Law PhD Candidate, Vivek Bhatt
In this guest post, Law PhD Candidate, Vivek Bhatt, reflects on Bryan Stevenson’s visit to Edinburgh Law School to give the 2019 Ruth Adler Memorial Lecture, and to receive an honorary doctorate as part of the School’s summer graduation ceremony.
Bryan Stevenson (c) Nick Frontiero Photography 2019
On 8 July 2019, the Global Justice Academy hosted a lecture by Bryan Stevenson, recipient of an honorary doctorate at the Edinburgh Law School. Stevenson is founder of the Equal Justice Institute (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, and a clinical professor at the NYU School of Law. Stevenson works as a legal representative for disadvantaged and marginalised individuals, particularly young and poor people who are on death row or serving life sentences. He and his colleagues at the EJI have achieved the exoneration or release of over 125 individuals on death row. Stevenson is also the author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, which was a New York Times bestseller and won the Carnegie Medal for the best nonfiction book of 2014.
Stevenson’s lecture circulated around a question that is as succinct as it is complex: how do we, as human rights advocates, address injustice? Firstly, he said, we must create justice by becoming proximate to those suffering inequality and injustice. Recounting his relationship with his grandmother, who wished that Stevenson would always be able to feel her embracing him, the skilful orator argued that we must know and seek to understand those who suffer injustice in order to affirm their humanity and dignity. Thus, human rights practice is not about the deployment of legal arguments from afar, but rather about stepping away from one’s legal expertise and embracing those who suffer violations of dignity.
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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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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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In this post, PSRP researcher Laura Wise reflects on symbolic representations of handshake moments at high-level peace summits, and what we miss when we consistently focus on comprehensive peace agreements. This is a longer version of remarks delivered at the IICR 2nd Annual Conference ‘Networked Cultures: Translations, Symbols, and Legacies’, as part of a session convened by the IICR Cultures of Peace and Violence Network. PSRP and the Global Justice Academy are proud members of this interdisciplinary network that enables discussions on how symbolic representations constrain or facilitate cultures of peace and violence, and we look forward to participating in future events.
Kim and Trump shaking hands on the red carpet during the DPRK-USA Singapore Summit on 12 June 2018
Handshake moments are currently a hot topic, as journalists rush to interpret the symbolism of the Singapore Summit between North Korea and the United States. From the diplomatic menu to the moment the leaders of each country make physical contact, no aspects of negotiation process are above being scrutinized for what they can tell us about the potential for achieving peace. Meanwhile, participants and commentators often hail the agreements themselves as historic and comprehensive even before crucial details of a done deal are released to the public, with parties keen to credit themselves as having achieved what no other figure has managed to do thus far.
Over twenty years ago, another high-level summit was capturing the world’s attention, as leaders from the former Yugoslavia and other interested parties gathered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, to negotiate yet another comprehensive peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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The University of Edinburgh’s research expertise on peace and conflict is growing fast, making it ever more important to connect and communicate across disciplinary lines. To this effect, a new blog series titled Rethinking Peace and Conflict Research in Edinburgh will foster exchange and make this ongoing research and its challenges more visible. Its aim is to build new interdisciplinary capacity and exchange around challenges and themes that connect experts working on peace and conflict across and beyond the University. » Read more
The Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh has been a key node of research on South Asia within the British academic landscape since 1988. Its success in the near three decades is largely due to the outstanding leadership provided by Professors Roger Jeffery and Patricia Jeffery in setting the Centre and steer it to be a leading centre for the study of South Asia in Scotland and within the UK.
While the Centre has benefitted from the stewardship of the Jeffery’s and other colleagues, such as Professor Crispin Bates and Jonathan Spencer, August 2015 marked a generational shift, with Drs Wilfried Swenden (SSPS) and Kanchana N Ruwanpura (Human Geography) taking over the helm. They are advised by a Steering Committee that draws in South Asia experts from across the School of Social and Political Science and all constituent Colleges in the University. To celebrate nearly three decades of South Asia research within the University of Edinburgh, the centre organised a ‘relaunch’ on 4 February 2016, which brought four distinguished academic guests to the University.
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On Friday 15 January 2016, the Global Justice Academy and the Centre for Security Research at The University of Edinburgh hosted a panel discussion on the Prevent Strategy obligations that have been placed on higher education institutions. GJA Student Ambassador, Rebecca Smyth, went along to the debate and outlines the debated arguments as well as her thoughts on this contentious issue in this guest post.
A thing of nothing or something more sinister? Under section 26 of the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act universities must “have due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.” The origins of this ‘Prevent’ duty, and its potential implications for staff and students, were considered at a panel discussion organised by the Global Justice Academy and Centre for Security Research last Friday. Chaired by Akwugo Emejulu, the panel comprised Gavin Douglas, Deputy Secretary of Student Experience here at the University of Edinburgh; Richard Jones of the School of Law; Genevieve Lennon of the University of Strathclyde Law School; Urte Macikene, EUSA Vice President of Services; and Andrew Neal of the Politics and International Relations department.
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A guest post from Lucas Miotto Lopes, Convenor of the Edinburgh Legal Theory Group, who received an award of £400 from the GJA Innovative Initiative Fund to host a seminar on ‘The Concept of Global Law’.
With the sponsorship of the Global Justice Academy the Edinburgh Legal Theory Group held the seminar entitled The Concept of Global Law on September 24th. Jorge Fabra, a PhD candidate at McMaster University, was the presenter and Professor Neil Walker, from the University of Edinburgh, acted as the discussant. We had the privilege of counting with a wide and diversified audience – from undergrads to staff members. Participants were keen to engage in discussion and offered both critical remarks and constructive feedback. As a result, discussion was very live, friendly and informal.
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This summer, the Global Justice Academy ran its first Summer School in conjunction with the School of Political Sciences, and the School of History, Classics and Archaeology. GJA Co-Director, Dr Mathias Thaler, reflects on the success of the three-day course, and plans to revise the Summer School for 2016. Dr Thaler also reports on initial forays into establishing a ‘Democracy Lab’ at the University of Edinburgh, following the launch of his new honours course on democratic theory.
- Summer School on Political Violence
From June 24 to 26, 2015, SPS organised a Summer School on political violence, in collaboration with the Global Justice Academy and HCA.
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In 2014-15, the Global Justice Academy launched its Urban Justice Lab. Based on the MIT-pioneered model to address global challenges, the Urban Justice Lab creates space for discussions and debates as well as collaborations in research, teaching, and outreach for university academics that study or operate on the city.
Dr Tahl Kaminer, GJA Co-Director (Urban Justice Lab), is a Lecturer in Architectural Design and Theory at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). One track of Tahl’s research studies the means of social amelioration via urban transformation. In 2014, students from the MSc programme in Urban Strategies and Design produced the Craigmillar Project Report – an extensive analysis of the Edinburgh neighbourhood, of the regeneration project, and of current conditions.
L-R: ‘Charlie’s Bus’ Craigmillar Festival playscheme Bus, historical photograph by Andrew Crummy; Craigmillar flats, photograph by David Flutcher; the White House in Craigmillar, photograph by John Lord.
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