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My Research

The broad framework for my research and teaching is a contextual approach to law and socio-political discourse.

My particular interest lies in the ability of the law to account for the 'human' and the 'cultural' and this forms the basis for my current research which explores the moral foundations of the Asylum and Refugee system and the associated narratives of suffering, harms and humanitarianism at both a political and individual level.

My background in Law and Humanities has facilitated my less traditional approach to law and I have previously published in the area of law and literature and presented conference and workshop papers on asylum seekers and the legal and national conscience. Further details of my previous work can be found in the Publications section.

PhD Research Project:

The question of a receiving state's moral, ethical and legal responsibilities to asylum seekers is traditionally (and typically) framed in terms of the assessment of state responsibilities towards competing international humanitarian and national interests. With increasingly restrictive practices by receiving states towards asylum seekers since the inception of the refugee convention, the purpose of my PhD research is to rethink some of the assumptions that typically underlie challenges to asylum and refugee policy, and the attempts to justify it within the general theoretical framework of liberal political philosophy.

Looking specifically at the intersections of law and political philosophy, I propose to redescribe existing accounts of obligations to asylum seekers by exploring the moral foundations of asylum protection and on what grounds the asylum system may be justified.

The background to my thesis can be found here; and the chapter outline of my thesis here.

The RESEARCH QUESTION for the thesis is:

"What are the limits of popular theoretical accounts in justifying the asylum system?"

The CENTRAL SUB-QUESTIONS of the thesis include:

  • What is significant about the moral claim of the asylum seeker?
  • Do states have a special responsibility to asylum seekers in/on their own territory that justifies the prioritisation of these men and women over others in danger who are far away?
  • What are the limits of humanitarian accounts in justifying this prioritisation of responsibility to asylum seekers?
  • What are the limits of demarcating the suffering of the asylum seeker as the justification for such privileging?
  • How might we justify an asylum system?

Main Argument:

The Main Argument of the thesis is that if we are to maintain a system of asylum, we must first locate a defensible account of obligation or responsibility that accommodates the 'exceptional obligations' to assist and prioritise asylum seekers over and above other victims of harm.

Main Supervisor:

Professor Victor Tadros

School of Law
University of Warwick

Tel: (44) 024 76150409
Fax: (44) 024 76524105


Dallal Stevens

School of Law
University of Warwick

Tel: 024 765 23289
Fax: 024 765 24105