Human Rights Speaker Series: Social Class and Human Rights

  • Wed 3 Mar 21

    15:00 - 16:30

  • Online


  • Event speaker


  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Human Rights Centre Speaker Series

  • Event organiser

    Human Rights Centre

  • Contact details

    Law and HRC Events and Communications Team

Please join us for the latest Human Rights Speaker Series focusing on Social Class and Human Rights.   


Chair: Professor Colin Samson 

Dr Andrew Fagan

Title: Charting Unexplored Territory: Social Class Within Human Rights

The human rights community is increasingly concerned to promote social rights within high-income countries. These efforts will require an effective engagement with social class as an intersecting contributor to the poverty, discrimination, and marginalisation which afflict so many within affluent societies. Human rights’ engagement with social class will not be straightforward and will require significant conceptual and practical changes to the human rights project within high-income countries. Andrew’s presentation will identify and briefly consider some of the key challenges confronting a just and effective engagement with social class. 

Andrew was born and raised in a single-parent family in one of London's poorest neighbourhoods. He didn't complete his formal education and left school aged 14. After numerous twists and turns, he returned to education in his mid-20s as a mature student to secure a Bachelors' degree in Social Anthropology & Psychology. Andrew then proceeded to a Masters' degree in Political Theory and a PhD in Critical Political Philosophy. Andrew has taught human rights at Essex for over twenty years and he is the current Director of the Human Rights Centre. 

Dr Alpa Shah

Title: ‘Conjugated Oppression and Human Rights: The inseparability of class, caste, tribe, gender, region, religion.’

Drawing on lessons from India, I will explore why we need to think of class alongside race/caste/tribe, gender, region and religion in our analysis of human rights; why an analysis of conjugated oppression needs to be central to our research, writing and policy making. 

Alpa Shah is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and leads a research theme at the LSE International Inequalities Institute. Her most recent book, ‘Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas’, was awarded the 2020 Association for Political and Legal Anthropology Prize, was a finalist for the 2019 Orwell Prize and the New India Foundation Book Prize, on the longlist for the Tata Literature Live Nonfiction Book Award and featured on several 2018 Book of the Year lists from the New Statesman to the Hindu. Alpa Shah is also the author of ‘In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India’ (2010) and co-author of ‘Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in 21st Century India’ (2018). Alpa Shah is committed to public engagement and has featured on many occasions on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service.

Professor Emerita Geraldine Van Bueren 

Title: 'Taking Class Discrimination Seriously'

Professor Emerita Geraldine Van Bueren QC is an Hon. Senior Fellow at BIICL and a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford. She is a barrister and member of Doughty Street Chambers and was appointed an honorary Queen's Counsel in recognition of her contributions to national and international law. At the time of her appointment, there were fewer than ten women honorary silks. Professor Van Bueren is also a Bencher in the Middle Temple. She has served as a Commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission with lead responsibility for human rights and on the Attorney-General's International Pro Bono Committee. Professor Van Bueren is one of the original drafters of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

She has represented the United Nations in discussions with Iran; the Commonwealth Secretariat in Bangladesh and advised the Government of Japan and Unicef. She has also acted as an expert witness for the Government of Canada and has lectured and worked throughout Europe and the United States and in Argentina, Senegal, Uganda and Venezuela. From 2002 to 2006 Professor Van Bueren held a second concurrent chair the W P Schreiner Professor, Professor of International Human Rights Law at the University of Cape Town. Professor Van Bueren is Chair of the Association of Working-Class Academics, edited Law's Duty to the Poor for UNESCO and is one of a group of academics who together with non-governmental organisations are drafting an Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Act for the United Kingdom.  She is currently writing a monograph, 'Class and Law' (Hart) and a book for children on international children's rights together with Angelina Jolie for Amnesty International.

Professor Colin Samson

For most of his career, Colin Samson has been involved in examining the rights of indigenous peoples. He has worked with the Innu in northern Canada and also with Arapaho and Shoshone people at the Wind River Reservation in the US while he was a Visiting Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Wyoming in 2015-2016. Colin’s most recent writings branch out from this base to offer a sociological critique of human rights, linking exceptions to the textual rights to ongoing histories of enslavement, colonialism and imperialism. His latest book, The Colonialism of Human Rights: Ongoing Hypocrisy's of Western Liberalism (Polity, 2020) looks at non-universal human rights which have been embedded through the colonial process, the persistence of racist thought and manifest in contemporary iterations of imperialism such as the Windrush scandal, police violence against Afro-descended peoples, the treatment of formerly colonised populations in France, and ongoing confiscations of indigenous lands in North America. 

How to register

Please register your place here via Zoom

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