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Research Projects

We have a portfolio of research projects covering a wide range of legal and socio-legal themes. Our staff engage in cutting edge, original research projects generating significant impact.

Research Projects:

Policing, Culture and Community

This research explores the potentials and challenges afforded by arts and culture as a medium for building public trust and confidence in policing. Since 2021, we have been examining the unique partnership between West Midlands Police and the Coventry City of Culture Trust, evaluating the benefits and challenges of this collaborative endeavour, and exploring the broader potential beyond the City of Culture for police partnerships with artists and creative practitioners. We situate our analysis within the context of a widespread crisis in police legitimacy, considering the ways in which arts-based interventions can offer a democratising space in which mutual perceptions can begin to shift; and exploring the complexities and challenges of these endeavours, particularly for more vulnerable and seldom-heard communities..

Check out the project website.

The Vulnerable State: Appraising the Ambivalent Economies of State Power

This project explores the ambivalent and shifting governance of socially marginalised groups in the criminal and administrative justice domains. Alongside the punitive discourses and practices that have long dominated the governance of marginalised groups in England (and elsewhere), in the last decades we can also observe an emphasis on safeguarding and care emerging in various areas of law and public policy. While the former orientation focuses on danger, blame and punishment (the ‘punitive turn’), the latter stresses vulnerability, empathy and protection (the ‘humanitarian turn’).

‘The Vulnerable State’ aims to trace how these apparently competing logics, values and affects frame the discourses, policies and practices implicated in the contemporary governance of the socially marginalised. While they have been studied in isolation, we argue that these trends need to be conceptualised together, as a humanitarian-punitive complex. Their interrelation is especially evident in two areas of public policy: the criminal and the administrative/asylum justice systems. The growing concern about criminal exploitation has rekindled attention in criminal justice towards identifying and protecting ‘vulnerable’ individuals (either as victims or offenders, and often as both through emphasis on trauma informed practices). Meanwhile, in the administrative domain, which has been traditionally oriented towards social care and welfare, an opposite trend is apparent. Particularly in the context of asylum, the language of abuse and security threats has legitimised policies and practices aimed at restricting access to humanitarian protection.

This project has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Check out the project website.

Improving Prosecutorial Responses to Rape Complaints and Complainants

For decades, there has been a disconnect between increasing numbers of survivors reporting sexual violence and the rate at which those complaints have been proceeded against or prosecuted through the criminal justice process. Innovations in how evidence can be provided by complainants, improvements in victim support, and changes to substantive legal tests in relation to consent have all been important, but have not been sufficient to address this significant, and widening, ‘justice gap’.

Having sat on the Ministry of Justice’s End to End Rape Review as an Academic Member, Vanessa Munro was commissioned by the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales to review its initiatives to improve responses to rape complaints and complainants under ‘Operation Soteria’. Working with Alice King and Lotte Andrade Young, Vanessa has undertaken a large-scale qualitative fieldwork study across 5 CPS areas to review pilots intended to: improve partnership-working between police and prosecutors; ensure more timely, proportionate and higher quality rape investigations; encourage more robust and effective trial preparation and strategy; improve communication with and support for victims; and ensure appropriate training and professional development for staff within Rape and Serious Sexual Assault units.

In April 2023, the research team submitted an Interim Findings Report to the CPS, which was published alongside their revised National Operating Model for Rape in July 2023 interim report). In December 2023, the team submitted their Final Findings Report, which will be published by the CPS in March 2024.

As new National Operating Models for the CPS and police are embedded, the research findings will be drawn upon by a number of stakeholders to assess challenges and opportunities in their implementation, and to review (much needed) progress in improving the justice journeys and justice outcomes experienced by victim-survivors.

Domestic Abuse, Suicide and Domestic Homicide Reviews

In her work with REFUGE to explore the scale, mediators and moderators of suicidality amongst its client base (REFUGE report), Vanessa Munro identified significant shortcomings in the probing for, and handling of, disclosures of suicidality amongst professionals, and concerns about the ability of services to ‘join the dots’ in order to effectively identify those most at risk of domestic abuse related suicidality. Following on from this, in 2021, Vanessa secured some funding from the Home Office, under its Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Fund, to conduct further research – with Sarah Dangar of AAFDA and Lotte Young Andrade

Check out the project page.

Domestic Abuse and Suicidality

In 2010, Vanessa Munro (with co-author Sangeeta Shah) published a re-imagined version of the Court’s decision in R v DhaliwalLink opens in a new window as part of a ‘Feminist Judgments’ ProjectLink opens in a new window in England and Wales. In this, they argued that – contrary to what the court had initially concluded – psychological injury in the context of a domestically abusive relationship could constitute ‘bodily harm’ for the purposes of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; and as such, could provide a foundation for manslaughter liability where as a result of such abuse a victim took her own life. In reimaging that decision, based on authority and knowledge as it stood at the time of the case in 2006, Vanessa was aware of the limited evidence base, particularly in the UK, regarding the links between domestic abuse and suicidality – an evidence base that was needed to develop compelling legal arguments about such abuse having caused the death of Gurjit Dhaliwal.

To address this, in 2018, Vanessa worked with colleagues at REFUGE to conduct research into the scale, mediators and moderators of suicidality amongst its client base in England and Wales. Across a sample of more than 3,500 clients, and with further information provided by a series of 20 semi-structured interviews, this report discovered that almost one quarter of clients had felt suicidal at one time or another with 18% having made plans to end their lives. Clients who experienced suicidality were particularly likely to also report feeling despairing and hopeless, with factors linked to drug and alcohol dependency and mental health likely to increase the risk of experiencing suicidality. Read the report.Link opens in a new window

This report has been cited widely by academics and practitioners since publication, and was used to support REFUGE’s campaigning including the launch of a billboard campaign in Leicester Square, London on World Suicide Prevention Day 2018. Vanessa has also built on this work in subsequent research with AAFDA.

Transnational Social Security Law in the Digital Age

Towards a grassroots politics of redistribution.

This project draws on socio-legal and critical political economy analysis, collaborative policy design, and prefigurative law-making methodology to conceptualise and enact a grassroots-inspired framework for transnational social security law that considers the risks and potential of digital technologies in implementing social protection schemes globally.

Check out the project website.

Developing a Data Trust for the Born in Scotland in the 2020s Pilot Study

Jessica Bell has been awarded funding from the Data Trust Initiative to develop a pilot Data Trust for the Born in Scotland in the 2020s birth cohort study. Working with Co-investigators Professor Rebecca Reynolds (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Ann Hagell (Association for Young People’s Health), and bringing together insights from law, healthcare and research governance, the project explores how the ideas behind this new model of data governance can be put into practice in the health research context. A key aim of the project will be to investigate whether and how the legal mechanisms associated with trust law can be used to develop more participatory and trustworthy models of data governance in the digital era.

Check out the project website.

Rosa Luxemburg and International Law - A collective exploration of what Luxemburg’s work has to offer at this juncture of neoliberal capitalism, climate disaster, and pandemic

Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Luxemburg: a revolutionary theorist and political activist, whose work has provided important political economy critiques of imperialism, capitalism, nationalism and advocated for the collective commitment to social justice. While recent books have celebrated her life and intellectual and political legacy, engagement with her work in international law, although with some notable exceptions, has been largely marginal. Despite her sharp and insightful analysis of the nexus between colonialism and capitalist accumulation and her commitment to anti-militarism and internationalism, Luxemburg’s work remains less visible and prominent than male social thinkers.

Co-organised by Serena Natile and Christine Schwöbel-Patel.

Check out the project website.

When is a wedding not a marriage, exploring non-legally binding ceremonies

Rajnaara Akhtar has been awarded a Nuffield Foundation research grant under the ‘justice’ stream for a project titled ‘When is a wedding not a Marriage? Exploring non-legally binding ceremonies’. Working with co-investigator Prof Rebecca Probert (University of Exeter) and research associate Sharon Blake, the project explores why ceremonies are being conducted outside the legal framework, the nature of such ceremonies, and the beliefs, practices, and preferences of those involved. A key aim of the research is to better understand how these weddings engage with the existing weddings law regime and how reform proposals might work.

Check out the project website.

Policing borderscapes: limits, dilemmas, and contradictions of border work in the COVID era

The project explores the shifting and ambivalent logics of border control in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic. The pandemic made apparent the limits, tensions, and contradictions of border control as a form of governance. Border closures and securitisation reinscribed the sovereign state and its exclusionary potential, often exacerbating the vulnerabilities of migrant populations. Such exclusionary logic sometimes dovetailed uneasily with efforts to provide humanitarian assistance.

Through a multi-sited ethnography in three critical border areas (the UK-France maritime border, the Spain-Morocco land border, and the Chile-Bolivia land border), this project investigates how border control officers navigate the contradictory logics of border work between control and care. It will offer unique insights on emerging forms of humanitarian governance of precarious populations around the world, and the challenges for the exercise of state power that they evince. Through an innovative methodology and a carefully crafted dissemination plan, the project will lay the foundations for an ambitious research programme on state power in a globalised world.

Principal Investigators: Ana Aliverti; CoIs: Elisa García España and Roberto Dufraix

This project has been funded by the British Academy (SG2122\210082).

Say My Name

This project aims to explore and promote respectful interactions around names. To create a culture of inclusivity within a diverse learning community, we need to develop practical skills and systems at both individual and institutional level to ensure students and staff are not required to change to fit in, and this includes ensuring that everyone can use the name they prefer and have that name respected.

Led by Professor Jane Bryan (Academic Lead, CVEP) we explore whether a lack of familiarity with the pronunciation and spelling of the names of others creates barriers to teaching and learning, and social interactions. We capture the experiences of both those encountering names with which they are unfamiliar and the experiences of bearers of names that many find unfamiliar, including those who adapt their names or adopt new names to navigate this issue.

Check out the project website.

Understanding Local Legal Needs and Supporting Early Intervention

Led by Dr Tara Mulqueen and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, this project will investigate legal needs that have emerged in the wake of the pandemic, the impact of increased reliance on digital technology and the role of public legal education (PLE) in improving access to justice for marginalised groups.

Legal needs have historically exceeded the capacity of traditional legal services. Cuts to publicly funded legal services and the shift to digital services have exacerbated this dynamic. The COVID-19 pandemic increased pressure to develop alternative ways for marginalised groups and communities to access justice. This coincided with the shift to early intervention and PLE (Public Legal Education) to curtail the number of litigants and prevent legal disputes escalating to crisis. Digital solutions have been proposed as a useful method for conducting PLE and other forms of intervention. However, there is a dearth of research to inform the development of this work and the potential ways in which digital services could intensify difficulties faced by vulnerable people.

This project has two interlinked elements:

  • a local, qualitative legal needs study
  • a public legal education workshop programme, both taking place in Coventry

Find out more about the project.

Reconceptualising international trade law: In search of a bounded, socially embedded and re-connected regime

James Harrison has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowships for the 2021-22 academic year. This fellowship will allow James to work exclusively for a year on a project entitled ‘Reconceptualising international trade law: In search of a bounded, socially embedded and re-connected regime’. The project explores problems associated with a ‘sprawling’ international trade law regime which lacks a coherent underlying rationale. The central aim of the project is to develop a new paradigm underlying trade policy that is more socially, developmentally and environmentally responsible, and more sensitive to the practical realities of how international trade is conducted. It builds on a previous empirical research project which was funded by the ESRC entitled “Working Beyond the Border: European Union Trade Agreements and International Labour Standards”.

Assessing Rights to Bangladeshi Citizenship of Stateless Rohingya Children

Simon Behrman has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant of £9,752 towards his project. In recent years some 900,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar. Their situation is precarious as most are stateless and Bangladesh has no legal framework for people to claim refugee status. However, Rohingya children who have been born to at least one Bangladeshi parent, which accounts for around 36,0000 people, have a strong claim to citizenship under both Bangladeshi and international law. Yet citizenship rights have not been granted to most of these children.

The project will investigate why this failure has occurred, and what legal and political strategies can be mobilised to rectify it. The funding awarded will pay for travel to Bangladesh to interview affected refugees, along with lawyers, judges and NGOs involved in the process for applying for Bangladeshi citizenship, to gather first hand testimonies of the legal and bureaucratic difficulties they face in making these claims for citizenship. The trip will be combined with presenting the initial project findings at one of the major research centres on forced migration in South Asia, the Calcutta Research Group.

The initial aim of this project is to better understand what legal and administrative blockages are preventing eligible Rohingya refugee children from gaining Bangladeshi citizenship. However, it is also part of a much bigger research project on asylum in South Asia that he is working on. This wider research seeks to understand better the practices of asylum in a region that, on the one hand, has no specific refugee law framework, yet on the other hand has been and continues to be one of the largest refugee-hosting regions in the world. The focus of Simon’s research has always been on examining the gaps in international refugee law, and a critique of that legal regime as being fundamentally exclusionary in respect of most forced migrants. “What interests me about South Asia is that it has never had a refugee law framework, while at the same time it has been the site of some of the largest refugee movements in history, from Partition in 1947 through to the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971, to more recent arrivals of refugees from Afghanistan and Myanmar.”

The role of rights in achieving climate justice and sustainable development

Sam Adelman has been awarded a British Academy senior research fellowship. The project will analyse the use of rights-based climate litigation in two developing countries: the constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment in South Africa and the rights of nature in Colombia. It will identify successful litigation strategies, and identify rights-based cases likely to be brought in future. It will analyse the role of rights-based litigation in protecting nature, promoting sustainable development, and protecting the human rights of particularly vulnerable groups such as women, children and indigenous peoples. It will analyse the role of human rights and climate litigation in protecting the rights of future generations. The research will assess the degree to which these provide models for climate litigation in other countries in the global South.

A Feminist Recovery Plan for Covid-19 and Beyond: Learning from Grassroots Activism

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed deep inequalities embedded in national and international socio-economic systems and legal frameworks. Over-stretched social services and an over-reliance on unpaid and precarious labour compensate for the inadequacies of social infrastructure, economic policies and labour regulation, instead of inspiring more social justice-driven approaches. The crisis can provide an opportunity to identify the limits of such systems and reimagine the policies that shape them. This project aims to bring together activists, academics and policy-makers to collectively reimagine a feminist recovery plan for Covid-19 and beyond by placing grassroots feminisms at the centre of policy-making, learning from the past and looking at the future.

Check out the project website.

This project is coordinated by Serena Natile and funded by the IRSF.

There is no app for that, regulating health apps in Sub Saharan Africa.

Dr Sharifah Sekalala, has been awarded 50,000 Euros by The Wellcome Trust and £5k ISRF grant to support her project: ‘There is no app for that, regulating health apps in Sub Saharan Africa.’

In 2018 an article in the Economist declared that data was becoming more valuable than oil. Migration usually refers to people, but the migration of data is becoming equally important with terms such as data colonisation becoming mainstream. Many health apps facilitate the migration of data. Whereas other kinds of transnational health data collection and transfer tend to be highly regulated (e.g., clinical trials) the migration of data generated by health apps is inadequately regulated.

This project analyses the gaps in this regulation and their impact. The project will map health apps in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa to examine the problem, organise networking events in order to agree on a consensus on the kinds of apps most likely to benefit from further study, and discuss how equitable frameworks might inform the development of improved regulation in this area, within a larger project that will include different stakeholders.

Webinar Report: Regulating Migration of Health Data in Africa | Findings Report: mHealth International Webinar on the Regulation of Data in Sub-Saharan Africa - June 2021

Check out the project website.

Public Engagement through the Figure of David Bowie

This project by Professor Alex Sharpe has involved exploring philosophical ideas (difference, authenticity, love), creative methodologies (William Burroughs cut-ups writing technique) and public debates (the proper relation between ethics, aesthetics and art) through the figure of David Bowie as guide. It has involved a series of public lectures on the legal category and social theory template Monster (Phoenix, Canberra, Brisbane, London (2016), Manchester, Keele (View Recording), Edinburgh (2017) and Sheffield (2018)) on the influence of William Burroughs writing methods on the creative output of the artist (5th Annual David Bowie Festival, Dublin 2020) on the concept of authenticity (6th Annual David Bowie Festival, Dublin 2021) and on the relationship between ethics, aesthetics and art in the context of Bowie's 'flirtation' with fascism (view video of Warwick Law School Virtual Public Lecture). The project will culminate in a book (a collection of essays) titled: David Bowie Outlaw, which will be written so as to be accessible to non-academic as well as academic audiences. The book will be published by Routledge in 2021.

Safeguarding human rights during the coronavirus response

Sharifah Sekalala is currently undertaking two significant projects aimed at ensuring that human rights don’t get eroded in the national and international response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Supported by funding from the University of Warwick’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, Dr Sekalala will lead a project scrutinising the emergency laws introduced in the UK and around the world in response to COVID-19. The project team will submit evidence to the UK Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, which has announced an inquiry into COVID-19 and human rights, and also write a global human rights impact assessment on global emergency laws for the World Health Organisation Bulletin which is read by public health officials, legal counsels and policy makers.

Dr Sekalala will also write a series of blog posts and briefings aimed at helping the general public understand the social and legal impact of the crisis.

One of the first of these has been published by the Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Centre for International Development (WICID). In the current post of the “Think Development” blog, Dr Sekalala explores the “serious and structural gendered inequities in healthcare” highlighted by both the coronavirus pandemic and the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

She argues: “We use the language of heroism to obscure; the very nature of the ‘hero’ identity requires that only a few people can be identified as such, and those that do meet the criteria require self-sacrifice in order to do so. In reality, both in the UK and globally, the group of people who provide care is much bigger. At the bottom are people who we have severely oppressed, and we owe it to these carers to move beyond the metaphors, and to examine and document the experiences of the categories of carers in the COVID-19 crisis if we are to remove the structural barriers to caring for them.”

Dr Sekalala is an expert on the relationship between law, global health, and human rights. In 2019 she served as the only lawyer on the Nuffield Council on Bioethics working group on global health emergencies, advising on the ethics of medical research during pandemics.

The working group’s report was published in January 2020 just as the first reports of a new virus in Wuhan were emerging. She is now focused on COVID-19 and the potential for people’s human rights to be unintentionally or inadvertently breached as a result of the international response to the pandemic.

A Fair Chance for Education

The Fair Chance Foundation Project researched access to Higher Education in Haryana, India, focusing on gendered social relations and differences in choices, obstacles and opportunities for young people between January 2017 and May 2022.

Our research has highlighted the importance of family members in decision making but also the challenges that families with little or no history of higher education face in supporting their young people in making choices and taking up opportunities. The project has a number of phases culminating in an impact and dissemination phase. This devised a programme of actions aimed at stimulating positive social change which built on the findings from the three project research phases. We worked with local partners to encourage the development of an outreach culture in Haryana, India (and beyond). The project produced a Policy Brief (PB) which was well received by local and national educational policy makers and an Outreach Activity Resource (OAR) (a toolkit) which was used by government colleges in Haryana to pilot ‘taster’ days. The PB and OAR have been recognised by local and national policy makers as contributing to the implementation of India’s National Education Policy 2020. The project focused on supporting the development of outreach activities within government colleges which provide higher education to the most disadvantaged communities and also to those young people who are the first generation of higher education students in their families.

Our ethos was collaborative: we worked with project partners in India and our wider consultative group of predominately early career researchers to co – develop each phase of the project and to co produce the PB and OAR.

Find out more about the project here.

Narratives of sexual consent in criminal courts, 1870-1950

This project by Dr Laura Lammasniemi project calls for new thinking on sexual consent as a legal concept. It explores how sexual consent was understood in every-day criminal trials before the legal definition of consent, and asks what that legal history can tell us about the very nature of this contested concept. The project is based on archival research on courtroom narratives in England between 1870 and 1956, leading up to the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act 1956. It will focus on criminal trials, and related appeals, in three areas: (i) rape, (ii) procurement for prostitution and trafficking, and (iii) sexual activity with girls under the age of consent to assess consent and capacity in different contexts. There was no legal definition of consent until 2003 and so at every trial the meaning of consent was evaluated and reinterpreted. Through historical analysis, the project will bring crucial insights on contemporary legal debates on sexual consent at a time when conviction rates are at an all-time low. The project utilises archival research to stage performance pieces to explore the performative aspects of determining consent. Through archival research and the performance pieces, it considers how consent can be created, or eradicated, as part of criminal trials, and whether the difficulty in defining consent is contained within the notion itself or within its translation into the court process.

Check out the project website.

The project is generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The initial stage of the project was funded by Warwick Research Development Fund.

The appreciation of law by the critical lights of the arts and humanities

Gary Watt has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship. The award includes a grant of £175,554 to buy out Gary’s teaching for a period of three years allowing him to undertake a major research project.

For many years Gary has been committed in his teaching and research to the appreciation of law by the critical lights of the arts and humanities. He has published books on law and literature, Shakespeare and the law plus dress and law, and was also responsible for the creation of the Law and Humanities journal with Warwick Law’s Paul Raffield, which he continues to co-edit today. He is also general editor of the six-book series A Cultural History of Law, which is due to be published later this year. “The Leverhulme Fellowship gives me a sustained opportunity to pursue this passion for interdisciplinary work.”

Through the project, Gary will test his theory that law’s activities, especially advocacy and judgment in Common Law courts, are better appreciated as creative and artistic processes of production (production of persuasive narratives, satisfactory outcomes, plausible facts etc.) rather than as scientific processes of fact-finding and discovery of abstract truth. He will go on to ask whether this way of appreciating law can help us better understand how judgments are formed (that is per-formed) in courts of popular opinion through traditional and social media. He added “hopefully we will acquire a deeper appreciation of what it means to talk of ‘post-truth politics’, ‘fake news’ and ‘trial by twitter’.”

Police-immigration cooperation in UK domestic policing

This project by Professor Ana Aliverti documents existing arrangements and practices in the policing of immigration status, and examines the everyday operation of immigration-police cooperation in England under the remit of Operation Nexus. Nexus aims to bring together operational and intelligence capabilities and resources in the police and immigration services to deal effectively with offending by foreign national citizens, reduce costs involved in pursuing them through the criminal justice system, and enhance public security.

Focused on two major regional police forces, the project will evaluate the joint enforcement operation between the police and the regional branches of the Home Office’s Immigration Compliance and Enforcement team. It will also examine the cross-border dimensions of migration policing in key migration sending countries. The ultimate objective of Ana’s research is to document and scrutinize how the new policy emphasis on foreign nationals in British domestic policing has brought to the fore the role of the police in mediating belonging and has legitimized extraterritorial interventions. Drawing on policing scholarship and post-colonial theory, her research will offer new insights on the internationalization of criminal justice and will chart a new, exciting research agenda on policing, mobility and globalization.

This project has been generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the University of Warwick’s Impact Fund.

1-800-DOCTORS: Indian telemedicine

Dr Sharifah Sekalala received £4,509 from ISRF towards her project 1-800-DOCTORS: Indian telemedicine, African patients and clinical care after Covid-19’. This is a small scoping study with Sarah Hodges from Warwick’s History department and Julia Hornberger in South Africa. It aims to analyse the increasing use of telemedicine from India in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and how this is reinforcing an emerging field of India-Africa relations.

This research explores the long term effects of Covid-19, not on individual markets but rather on the very practice of medical care, world-over. Much attention has already been paid to the epidemiological, economic and political effects of our on-going COVID-19 crisis: mass death and illness, border closures across the world and a restructuring of everyday life. Here, public health, biomedical and life sciences and economists have been at the forefront.

“In our project we will use the tools of the critical medical humanities, to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated as well as restructured practices and everyday patterns of accessing healthcare, through studying the contemporary history (Hodges), regulatory challenges (Sekalala) and cultural heft (Hornberger) of Indian tele-medicine and e-health practices as it has grown up over the continent over the course of the twentieth century.”

Africa, whether as a continent or as individual nations, typically figures in public speech and policy as an exemplar of crisis and underdevelopment. This is particularly marked when it comes to health. “The starting point of our project is that this stereotype hides profound truths. Rather than an emblem of “backwardness” [sic], we argue that for telemedicine and e-health, Africa is where the future of clinical care has already begun."

Transforming gender relations in an ageing world

Professor Stewart research focuses on gender and ageing particularly in the context of Africa. She has been involved in a series of linked research projects since 2016. The first of these focuses on caring for older women in the changing socio-economic and political circumstances in Kenya, with a particular focus on the effects of the traditional, community and family customs of caring for older people, This led to a collaboration in 2017 with HelpAge International to create a policy discussion paper (together with Dr Lander) that explores the way in which intersecting inequalities affect life courses and gender relations in older age. More recently, with funding from University of Warwick’s Global Challenges Research Accelerator Fund, Professor Stewart has been exploring the wider continental impacts, and is expanding research to Ethiopia and Malawi. The next phase in the research is twofold. Firstly the production of a monograph. To prepare for this she hosted an intensive writing workshop for the co-authors in December 2019. Secondly to deepen understanding among African regional policy makers of the importance of adopting a life course perspective to gender and ageing and in the development of long term care policies and build support for further collaborative research (taking forward the recommendations from our 2019 workshop).

Funded by: Leverhulme Trust, British Institute in Eastern Africa, HelpAge International, University of Warwick’s Global Challenges Research Accelerator Fund, University of Warwick Institute for Advanced Studies; University of Warwick Economic and Social Research Council Impact Accelerator Award.

Continuities, Discontinuities and Ruptures: Exploring Islamic Constitutionalism(s) in the Muslim World

This project was run by Shaheen Ali. This research addresses the following questions: How is Islamic constitutionalism conceptualized, understood and applied in Muslim majority jurisdictions? What are the reference points of the informed Muslim regarding Islamic constitutionalism?

How many Muslims refer to the Medina Charter/Constitution as the starting point for Islamic constitutionalism? Are there any contemporary re-readings of the Medina Charter in Arabic language literature? If so, what views do they reflect regarding modern articulations of Islamic constitutionalism? How different or similar are these parameters and characteristics of Islamic constitutionalism in academic discourse? What level of commitment to Islamic constitutionalism is reflected in case law of Muslim states? To what extent do Muslims connect and/link constitutionalism with democracy? What challenges emerge as a result of this exploration and what are likely future possibilities and directions for an ‘Islamic’ state and government as a result of widespread ‘constitutional Islamization’?

This project was supported by Kuwait International Law School.

From the Haitian Revolution to Appomattox: Law, Slavery and Citizenship in the Atlantic World, 1791-1865

Dr Philip Kaisary received a Fulbright award, commencing in August 2015 at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee. This project will focus on the constitutionalism of the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) and the interpretative archive it generated in the United States through 1865.

Philip will explore Haiti’s early constitutions in order to examine how the former slaves of St Domingue sought to codify in law their vision of freedom. This project will thereby provide a more complete critical picture of how constitutionalism, nationality, and citizenship figured in the jigsaw puzzle of Haitian, U.S., and Atlantic politics in this period, arguing that the birth of the world’s first black republic generated an enduring ideological inheritance and blazed a radical trail long into the 19th century Atlantic world.

This project was supported by Fullbright Commission.

Criminal Justice and the Blaming Relation

This project by Dr Alan Norrie develops broader and narrower conceptions of ‘the blaming relation’ to address four central problems in criminal justice thinking. The core idea is of a relationship between (broader) ethical conceptions of freedom and solidarity and the (narrower) ways in which these are structured and shaped by modern socio-political relations to generate criminal justice forms. The relationship between the broader and narrower conceptions is then explored in the four problem areas. These involve in summary the relationship between criminal justice and (1) social reform/justice; (2) preventive justice; (3) historical (in) justice; and (4) restorative/transitional justice.

This project was supported by Leverhulme Trust.

To Do, To Die, To Reason Why; The Ethical Lives of Combatants

This project by Professor Victor Tadros is concerned with the ethics of individual conduct in before during and after war. It is concerned with decisions whether to join the military, whether and how to participate in wars, when to follow orders, and what to do after the war is over. It looks at those decisions both from the perspective of soldiers deciding how to act, but also from the perspective of those who might respond to their actions either through preventive harm, or by holding them accountable for their actions.

This project is sponsored by Leverhulme Trust.

Explore past research projects:

Professor Vanessa Munro is one of the researchers behind a major study by the Scottish Government into the unique nature of the Scottish jury system. Scottish Jury Research: Findings From a Large-Scale Mock Jury Study involved 64 mock juries and 969 individual participants. It is the first to consider the unique nature of the Scottish jury system with 15 jurors, three verdicts and a simple majority. The report sets out the researchers’ findings but does not make any recommendations. The study was commissioned by the Scottish Government in response to Lord Bonomy’s Post Corroboration Safeguards Review, which recommended that research should be carried out to ensure that any changes to Scotland’s jury system should be made only on a fully informed basis, including the impact having a three verdict system has on decision making.

Find out more about the Scottish Jusy Research project here.

Professor Vanessa Munro was a collaborator on a ERSC funded project which was entitled ‘Impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on criminal justice journeys of adult and child survivors of sexual abuse, rape and sexual assault’. The total value was just under £215,000 and the project was hosted jointly out of Coventry and Lancaster. The project aimed to gather survivors’ and other criminal justice system stakeholders’ perspectives and experiences of (changes to) policies and practices in relation to sexual offences cases during the Covid-19 pandemic. We wanted to understand how these experiences vary across settings and groups.

The project made recommendations for criminal justice policy and practice in England and Wales in relation to sexual offences, in particular, any innovations that may be of value post-pandemic. Further information about this project can be found here.

This project was funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2016-2018 - £42,319). It considers, and critiques, a series of criminal prosecutions brought against trans and other gender non-conforming young people for so-called ‘gender identity fraud’ between 2012-2018. In particular, it rethinks the criminal law and philosophical concepts of consent, harm and deception, in light of these prosecutions. The project led to a series of peer-reviewed articles (see Publications tab), media interventions and blogs (see ‘Media’ tab), and culminated in Alex’s third monograph, Sexual Intimacy and Gender Identity ‘Fraud’: reframing the legal & ethical debate (Routledge, 2018)

Prof Rebecca Probert

Law Commission

Professor Rebecca Probert has worked as a specialist advisor with the Law Commission on a review of the law governing how and where people can marry in England and Wales. The scoping phase of the project concluded with the publication of Getting Married on 17 December 2015.

The aim of the review was to consider whether the current law provides a fair and coherent legal framework for enabling people to marry and to identify areas of the law that might benefit from reform. Since the relevant legislation is over 65 years old and is a consolidation of various statutes dating back to 1836 (and in a number of respects to 1753), this specifically drew on her knowledge of the historical context.

The scoping phase involved a preliminary study involving research into domestic and comparative law, and discussion with key stakeholders. The resulting paper explains why full-scale reform of this area of the law is needed and identifies the questions that would need to be examined to achieve such reform. Click hereLink opens in a new window for further information.

Dr Ania Zbyszewska

Lund Fellowship

Ania Zbyszewska received £10,000 from the Lund Fellowship scheme in the Norma Elder Law Research Environment at Lund University to become a visiting research fellow, where Ania will spend three months (April -July 2015). Whilst there Ania has worked in parallel with other labour lawyers and members of the Law Faculty-based Norma and Elder Law Research Environments on a number of projects analysing European policies aimed at employment activation of older people, particularly women, and examining crosscutting social and policy tensions that are exposed when older workers re-enter labour markets or when they are unable to do so. This work tackles important questions about the adequacy of long-term development plans that hinge heavily on active aging, as they do in many countries facing demographic crises and at the EU level. The funding comes from the Ragnar Söderberg’s Foundation and the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.

Prof Jackie Hodgson

CJC members Jackie Hodgson and Kevin Hearty have secured funding for the Centre for Operational Police Research with colleagues from other departments.

Professors Jackie Hodgson, Neil Stewart (Psychology) and Carsten Maple (WMG) have secured £40,000 from Warwick Strategic Impact Fund for collaborative work with the Metropolitan Police Service. The funding is set to help develop a network of academics and active police staff and officers around three central research projects.

Professor Jackie Hodgson and Dr Kevin Hearty, along with Associate Professor Kim Wade and Professor Neil Stewart (Psychology), have also secured £20,000 from the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account to collaborate with West Mercia and Warwickshire Police. The funded project: “We don’t buy crime” will develop and evaluate the impact of Smartwater technology and other preventive interventions on public confidence in and satisfaction with the policing of burglary.

Dr Ana Aliverti

British Academy

Proposed as a pilot project, it will involve the analysis of decision-making processes in two criminal courts in Birmingham. Specifically, this research will investigate whether and in which ways the immigration status of the defendant influences the decision to prosecute, the defence’s legal strategy, the decision on bail, and sentencing choices. In addition, it will examine the impact that a prospective deportation of the defendant has on sentencing decisions.The proposed research aims to investigate the impact of immigration status on the treatment of defendants before the criminal justice system. While citizenship and immigration status are in principle irrelevant for establishing criminal liability and punishment, this research seeks to examine whether and to what extent they influence everyday decisions by criminal justice actors.

The proposed project, which lays the foundation of a larger research project, is both topical and timely given the unprecedented levels of human mobility and the impact of mass migration on public services, including the criminal justice system.

Dr Illan rua Wall

Independent Social
Research Foundation

The research looks at the relation between law and disorder. Legal concepts are usually framed as being a part of the everyday social order. However, in moments of disorder we find the legal system stripped of its conventional architecture: the monopoly of the use of force, the control of territory and populations, the authority of the legislature, the constitutional unity of the people, or law’s claim to neutral universal protection. In moments of disorder, law as an institution and a basis of the social order is questioned. The problem with extant ideas of the law of disorder is that they start from law’s ‘normalcy’. The ‘Law of Disorder’ reverses the priority wherein law is the horizon of meaning for understanding disorder. Instead it places the emphasis on thinking from within the ‘disordered’ event, attempting to see beyond the conventional legal understanding of constitutional ‘origins’, criminal prosecution and balancing of rights. During the ISRF fellowship, rather than beginning with war, the state of exception or transitional justice (all points of interest for ‘the Law of Disorder’), the project will focus on protest crowds. These reveal essential questions about law and social order. The project will analyse how the protest crowd generates an atmosphere in the space it occupies. From the square or park, sometimes this atmosphere begins to seep outwards, gradually settling upon the city or even the state (as a sense of crisis). Take for example the atmosphere of Madrid or Athens at the height of the Indignados occupations. In this new atmosphere, there is a revision of the type of political settlement that is realistic and possible, evidenced in Greece by the emergence and success of Syriza, the anti-austerity party.

Dr Ana Aliverti

British Academy/Leverhulme

Dr Ana Aliverti has been awarded the British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award (BARSEA). The BARSEA aims at providing an opportunity for early career researchers who have established their academic credentials as leaders in their field to enhance their skills and career development through playing a leading role in engaging others through the organisation of engagement events. Ana is the co-host and leading organiser of a two-day international workshop entitled ‘Criminal Adjudication in the Age of Migration’ to take place in March 2016 at the University of Oxford.

This workshop will bring together leading international scholars and early career researchers from various countries, doctoral students, and British policy makers and practitioners to shed light on the relevance of citizenship and immigration status in criminal justice decision-making. The theme of the workshop is associated to Ana’s current research project, funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, which investigates the impact of immigration status and citizenship on the treatment of defendants before the criminal justice system.

Dr Kevin Hearty


Prof Jackie Hodgson


Professor Jackie Hodgson and Dr Kevin Hearty (Law School), along with Associate Professor Kim Wade and Professor Neil Stewart (Psychology), have secured £20,000 from the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account to collaborate with West Mercia and Warwickshire Police.

The funded project: “We don’t buy crime” will develop and evaluate the impact of Smartwater technology and other preventive interventions on public confidence in, and satisfaction with, the policing of burglary. The research is carried out through the Centre for Operational Police Research (COPR) and will survey residents across several towns, asking them about their views on crime and policing in their local area. Follow up surveys and focus group interviews will be carried out at three and six month intervals to try to gauge whether different police interventions have had an impact on the public’s confidence in policing and in particular, the level of satisfaction in policing shown by victims of burglary. The police will draw on the findings of the research to inform their future strategy on effective burglary intervention.

There is national interest in smart water technology and other forces, such as the Met, have claimed that Smartwater has helped to reduce rate of burglary. However, rather than relying only on local crime figures, West Mercia and Warwickshire police have approached COPR to provide an independent, academic evaluation of the impact of this and other initiatives on public confidence in, and victim satisfaction with, the policing of burglary.

Dr Giuliano Castellano


Dr Giuliano G. Castellano has secured £10,000 from the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account to explore with a two-year project the strategies for reforming secured transactions law – in different legal contexts – as a way to foster access to credit and increase market liquidity.

Secured transactions are key components of market economies and international finance. Through non-possessory security interests business may gain access to credit by collateralising tangible or intangible assets that are integral to the operation of their respective businesses, while retaining control and continuing to profit from those same assets. From a broader perspective, non-possessory security interests are a form of liquidity provided through the financial system, without excessive reliance on the real-estate market.

Pursuing these benefits, national and international policymakers have embarked on various legal reform projects that aim to establish coherent and internationally harmonised sets of rules for secured credit. Of particular relevance are the works of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) that are driving legal reforms in different legal systems. Nonetheless, the implementation of international legal standards into national legal contexts – and in general the reform of this ambit of the law – has proven to be problematic. First, a problem of ‘legal transplant’ may emerge: norms generated outside a given legal systems are often rejected or misinterpreted by receiving countries. This in turn renders reforms ineffective and international harmonisation a chimera. Second, there is a critical, yet not fully explored, connection with banking regulation, in particular with liquidity requirements. While international financing laws are trying to foster secured credit, banking (prudential) regulation may limit the use of secured credit. Hence reforms aimed at reforming secured transactions ultimately clash with regulatory requirements.

Moving from the findings of a recent research, the project aims at devising specific reform strategies to address these issues in order to guide law reforms in different legal contexts. The research output is hence translated into policy language with particular reference to the implementation of UNCITRAL’s works.

Dr Maebh Harding

Nuffield Grant

Maebh Harding was awarded a Nuffield grant of £106,453 to look at ‘How do County Courts share care of children between parents?’ In December 2013, a briefing document on the initial findings of Nuffield Project was submitted to the House of Lords in advance of the debate over Clause 11 of the Children and Families Bill.

The briefing paper was referred to in the debate and was influential to the vote which amended the section to make clear to parents that there is no legal presumption of equal time in the post dispute child care pattern. The final report was published in May 2015 and has received a good deal of media attention with coverage in the Independent, Times and Telegraph. The final report improves the evidence base for assessment of the efficiency of recent reforms to the family justice system.

Maebh was also successful in obtaining funding from the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, so that hard copies of the report could be printed.

Maebh is currently working on distribution to maximise the impact of the report as part of a targeted dissemination strategy.

Dr Ming-Sung Kuo

Chiang-Ching Kuo

The objective of this research project is to shed light on the conditions for judicial review in steering the interdepartmental relationship between the political departments of constitutional power by examining the changing role of the Taiwan Constitutional Court (Justices of the Judicial Yuan, hereinafter the Court) in managing interdepartmental jurisdictional conflict since its inception in 1948.

Professor Ann Stewart

Leverhulme Trust

This study assesses the contribution of community-based ‘woman to woman’ marriage practices in Kenya to the provision of care, particularly for the elderly, when there is little social welfare available. The everyday practices of caring for older people particularly women, traditionally woven into communal relations, are changing in the socioeconomic and political circumstances of contemporary Kenya. Are woman to woman marriages, historically understood as a means of tackling infertility, evolving into a way of recognising and ‘rewarding’ caring labour for those with assets? How are claims for recognition understood now in the ‘formal’ courts and within community dispute resolution practices?

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Kimberley Brownlee

Philip Leverhulme Scheme

Kimberley Brownlee was awarded a three-year Philip Leverhulme Prize. These prizes were designed to recognise and facilitate the work of outstanding young research scholars who are mkaing original and significant contributions to knowledge in their field. Kimberley is using the funding to work on a substantial project on the ethics of sociability (including a book project under contract with Oxford University Press).

Prof Lee Bridges

Legal Services Commission

Professor Lee Bridges has been co-directing this four-year study funded by the Legal Services Commission to evaluate the pilot public defender service currently operating in six locations throughout the country. The report was published by the Stationery Office in 2007..

Prof Victor Tadros


This project is a four year legal and philosophical investigation into criminalization. The project will involve the four lead researchers, Antony Duff (Philosophy, Stirling), Lindsay Farmer (Law, Glasgow), Sandra Marshall (Philosophy, Stirling) and Victor Tadros(Law, Warwick), a Research Assistant, Massimo Renzo (based at Stirling) and two PhD Students, based at Warwick and Glasgow. The project has been generously funded by a large grant from the AHRC. The central questions to be addressed by the project concern what and how conduct should be criminalized.

Prof Jackie Hodgson

European Commission

Together with colleagues in four other EU states, Professor Jackie Hodgson has been awarded a European Commission Action grant of 375,000 Euros for the project: Protecting Young Suspects in Interrogations: A Study on Safeguards and Best Practice. The objective of this two year project is to strengthen the protection of young suspects during interrogation by the police in the EU. The project consists of a comparative empirical study of the different legal procedural safeguards in place in Belgium, England and Wales, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands. Based on these findings, this will be followed by professional training and recommendations for minimum EU rules and best practice.

Prof Jackie Hodgson

European Commission

This research explores the rights of suspects in police custody in England and Wales, Scotland, France and the Netherlands. Researchers are carrying out fieldwork with police and lawyers in all four jurisdictions, investigating the existence, application and exercise of suspects’ rights.

As well as writing up these findings for an academic audience ("Inside Police Custody: An Empirical Account of Suspects' Rights in Four Jurisdictions" to be published by Intersentia), the project will also identify best practice and training needs through the production of a training manual for criminal justice personnel. The project team includes John Long from Avon & Somerset police, JUSTICE and the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Prof Jackie Hodgson

European Commission

Professor Jacqueline Hodgson is co-directing this EU funded study (2004-2007) of the provision of legal advice to criminal suspects across eight EU countries. The research involves academics and practitioners from each jurisdiction and the findings are set out in an edited collection published by Intersentia in 2007.

Prof Lee Bridges

Legal Services Commission

Professor Lee Bridges has been co-directing this four-year study funded by the Legal Services Commission to evaluate the pilot public defender service currently operating in six locations throughout the country. The report was published by the Stationery Office in 2007..

Prof Dora Kostakopoulou

Dora Kostopoulou was awarded £5,000 to host an interdisciplinary workshop on 'Constitutionalism(s) post 2008' as part of the ModernLaw Review seminar series. The event was organised by Professor Dora Kostakpoulou, Abdul Paliwala and Ralf Rogowski, and brought together a range of well-known international scholars working on political, societal, Europe and global constitutionalism.

Dr Illan Wall

Illan Wall and Mairead Enright (Kent) were awarded £14,000 from the ESRC to undertake a series of seminars on the Public Life of Private Law. The five seminars were held between Warwick and Kent, with the final drafting workshop concluding in December 2014.

Celine Tan and John McEldowney

Celine Tan and John McEldowney were awarded £2,400 from SLSA and £2,400 from the SLS to fund the International Economic Law in Context Workshop series, which will run under the research centre (GLOBE). A key objective of the workshop series is to introduce and develop contextual methodologies, including socio-legal methodologies, to scholars of international economic law, and to increase the profile of socio-legal and other contextual approaches to scholarship in international economic law. The first of the workshops will be focused on the theme of climate change, resilience and international economic law. The second workshop will be focused on sovereign debt law and governance. There will be two further workshops in the summer and autumn terms of 2016. Workshop participants will include a mix of invited speakers and open calls for participation..

Titilayo Adebola

Titilayo Adebola received a ‘special mention’ for her poster titled ‘Implementing Obligations under Article 27.3(b) of TRIPS in the Global South’ at the 2015 SLSA conference. This has been one of the highlights of my doctoral research experience. Although the poster preparation phase was challenging, I felt my hard work was worthwhile after my supervisor - Dwijen Rangnekar - commented on a draft saying ‘this is not only an aesthetically pleasing poster – but you have achieved the incredible of being able to succinctly capture the core contours and elements of your doctoral work (as it currently stands) in this. That is really commendable!!’ Encouraged by Dwijen’s glowing remarks, I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my poster, and received valuable feedback from colleagues as well as senior academics. Following on from this, I have been invited to present my research at various upcoming conferences, including a presentation at the University of Birmingham law postgraduate research conference.

Celine Tan and Julio Faundez

Julio Faundez and Celine Tan were awarded £5,000 from Banco Santander to support the hosting of an interdisciplinary Workshop on the Rule of Law, Governance and Natural Resources at the University of Amsterdam from 22 - 23 January 2015. The workshop was a follow-up to the Workshop on International Law, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, held at Warwick in 2013.