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09 August 2023

Law School hosts new summer research residence on equality, law and social justice

In June 2023, academics from Britain and across the world participated in The Dickson Poon School of Law’s first summer research residence, which explored the themes of equality, law and social justice.

Participants listening to someone speak in a seminar

The event, led by Professor Davina Cooper, was the first gathering in what is planned to be a biennial interdisciplinary event, addressing important and topical legal themes.

The three-week residence explored law’s evolving relationship to equality and social justice agendas, with the aim to share ideas, deepen and develop new understandings and build academic conversations across different intellectual perspectives. Participants from the fields of law, geography, philosophy and beyond took part in seminars and lectures on topics, led by Professor Cooper, Professor Ann Mumford and Dr Nicola Palmer that included:

  • Inequality and the different “faces” of oppression
  • Conceptualising equality and justice
  • Affirmative action
  • DIY social justice politics
  • Activist and arts-based academic entanglements
  • Prefiguring legal and political change

Over the course of the three weeks, a vibrant and enthusiastic community was formed involving academics across all stages of their careers, from PhD students, early career academics, and professors.

In the first of two public lectures that accompanied the residence, Professor Shirin Rai (SOAS) discussed her paper ‘Postcards to the Future: Struggles against Anticipatory Harm’, which examined the idea of depletion through social reproduction and anticipatory harm. Professor Rai examined the campaign of a community to protect its everyday way of life, through the story of communities of the Xolobeni area in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, whose world is threatened by mining.

Professor Sandra Fredman (University of Oxford) gave the second lecture, on the topic ‘Breaching the divide: A rights-based approach to economic inequality’, which discussed the right to substantive equality by piercing the putative divide between policy and law without overstepping the bounds of judicial legitimacy and competence.


Feedback from those who participated was positive, with participants enjoying the pace of the residence, which allowed for slow, deep thinking and wide-ranging and interdisciplinary discussions, as well as a supportive and collaborative atmosphere.

Plans are currently in the works to create an academic publication from the event. This emerged from participants who wanted to archivally represent the event and explore its value as an innovative academic forum.

In this story

Davina Cooper

Research Professor in Law & Political Theory

Ann Mumford

Professor of Taxation Law

Nicola Palmer

Reader in Criminal Law