips for turning your PhD into a book: KLS alumna Dr Serena Natile talks to current PhD legal scholar Elena Caruso about the experience of turning her Socio-legal Law PhD thesis into a monograph and offers four key points of reflection..
  • IEL Collective Conversation #8: Race and International Economic Law with Dr Kojo Koram: Dr Luis Eslava and Tara Van Ho (Essex Law & Human Rights) discuss the race-based foundation of international economic law (IEL) with Dr Koram (Birkbeck Law). They explore the connections between racism, the #GeorgeFloyd protests, the response of states to #COVID-19, and IEL.
  • States of Exception: Law, History, Theory: a new book, published by Routledge, co-edited by Dr Gian-Giacomo Fusco together with Cosmin Cercel and Simon Lavis. Dr Fusco is also the author of a chapter in the book on ‘Exception, Fiction, Performativity’. Book description: This book addresses the relevance of the state of exception for the analysis of law, while reflecting on the deeper symbolic and jurisprudential significance of the coalescence between law and force. The concept of the state of exception has become a central topos in political and legal philosophy as well as in critical theory. The theoretical apparatus of the state of exception sharply captures the uneasy relationship between law, life and politics in the contemporary global setting, while also challenging the comforting narratives that uncritically connect democracy with the tradition of the rule of law. Drawing on critical legal theory, continental jurisprudence, political philosophy and history, this book explores the genealogy of the concept of the state of exception and reflects on its legal embodiment in past and present contexts – including Weimar and Nazi Germany, contemporary Europe and Turkey. In doing so, it explores the disruptive force of the exception for legal and political thought, as it recuperates its contemporary critical potential.
  • Another Sense of the Project”: an article by Professor Emily Grabham for PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review (the Journal of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology), as part of a festschrift for the leading US legal anthropologist, Professor Carol Greenhouse (emerita, Princeton). Intro: Reflexivity in anthropological research has many shades of meaning, but I have found it useful to explore where one might find moments of reflexivity in what Carol Greenhouse has termed the “everyday realities (including crucial everyday ambiguities) of people’s lives” (Greenhouse et al. 2002, 6–7). These ambiguous realities often accompany, or translate into, ambiguities in ethnographic research. As researchers, we might experience moments of questioning, where research throws up distinct epistemologies or objects that have few obvious commonalities beyond a resonance—a hunch that something is at work or needs more work from us. When ideas simultaneously feel like they’re connected but also disjunctive, something is driving us, and the process of figuring it out is often non-linear and not strictly rational. The findings from our fieldwork are ambiguous or incommensurable, and we are left somewhere in the middle, trying to figure it all out.
  • Social Care Regulation at Work: The research project, led by Professor Lydia Hayes and comprising team members Dr Alison Tarrant and Dr Hannah Walters, features as a Case Study on the Scottish Government’s One Scotland website.
  • Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT): Dr Martin Hedemann-Robinson has submitted an article for the journal Environmental Liability on the EU’s law and policy on combating illegal logging (known as FLEGT). The article explores how the Union has developed a unique set of legal arrangements both externally in the form of voluntary partnership agreements with a range of tropical timber exporting countries as well internally in the form of regulatory controls supervising placement of timber on the internal market. The article also considers how the UK is set to remain closely aligned with these arrangements notwithstanding Brexit. Illegal logging is a long-standing phenomenon internationally, having environmental and socially deleterious consequences. In the absence of multilateral agreement on how to address this problem, the EU has sought to promote develop initiatives through FLEGT to sustain political pressure for international reform.
  • Dialogue & Debate: Black Lives Matter – Race & Justice. Watch again as expert panel members Dr Suhraiya Jivraj, Dexter Dias QC (Human Rights Lawyer) and Kerrin Wilson (Assistant Chief Constable for Lincolnshire), discuss issues of race and justice. Topics the panel explore include structural racism, the myth of ‘Race’, white privilege, racialised policing, racialised outcomes, intersectionality, unconscious bias training (and Keir Starmer). The webinar was organised as part of a ‘Dialogue and Debate’ series hosted by Cumberland Lodge.
  • The South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) Virtual Summer Conference 2020: Dr Suhraiya Jivraj joined an expert panel with Professor Heidi Mirza (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Dr Althea-Maria Rivas (SOAS) for a research practice session on ‘decolonising your research’
  • Patents as Assets: Intellectual Property Rights as Market Subjects and Objects: A chapter authored by Dr Hyo Yoon Kang for a book called Assetization: Turning Things into Assets in Technoscientific Capitalism, published by MIT Press and edited by Kean Birch and Fabian Muniesa. The book is available Open Access. Intro (to Dr Kang’s chapter): Patents occupy a hybrid node in the entanglement of science, technology, and finance within capitalist economy and law. A patent, an intellectual property right creating a monopoly of twenty years, contains different proprietary modes in which an invention’s potential may be materialized in social relations: via appropriation, possession, commodification, and assetization. These modes may not necessarily always overlap. This chapter describes and problematizes a specific turn to assetization that patents have taken: the transfiguration of patents into speculative financial assets. In light of the scholarship about the marketization and financialization of sciences (Nelkin 1984; Mirowski 2011; Birch 2017) and cultural studies of capitalization processes (Muniesa et al. 2017), I extend the question of patent value (Kang 2015) to examine the practices and mechanisms of valuation by which patents—legal property rights—are transformed into assets. I delineate the different ways in which patents are valued and acted upon as financial assets, which are premised on layers of legal and financial abstraction. Whereas it is well known that patents commodify, alienate, and eclipse their original referents—the inventions (Strathern 1999)—the analysis here shows that patents are enacted as real options in valuation practices and have been used as instruments of financial hedging. As a result, I argue that law itself is turned into a speculative financial asset.
  • Big Saturday Read: a blog by Dr Alex Magaisa
    • Zimbabwe – From Militarism to Constitutionalism: Intro: This week, I participated in a Zoom Policy Dialogue Forum organised by SAPES, the Harare-based think-tank led by Dr Ibbo Mandaza. The dialogue was moderated by journalist Violet Gonda. My brief was to lead a discussion on constitutionalism and the military. It was a fascinating conversation in which former Minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo and human rights defender Jestina Mukoko also participated.
    • What’s in a Name? Intro: Zimbabwe has had its fair share of political absurdities but the current year is serving a bizarre and perplexing menu. To appreciate the absurdities of what’s going on in Zimbabwe’s opposition, one must take a brief historical tour of events and circumstances leading to the present day.
    • Shutting the stock market & mobile money platforms: Intro: On 26 June 2020, the Goverment of Zimbabwe shut down the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and banned mobile money payment system. The decree was issued by the Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana. This statement sent shockwaves across the country and beyond, especially as it came from the political arm of the government, rather than from the usual traditional economic sphere.
    • Why targeting EcoCash and mobile money is misplaced: Intro: Most countries will go out of their way to defend and protect their biggest companies. They support and encourage them as they go out to invest and occupy in foreign countries. They do so not only for sentimental reasons because these companies are national flag carriers but also because such investments yield dividends to the country.
    • Why is ZANU PF so scared of the markets? Intro: When President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over following the coup in November 2017, he presented himself as a business-friendly leader. “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” became the main slogan of the new regime. If it was not calling itself the “Second Republic”, it was selling the idea that it was the “New Dispensation”. However, the regime’s conduct could not be more removed from its rhetoric. The anti-business stance has taken a turn for the worse in recent months.
    • BSR EXCLUSIVE: Beneficiaries of the RBZ Farm Mechanisation Scheme. Intro: In 2007/08 the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe ran a scheme which was ostensibly designed to support commercial agriculture. At the time, Zimbabwe was undergoing a major land revolution, with significant changes in land ownership under the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP).
  • Revisiting the Farm Mechanisation Programme of 2007/8: Dr Alex Magaisa debated with Dr Gideon Gono (Former Reserve Bank Governor) live on ZTN (Zimpapers Television Network) in a show moderated by Chris Mugaga (CEO of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce) on Thursday 23 July
  • The ‘Modern Slaves’ were forgotten in the Trafficking in Persons data: an op-ed by PhD legal scholar Maayan Niezna concerning the recent Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, and the lack of enforcement and attention to labour exploitation. (The website is one of a small number of major online news outlets in Hebrew)
  • Articles for Forbes by PhD legal scholar Ewelina Ochab:
    • Could The International Criminal Court Investigate Atrocities Against The Uighur Muslims In China?  Intro: Over the recent years, several news outlets reported on the dire situation of the Uighur Muslims in China who were being detained for re-education purposes. This was followed by in-depth research suggesting that the religious minority communities are subjected to modern day slavery and women are subjected to forced sterilization. Despite these severe allegations that point towards mass atrocities, as genocide or crimes against humanity, the international community has done little to ensure that the alleged atrocities are investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. International bodies, such as the United Nations, have been greatly silent, with a few meaningless statements that do not follow with decisive actions to change the fate of the targeted communities.
    • Is China Preventing Births Among Persecuted Uighur Muslim Minority Communities? Intro: On June 29, 2020, a report published by China expert Adrian Zenz added yet another layer to the atrocities allegedly perpetrated by the Chinese government against the Uighur Muslim minority communities in Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The report suggests that Uighur Muslims women have been subjected to forced sterilization that significantly affected births within the persecuted minority group.
    • A Human Rights Body Calls Upon States To Take Legal Actions Against China For Its Atrocities Against Uighur Muslims Intro: On July 22, 2020, the Bar Human Rights Committee, international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales, published a briefing paper “Responsibility of States under International Law to Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, China” mapping the avenues for legal recourse for states to undertake to bring those responsible to justice.
  • Geospatial Sciences and Space Law: Legal Aspects of Earth Observation, Remote Sensing and Geoscientific Ground Investigations in Africa: An article by Dr Gbenga Oduntan for the journal, Geosciences. Abstract: Geospatial sciences play crucial roles in and have effects on the socioeconomic, political and security fortunes of states. Earth observation, remote sensing and geoscientific ground investigation increasingly occupy vantage positions in the legal order of states, particularly in evidential terms and in the verification of facts under international law. How then do these aspects of space law and space sciences affect contemporary Africa and the commercial fortunes, as well as international relations among some African states? What impact do they have in relation to: (a) international boundaries disputes and demarcation activities; (b) management and the preservation of the African heritage; (c) disaster and conservation management? The paper will test the hypothesis that it is crucial for the development of the continent especially in the areas mentioned above that states should sustain and increase investment in the following areas: archaeological prospection, condition assessment of heritage assets; Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis of spatial settlement patterns in modern landscapes and assessment of natural or human-induced threats to conservation.
  • Making legal education more inclusive by design? A post by Professor Amanda Perry-Kessaris and Emily Allbon (City, University of London) for the Socio-Legal Studies Association Blog. Intro: Can design help to make legal education more inclusive? An inclusive education ecosystem is one ‘in which pedagogy, curricula and assessment are designed and delivered to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all’. This entails ‘taking account of’ and proactively ‘valuing’, difference. Calls for inclusive education originated in disabilities studies, which in turn drew on design to argue that retrospective adaptation and proactive specialisation are expensive and exclusionary. Better, they argued, to adopt a Universal Design mindset: anticipating diversity by building in flexibility so that it may be valued and included it in all its past present and future forms.
  • The Queer Outside in Law: Dr Flora Renz has contributed a chapter for The Queer Outside in Law: Recognising LGBTIQ People in the United Kingdom, edited by Senthorun Raj and Peter Dunne and due to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in December.
  • Law, Senses, and Beyond’ 2020 Roundtable: PhD scholar Jessica Smith presented a paper on ‘Senses of the sacred/secular: Exploring the imaginative realm of law and space’ for a roundtable organised by the Law and Humanities Journal. Abstract: This paper reconfigures the sacred/secular as a spatial boundary to explore the imaginative realm of law and space. In doing so, it draws from political accounts of religious geography, where the ‘sacred’ is reframed to encapsulate a deep meaning away from its explicit associations with the divine. In conversation with these literatures, the paper asks: If the scared is located not in the distant ‘beyond’, but in the connections people form with place, how might the sacred/secular be used to explore the geographies of law? The focal point for this exploration of law and space is Canterbury (UK) – a city which is steeped in its spiritual heritage. In this ‘storied place’ (Lane, 2002), religious affect is ever-present to the senses: from the spires which loom in the distance, to the rhythmic bells which ring out from the Bell Harry Tower, and the emblems of Anglican Christianity which are woven into the material infrastructure of the city. Ultimately, the paper argues that the sacred/secular offers a distinctive approach to the spatial politics of identity, belonging, and community which arise in the everyday spaces governed bylaw.
  • Terrorism financing: Dr Gavin Sullivan was invited by the The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate to talk about asset-freezing and human rights for a consultation on countering terrorist financing on Wednesday 1 July. Dr Sullivan said fair procedures for delisting are crucial to avoid mistakes that have been made and respect due process rights
  • Getting Real about Community Policing: A post by Professor Dermot Walsh for the Human Rights at Home Blog. Intro: Public reaction to the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis is forcing European countries to face up to uncomfortable truths about racism in their own police backyards. Even in those countries which pride themselves as being world leaders in community policing, racism appears to be pervasive and engrained in their police cultures and practices. Rooting it out may require radical reform of their current policing structures and concepts and an honest debate about the state of ‘community’ policing in their jurisdictions.
  • Criminal Justice Notes:a blog by Professor Dermot Walsh:
    • ‘Paedophile Hunters’ and Right to Privacy: In a decision handed down a few weeks ago, the UK Supreme Court had to consider the compatibility of the covert online activities of ‘paedophile hunters’ with the Article 8 ECHR right to privacy of those affected.
    • The Provocation Defence in Ireland: In a decision handed down a few weeks ago, the Irish Supreme Court was called upon, for the first time, to address the substance and application of the partial defence of provocation in Irish law.