About Harriet Cornell

Global Justice Academy Development Officer, Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow in History, University of Edinburgh

Challenges of the New Urban Agenda

This guest post is by Pedro Cisterna Gaete, who is reading for an LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law at Edinburgh Law School. Pedro is a qualified lawyer from Chile, and former Deputy National Social Director of TECHO, Chile. In this post, he explores the ideas around the Right to the City, and current challenges facing the world’s urban spaces and their populations.

Almost two years ago, the last UN Conference on Human Settlements was celebrated in Quito, Ecuador. At this international meeting, representatives of the majority of governments and also several non-governmental organisations discussed what the essential international urban challenges for the next 20 years would be, and raised a vigorous agenda relating to our cities. This post addresses three main aspects of this  meeting:

  • the official inclusion of the right to the city;
  • the existing and growing housing challenge; and
  • the crucial implementation of this agenda.

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Inspiring Action in these Challenging Times

The Global Justice Academy (GJA) and Edinburgh Law School welcomed over 200 human rights academics and practitioners to the University of Edinburgh for the 2018 Association of Human Rights Institutes  (AHRI) Annual Conference on the 6-8 September 2018. The GJA holds the current Secretariat of AHRI in conjunction with the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law (CSHRL) at the University of Strathclyde. In this post, AHRI Chair and GJA Management Group member, Dr Kasey McCall-Smith, reflects on the three days.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Renewing Rights in Times of Transition: 70 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’. The conference began with Works in Progress sessions on 6 September followed by the launch of the Political Settlements Research Programme’s PA-X Peace Agreements database (PA-X). Professor Christine Bell delivered a public lecture entitled The Inclusion Project: Human Rights Dilemmas in the Negotiation of Peace Agreements, with a response from the UN’s Ian Martin, entitled A UN ‘Surge in Diplomacy’ in a World in Transition

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Hope Meets Expectation

This post is by Sarah-Jane Cooper Knock, and first appeared on the Security at the Margins (SeaM) blog. SJ is a Lecturer in International Development at the University of Edinburgh. Her current research focuses on magistrates courts in South Africa and asks what role they play in the negotiation of everyday security and justice.  In this post, SJ draws on her recent work on the everyday lives of informal settlement residents in South Africa. She is currently based in Durban, South Africa.  

As I walked into Solomon Mahlangu settlement, Sne was driving posts back into the ground to rebuild the walls that the Land Invasion Unit had torn down. Still visible on one of the remaining boards was a sprayed number, the ubiquitous sign across eThekwini that the municipality had registered the dwelling, ahead of upgrading. Sne’s home bore testament to contradictions of the South African state, which carries with it the promise of provision and violence.

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Why torture? Exploring our Perceptions of Torture, and What Causes It

In this post, our Communications Intern, Jee-Young Song, reports from the second day of the recent GJA-sponsored GREYZONE summer school.

26 June 2018 was the second day of the GREYZONE Summer School, and starting the day’s session was Danielle Celemajer, Professor of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the University of Sydney. Titled ‘The worlds that produce torture’, the main question put to us was:

“What causes torture?”

The straightforward answer to this would of course be obvious: doesn’t torture occur because a malignant perpetrator decided to inflict such an act on the victim?

However, this is an over-simplistic approach, as Professor Celemajer professed her view that there is in fact a complex map of causality for torture, with many contributory factors which extend beyond the scope of the individual perpetrator.

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Complicity, Elitism and Storytelling: Exploring Moral Ambiguity in Times of Injustice

In her second post for this blog, GJA Communications Intern, Jee-Young Song, reflects on the recent GJA GREYZONE Summer School keynote session on ‘Conceptual Perspectives’.

The Summer School kick-started on Monday the 25 June, the theme this year being ‘Navigating the Grey Zone: Complicity, Resistance and Solidarity’.The following is from the ‘Conceptual Perspectives’ talks, where expert speakers from the fields of human rights, philosophy, and political theory (Ruth Kelly, Charlotte Knowles and Lukas Slothuus, pictured above) each gave their unique insight on the key issues.

Storytelling as a way to reinforce human rights

First to speak was Ruth Kelly, who focused on the potential for narrative to help communities articulate approaches to the development of human rights. To give an example of such artistic intervention, she showed footage taken at a poetry workshop in Uganda, where a woman recites a poem about struggling to choose between action and complicity, entitled ‘Should I stay? Should I go?’.

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Global Justice Academy Spring School: Using Critical Discourse Analysis in Community Settings

In April 2018, the GJA sponsored its first ‘Spring School’ in a collaboration with Moray House School of Education. In this post, Spring School Co-organiser and GJA Management Group member, Dr Callum McGregor, reflects on the Spring School’s innovative community-university partnership, which fostered strong links with local organisations and social justice practitioners. It is hoped that a similar Spring School will run again next year. Callum is also the programme director for the online MSc in Social Justice and Community Action, which is sponsored by the Global Justice Academy.

The Global Justice Academy (GJA) is an institutional forum for dialogue with practitioners engaged in justice issues locally and globally. This short blog highlights one such example of local dialogue, in the form of a series of community-university workshops on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). CDA is a form of critical social research, whose purpose is to analyse the ways in which language can be used to both reproduce and challenge social injustice. Discourses can be thought of as representationsof various aspects of our social lives. These representations are made up sets of rules and statements that determine whatcan be expressed within a particular context, howit can be expressed, by whom and under what conditions. Discourses are important because they have real material effects on the distribution of burdens and benefits along different axes of inequality.

Between April and May 2018, three workshops were held, with the purpose of bringing together community practitioners, community-based adult learners, activists, students and academics to learn together about CDA. Specifically, the workshops focused on how CDA can be used creatively to link education to social action, through addressing the interests and struggles of ordinary people in communities.

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Justice and Resilience: the Reality of Rohingya Women Refugees

This post is by Jee-Young Song. Jee-Young has joined the Global Justice Academy as our Communications Intern over the summer break, as part of the University’s Employ.Ed Campus Programme. Jee-Young is a rising third-year law student, reading for the LLB. In her second week in post, she went along to this IIF-funded meeting of the Bangladesh Studies Network, convened and ran by Lotte Hoek and Delwar Hussain from the School of Social and Political Science. Here, Jee-Young reflects on the key messages from the afternoon.

On Friday 8 June 2018, academics and other industry professionals gathered for the Bangladesh Studies Network Meeting. Various issues were discussed, ranging from the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster to the inevitable subject of the Rohingyan refugee crisis.

As part of the event, Jessica Olney, representative for a social justice NGO, delivered a public lecture titled ‘Concepts of Justice, Accountability and Resilience amongst Rohingyan Refugee Women in Cox’s Bazaar’ (pictured left).

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‘Hungry?’: Introducing Keris Heading’s Photography

Each year, the Global Justice Academy runs a photography competition as part of Edinburgh College of Art’s MA Photography degree programme. The 2018 competition was run in conjunction with the ERC Greyzone Project and its Summer School, ‘Navigating the Grey Zone: Complicity, Resistance, and Solidarity’. This post is the first in a short series of three, where we introduce this year’s winners, their images, and the stories behind their submissions

Series Winner: Keris Heading, ‘Hungry?’.

Q: What inspired your competition entry?

Working in a supermarket, I noticed the vast amounts of food that is wasted and thrown away, which encouraged me to research more about the exact figures of food wastage in large countries like the UK and US. The figures were astonishing. World hunger is a concept many people, or perhaps everyone, is familiar with, but perhaps it is the injustice in the distribution and usage of food that needs more attention.

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‘The Coming Soon Land’: Introducing Amber Brown’s Photography

Each year, the Global Justice Academy runs a photography competition as part of Edinburgh College of Art’s MA Photography degree programme. The 2018 competition was run in conjunction with the ERC Greyzone Project and its Summer School, ‘Navigating the Grey Zone: Complicity, Resistance, and Solidarity’. This post is the first in a short series of three, where we introduce this year’s winners, their images, and the stories behind their submissions

Single Image Winner: Amber Brown, ‘The Coming Soon Land’.

Q: What inspired your competition entry?

My concept of ‘The Coming Soon Land’ sprouted from the emotional disarray I found in observing a town undergoing change within development. Whilst the project grows from a frustration, the landscapes are in some sort of structural purgatory which I find aesthetically interesting, a grey zone that is not quite one nor the other, plans proposed but stuck in quicksand amidst a crisis concerning social and urban justice. Solidarity in this, comes from an accumulation of observed opinions which have been illustrated through my imagery. It feels a complex situation, one that is constantly progressing.

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‘Bridges Not Walls’: Introducing Isobel Budler’s Photography Series

Each year, the Global Justice Academy runs a photography competition as part of Edinburgh College of Art’s MA Photography degree programme. The 2018 competition was run in conjunction with the ERC Greyzone Project and its Summer School, ‘Navigating the Grey Zone: Complicity, Resistance, and Solidarity’. This post is the first in a short series of three, where we introduce this year’s winners, their images, and the stories behind their submissions

Commended Series: Isobel Budler, ‘Bridges Not Walls’.

Q: What inspired your competition entry?

I came across the ‘Bridges Not Walls’ conference through the organiser Nancy, who I knew prior to the project. She spoke to me candidly about the work they do within the school they are employed by, challenging stereotypes and educating young people on a range of topics.

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