Centre for Law & Social Change
Centre for Law & Social Change

Centre for Law & Social Change

A hub for connections on the topic of law and social change and a space to generate debate, between scholars, students, practitioners, and policy makers.

The Centre for Law and Social Change is a place for projects encouraging interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral and intergenerational collaboration, with a focus on progressive social change and a commitment to active anti-racist, feminist, and decolonial practice.

About us & Contact

About  us

In all areas of law scholars, practitioners and policy makers seek to generate positive change through law. Students with a commitment to social justice and human rights seek careers in law with the hope of defending the rights and interests of the vulnerable as against their oppressors. At the same time, both the limits of law’s emancipatory potential, as well as the role of law in structuring global inequality, have been noted and examined by critical legal scholars and practitioners alike.

The limits of, and obstacles to legal reform have been identified in various areas and, for example the potentials of accountability litigation are regularly explored, be it in areas such as universal jurisdiction or business and human rights. If law is to play a role in the transition to a fairer, more equal world it is clear that the ways, instances and methods for legal intervention require deeply engaged deliberation from all angles and contexts.

This centre seeks to be a hub for connections on the topic of law and social change and to create a space to generate precisely such debate, between scholars, practitioners, and policy makers and students alike. We will generate such debate in public events, through publications in scholarly and practitioner journals, in depth research projects, legal interventions and mainstream media.

Contact the Centre for Law & Social Change

City, University of London
Northampton Square
London
EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom

Media

Our members have an international reputation in their specialist fields. Please contact the Press Office if you would like to speak to one of our experts about a specialist area of legal research.

Members

Co-directors

Dr Grietje Baars

Dr Grietje Baars Grietje Baars works on the role of law in society, using queer and Marxist theory to understand (and ultimately subvert) the constitutive, ordering and ideological functions of law. Having worked on the political economy of international law, and law's gendering separately, in their latest project, Queering Corporate Power, they combine the two to discover how Queer theory (and practice) can help reverse the distributive effects of the corporate form, the 'motor of capitalism'.

Grietje has also co-edited, with Andre Spicer, The Corporation, a Critical, Multidisciplinary Handbook, a volume which has come out of the ESRC funded Critical Corporation seminar series (CUP 2017). In addition to these major projects, Grietje has written on the emancipatory potential of human rights law and the interconnectedness of liberation struggles.

At the City Law School, Grietje is the Module Convenor for LLB1 Foundations of Criminal Law and Further Issues in Criminal Law, and co-convenor of the Law of the European Court of Human Rights.

Grietje has supervised PhDs to successful completion in the area of corporate governance, and currently supervises PhD candidates working on law, race and literature, LGBT asylum practice and the interaction between law, gender and the market.

See Dr Grietje Baars's full profile


Dr Sabrina Germain

Dr Sabrina Germain is a Senior Lecturer at the City Law School, a member of City University’s Centre for Healthcare Innovation Research (CHIR), and a research associate at the Canada Research Chair in Collaborative Culture in Health Law and the Policy and the Health Hub: Politics, Organisations and Law (University of Montreal, Canada). She is also the Society of Legal Scholar (SLS) co-convenor of the Health Law section.

Dr Germain’s research interests are in the field of healthcare law and policy and bioethics. She focuses on questions of distributive justice (resource allocation and access to healthcare services) and the role of medical professionals in the healthcare law making process.

Her current research projects include a study on 1) the role of medical professionals in shaping healthcare law during COVID-19 in England, 2) a comparative project on the role of the medical profession in Canadian and British healthcare reforms, and 3) an analysis of inequalities in access to healthcare for ethnic minorities and migrant women during the COVID-19 pandemic with Dr Adrienne Yong (City).

See Dr Sabrina Germain's full profile


Sandhya Drew

Sandhya is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is a Visiting Professor of Employment Law on the University of Paris Nanterre’s Joint Masters Degree in French Law and Common Law.

At City, Sandhya leads the Judicial Review Elective and Advocacy Submissions on the Bar Vocational Studies course. She also convenes Employment Law on the LLB. She has taught across City's law courses, including Civil Litigation, Drafting, Civil oral and written Advocacy, Opinion Writing and Employment Law to Bar students, and Employment Law and International Human Rights Law to LLB students.

She has contributed a chapter on Work and Human Rights to the 2020 edition of Pitt's Employment Law. And is currently engaged on a joint project with Professor Sarah Bros of the University of Paris Dauphine on supply chains and fundamental rights.

See Sandhya Drew's full profile


Dr Diana Yeh

Diana Yeh is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Culture and the Creative Industries in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at City, University of London.

Diana's research interests lie in race and racisms, migration, diaspora, youth and cultural politics, with a particular focus on constructions and contestations of British Chinese and East Asian identities. She has conducted multi-sited fieldwork on the politics of identity and belonging among Chinese migrant artists in light of their translocal histories across Britain, South Africa, Italy, China and Taiwan.

See Dr Diana Yeh's full profile


Suzana Rahde Gerchmann (Research Student)

Suzana's research focuses on gender pricing and its structural aspects. It aims to understand how it is related to law, gender and capitalism.

Suzana is supervised by Dr Grietje Baars and Dr Sabrina Germain and wants to contribute to the legal scholarship in understanding the role of law (or the limits of law) in liberation. She is inspired to challenge everyday injustices. Above all, she wants to do her part in social change.

See Suzana Rahde Gerchmann's full profile


Purity Ajoko (City SU BAME Officer and LLB Student)

Purity Ajoko is a third year LLB international student from Canada. She is also the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Student’s Officer. Her focus this year is to address and tackle issues affecting BAME groups, all forms of racism, promote inclusivity and individual engagement.

During Black History Month, she attended the Student Union’s ‘Decolonizing City’ panel talk event where she and other panelists discussed what decolonization means and how City University should be decolonized.

As a woman of color and a law student herself, she knows first-hand what it feels like. She is a committed member that wants to drive social, academic, and structural change in the law school, and is hoping to do so with the help of BAME LLB students.


Dr Mazen Masri

Dr Mazen Masri joined the City Law School as a lecturer in September 2013. He has previously taught at the University of Toronto and York University in Toronto, Canada.

Mazen's areas of teaching and research are constitutional law and public international law with special interest in comparative constitutionalism, constitutional theory, human rights law and equality. Mazen's scholarly work explores the interaction between law and broader social, political and economic questions. His current research explores the role of settler-colonialism in shaping law. In addition to law, Mazen has an interest in the theory and practice of academic freedom.

See Dr Mazen Masri's full profile


Members

Dr Swethaa Ballakrishnen

Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen is a socio-legal scholar whose research examines the intersections between law, globalization and stratification from a critical feminist perspective. Particularly, across a range of sites and different levels of analysis, their work interrogates how law and legal institutions create, continue, and counter different kinds of socio-economic inequalities. Together, these motivations have resulted in three main areas of empirical inquiry.

The first is a set of interrelated projects that analyze gender inequality and representation through the lens of comparative legal institutions. The second concentrates on inclusivity in global legal education and the resultant implications for organizational diversity within the legal profession. A third emerging field of interest focuses on transnational migration and its implications for intergenerational mobility, international human rights, and transnational family law.

Scholarship from these projects has appeared in, among other journals, Law and Society Review, Law and Social Inquiry, Fordham Law Review, International Journal of the Legal Profession, and the Journal of Professions and Organization. Their first book, Accidental Feminism (Princeton University Press: 2021), unpacks the case of unintentional gender parity among India’s elite legal professionals; a second book Invisible Institutions (Hart Publishing: 2021, ed. with Sara Dezalay) brings together cross-subjective perspectives on legal globalization; and a third forthcoming book Gender Regimes and the Politics of Privacy (Zubaan Books, with Kalpana Kannabiran) investigates the gendered legacies of India’s privacy jurisprudence.

See Dr Swethaa Ballakrishnen's full profile


Dr Hannah Franzki

Hannah Franzki is a researcher at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Peace and Conflict Studies (INTERACT) at Free University Berlin, where she oversees a project that is concerned with the legal construction of corporate responsibility and the way it shapes our understanding of violence in a global capitalist economy.

Before joining the Free University, she was a post-doctoral researcher at the School of Law at Bremen University, Germany. Hannah studied politics and international law in Marburg (Germany), Montevideo (Uruguay) and Warwick (UK). She holds a PhD from Birkbeck College/University of London. Her wider research interests include critical legal theory, Walter Benjamin, philosophy of history, international political economy, and postcolonial theory.

See Dr Hannah Franzki's full profile on the INTERACT website


Amelia Spooner

Amelia Spooner is a PhD candidate in History at Columbia University specialising in the social and political history of law in the French empire. Methodologically, her work is informed by historical sociology and critical geography, comparative and transimperial histories, and theorisations of racial capitalism and social reproduction.

Amelia's dissertation looks at the legal and extralegal project to define and manage work and workers in French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion Island after the second abolition of slavery (1830s–1870s). It seeks to uncover how the regulation of "free labour" produced both marketable commodities and particular relations of domination: racialised, gendered, and classed divisions among workers across French colonial space.

See Amelia Spooner's full profile


Dr Alejandra Azuero-Quijano

Alejandra Azuero-Quijano is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Swarthmore College. Her work focuses on the anthropology of legal knowledge(s), particularly those produced through criminal detection, investigation, and prosecution.

Azuero-Quijano has written on the rise of new forensic practices at the Nuremberg Trials and is currently working on a project on the financialization of forensics in Colombia's political transition. She holds an SJD from Harvard Law School and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago.

See Dr Alejandra Azuero-Quijano's full profile


Dr Sophie Chamas

Sophie Chamas is a lecturer in gender studies at SOAS, University of London. Their research sits at the intersection of feminist and queer political theory, Middle East Studies, political economy, and cultural studies.

Their work is focused on the study of the life, death, and afterlife of the radical political imagination in the Middle East and its diaspora. Their research overall focuses on the consequences for activism and the political imagination of neoliberalism’s temporal effects.

See Dr Sophie Chamas' full profile


Dr Tanzil Chowdhury

Tanzil Chowdhury is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Public Law at Queen Mary University of London and the Co-Director for the Centre of Law and Society in a Global Context. His research focusses on Public law and Accumulation by dispossession. He was previously a Research Fellow at Birmingham Law School, where he assisted on a report examining key provisions of Gibraltar’s 2006 Constitution for the Territory’s Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Reform, and was the President’s Doctoral Scholar at the University of Manchester.

He was also a Research Associate at the University of Essex and has held visiting positions at the New School, (New York), New York Law School (New York), Hong Kong University (Hong Kong), Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris), Yeshiva University (New York City), and the Université Catholique de Lille (Paris).

Having previously written on war powers, constitutionalism in the British Overseas Territories, and recently completed a monograph titled ‘Time, Temporality and Legal Judgment’ (which attempts to articulate a novel account of judicial fact construction through legal temporalities). Tanzil’s latest research broadly focusses on Constitutions and accumulation by dispossession. Drawing on Marxist and ‘materialist’ methodologies.

Tanzil’s future work will examine the role of constitutions in so-called primitive accumulation both domestically and internationally. Tanzil has also contributed to public discussion and written several pieces on a range of issues primarily around issues of race and policing. He has a chapter in an edited collection ‘Abolishing the Police’.

Tanzil was a co-founder of the Northern Police Monitoring Project and helped set up the Greater Manchester Law Centre. He currently sits on the Board of Advisors for the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) and is an ad-hoc member of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust’s Rights and Justice Committee. He formerly sat on the National Executive Committee of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.

Tanzil previously worked in the Pro Bono Offices of Singapore’s Subordinate courts, and has spent much time on twinning and teaching projects in the Occupied Palestine Territories. He maintains a commitment to community-oriented and grassroots projects. Before beginning his job at Queen Mary, Tanzil spent a year as a development worker helping to set up the Greater Manchester Law Centre and was a co-founder of the Northern Police Monitoring Project.

See Dr Dr Tanzil Chowdhury's full profile

Partner institutions

Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context / Queen Mary University of London

Founded in 2013, the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context (CLSGC) is a home for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research into the global dimensions of law and society.

Find more about the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context

Centre for Gender Studies / SOAS

The Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS is an interdisciplinary space promoting research and teaching on gender and sexuality with particular reference to Asia, Africa, the Middle East and their diasporas. Since its inception in 2005, CGS has become a hub of research and training working to support anti-racist feminisms and social movements challenging normative constructions of gender and sexuality.

Find more about the Centre for Gender Studies

Centre for Research on Race and Law / Birkbeck

Launched in 2017, the Centre for Research on Race and Law brings together work in Birkbeck's School of Law and further afield on the conceptual and practical connections between race and law. Many other disciplines consider various issues through the lens of race, but it is much rarer for race to be used as an explicit analytical framework within the discipline of law.

Find more about the Centre for Research on Race and Law

Centre for Sexuality, Race and Gender Justice (SeRGJ) / Kent

The Centre for Sexuality, Race and Gender Justice (SeRGJ) advances critical and interdisciplinary research that is theoretically informed and policy-relevant. We are based in Kent Law School and membership is made up of interested academics and doctoral students based at the University of Kent.

Find more about the Centre for Sexuality, Race and Gender Justice

Centre for Law, Gender, Race and Sexuality / Westminster

The Centre for Law, Race, Gender and Sexuality adopts a critical, interdisciplinary and intersectional approach to legal scholarship which is theoretical as well as practical and grounded.

The Centre is committed to creating connections with and between researchers whose work is concerned with the interface between law and the body, and particularly in exploring the complex relationship between law, race, gender and sexuality.

Find more about the Centre for Law, Gender, Race and Sexuality

Centre for the Study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law / SOAS

Building on SOAS’s unique remit to develop research on the global south, the Centre for the study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law (CCEIL) is a hub for inter-disciplinary collaboration and research on public international law and its historical and contemporary relationship to colonialism and empire.

Find more about the Centre for the Study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law

Events & Recordings

Events

Brown-bag Lunch with Dr Nurfadzilah Yahaya

November 22nd, 12-2 pm, in the Boardroom, on the 6th Floor of City Law School (Sebastian St, London EC1V 7HD).

Nurfadzilah Yahaya is Assistant Professor in the History Department at Yale University. Her book Fluid Jurisdictions: Colonial Law and Arabs in Southeast Asia, published by Cornell University Press in 2020, touches upon the Indian Ocean, Islamic law, and mobilities. She is currently writing a book on the history of land reclamation in the British Empire. She has published in Law and History Review and other journals. She is also a co-editor of the Asia section of History Compass and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Journal of Global History and Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies.

You can find more about her work here and follow her tweets here.

Please join us in this great opportunity to discuss topics such as capitalism, colonialism, International Law and the Indian Ocean.

Don’t forget to bring your lunch.

You can find more information about our lunch here.


Fertile Ground: Interdisciplinary Conversations
Intersections Between Capital and Conflict in Latin America (or beyond)

This fall! Date to be confirmed.

Speakers:

  • Dr Alejandra Azuero, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropologie of Swarthmore
  • Dr Hannah Franzki, from the Center for Interdisciplinary Peace and Conflict Research at the Freie Universität Berlin

Chair: Dr Grietje Baars, Reader in Law & Social Change, City Law School


Fertile Ground: Interdisciplinary Conversations
Student-worker Collaborative Organising in the Neoliberal University

This fall! Date to be confirmed.

Speakers:

Chair: Dr Grietje Baars, Reader in Law & Social Change, City Law School


Fertile Ground: Interdisciplinary Conversations
Capitalism, Colonialism, International Law and the Indian Ocean

This fall! Date to be confirmed.

Speakers:

  • Dr Nurfadzilah Yahaya, Assistant Professor in the History Department at the National University of Singapore
  • Dr Fahad Ahmad Bishara, Associate Professor of History and Rouhollah Ramazani Professor of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies at the University of Virginia

Chair: Dr Grietje Baars, Reader in Law & Social Change, City Law School


The Present & Future of LGBTQ+ Liberation: International Trans Day of Visibility Event

5.30pm - 7.30pm Thursday 7 April 2022

Speakers:

Chair: Dr Grietje Baars, Reader in Law & Social Change, City Law School


Decolonising the LLB

5.30pm - 7.30pm Tuesday 5 April 2022

This conversation was facilitated by the City's Student Union BAME Officer Purity Ajoko, a 3rd year LLB student. Purity introduced the decolonisation topic and lead our session. Students presented their experiences and perspectives to understand how we can contribute to decolonising the institution.


Accidental Feminism: Gender Parity and Selective Mobility among India’s Professional Elite

5.00pm – 7.00pm  Tuesday, 30th March 2021

  • Speaker: Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen, University of California Irvine School of Law
  • Discussant: Dr Sabrina Germain, Senior Lecturer in Law, City Law School


Webinar: Human Rights, Poverty, and Capitalism: Exploring the Value of an Institutionalist Approach

5.00pm - 6.15pm  Wednesday 17th March 2021



The history of resistance to British racism

12 - 1pm  Thursday 25 February, 12-1pm (via zoom)

  • Speaker: Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper, research associate in applied sociology at the University of Greenwich. His research focuses on anti-racism and policing, both on Britain and in its colonies.
  • Discussant: Dr Grietje Baars, Reader in Law & Social Change, City Law School

Podcasts

Watch this space for our new podcast series coming soon!

Projects

Fertile Ground: Interdisciplinary conversation event series

Description:

The Fertile Ground: Cross-disciplinary conversations event series brings together scholars working on the same or closely related questions, but from different disciplinary perspectives. Through these curated encounters we hope to generate synergies inspiring new insights, discoveries, convergences, even break-throughs.

We pair scholars with anthropologists, historians, sociologists, literary scholars and more, and see what magic occurs! We strive to make these conversations cross-generational as well, including students, PhD researchers, professors and everyone in between, and welcome conversationalists from around the world. Would you like to be engaged in a cross-disciplinary conversation? Get in touch! CentreLawSocialChange@city.ac.uk

Decolonising the Law School

Description

On October 29th 2021, the Student Union organized a successful panel discussion about what decolonisation means and how city university should be decolonised.

The panellists, Bobby Banerjee (Associate Dean of Research and Enterprise of Bayes Business School), Diana Yeh (Associate Dean EDI at SASS), Purity Ajoko (Student’s Union BAME Officer), Shaima Dallali (Student’s Union President) gave their own account on what decolonization means to them and how City should be decolonised to better represent BAME students. This was a stepping stone for the institution as a whole, which started the fight for change across the university.

The Centre for Law and Social Change held an event on decolonising the Law School on 9 December 2021. This project is just a small fraction of this huge project. Our task is to ensure that BAME LLB students’ opinions for change are heard and for them to be put into action.

Decolonising the institution takes hard work and time, but with the knowledge and support from our students, we are confident that we will reach our goal. Get in touch if you would like to be involved!

Resources to start decolonising the law school now

Resources on specific law topics

City Library Guide

Some work by Foluke Adebisi

Resources for Students

Resources for Students

Coming soon