Themes and projects

Contesting Vulnerability


The Contesting Vulnerability theme analyses the multiple and complex relationships between law, legal processes, and vulnerability. It explores the forms and shapes of vulnerability defined, represented and conceptualised through the legal system and society, including the association between vulnerability and particular categories of individuals who experience social and political marginalisation and the nature of legal identities ordered around vulnerability.

We explore the use of law and legal processes to address vulnerability including:

  • the significance of discourses of vulnerability to necessitating,
  • humanising and
  • legitimising state intervention in the lives of marginalised individuals.


Our research questions how the legal system is authorised through its relationships to legal subjects on the basis of vulnerability.  We also question whether law and legal processes are themselves vulnerable.

Considering the implications of an analytical approach focused on privilege.  Such an approach signals attention to unearned privilege and advantage as well as marginalisation or vulnerability.  We are altered to the relationship between vulnerability and privilege and of the production of vulnerability by privilege, rather than approaching vulnerability as an inherent characteristic of ‘vulnerable’ people.  An approach focused on privilege considers how vulnerability is constructed in relationship to privilege, and how analysis and action shifts if we focus on privilege rather than (or as well as) vulnerability.

Questions of vulnerability, and related issues of marginalisation and incapacity, are emerging as key law reform and human rights issues in Australia, as well as in overseas and international jurisdictions.  To address this our studies engage broader questions about the political and social implications of law’s relationship to vulnerability.  We look at how different legal practices, for example law reform, public interest litigation and community legal education, address issues surrounding vulnerability, as well as how the legal system might generate vulnerability. We seek to ask what is gained and lost through framing social and political claims in appeals to the law in terms of vulnerability.

Ethical and practical concerns surrounding legal research and the responsibilities of researchers when approaching this research, particularly empirical or law reform driven research, also form part of our research agenda.

She speaks, but who hears? Australian women’s voices, listening, law reform

Professor Nan Seuffert, Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp, Dr Sarah Ailwood and Dr Rachel Loney-Howes

Women’s voices – of experience, as ‘speaking out’, as storytelling and as testimony – are drivers of law reforms that shape Australian society, both historically and currently, particularly in relation to violence against women. Women’s voices have challenged the exclusions, shapes and limits of the categories of Australian law and called for redress of newly named and recognised legal harms, capturing the attention of the public and demanding responses from legislators, institutions and the justice system. They have informed law reform from nineteenth-century married women’s property laws driven by the need for women to escape violent relationships, to the 2018 Tasmanian #letherspeak campaign.  This project aims to produce new knowledge regarding the dynamic relationship between women’s voices, how they are listened to and heard, and how they influence law reform, in three areas identified as Australian national priorities: domestic and family violence; sexual violence; and sexual harassment in the workplace. Through a focus on listening in the past and present, we trace whose voices have been heard, and who has been silenced, seeking to promote the inclusion of all Australian women in the substance and process of the law. 

Interdisciplinary law and society project 

Professor Nan Seuffert with Dr Scarlet Wilcock, University of Sydney and Dr Lyndal Sleep, Griffith University

This interdisciplinary law and society project is funded by the UOW Community Engagement Grant Scheme ($13k), in partnership Economic Justice Australia (the peak body for community law centres focussed on social security issues).  Its aims are threefold:

  • to generate a knowledge base of barriers to accessing social security faced by DV victims;
  • to produce a set of materials to be used to improve the information, support and advocacy that members provide to DV victims; and
  • to produce a report for use in advocating for policy reform.

Haunting National Boundaries: Refugee Law and Policy and Asylum Seekers who are Sexual Minorities

Professor Nan Seuffert 

Engaging with and developing postcolonial theory, this project analyses refugee law and asylum seeker policy in Australia in relation to ‘sexual minorities.’  It asks what a more concerted focus on colonial genealogies of ‘sexuality’ can bring to: 1) analysis of the stories of origin of international law; 2) the operation of concepts such as ‘discretion’ and ‘credibility’ in the jurisprudence determining refugee claims; and 3) critical understandings of Australia’s controversial asylum seeker detention policies and practices.


Seuffert, N  2017, Queering international law’s stories of origin: Hospitality and homophobia’ in D Otto, D (ed.) Queering International Law: Possibilities, Alliances, Complicities, Risks, Routledge, New York, pp. 213-235.

Best Practice Evaluation for an Integrated Domestic Violence Intervention Service

Professor Nan Seuffert and Professor Trish Mundy

Professor Nan Seuffert and Dr Trish Mundy have been engaged by the YWCA NSW to undertake an evaluation of the Domestic Violence Intervention Service (DVIS) based in Nowra and servicing the wider Shoalhaven region. The evaluation project is funded through the National Australia Bank (NAB) Community Impact Grants Program 2016. The research project develops and applies a best practice model for evaluating integrated domestic violence services. The DVIS is unusual in its crisis intervention model in that it is a community-based domestic violence service that is physically co-located within a police station. Its goals are to work closely with police, Domestic Violence Liaison Officers, police prosecutors and other key community based agencies with the aim of enhancing support and outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence. This project will have significant benefits for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence and will enhance knowledge of ‘best practice’ in the context of crisis intervention service delivery.

Crime and Society


Our research aims to encourage judicious use of the criminal law as public policy instrument and to promote programs and practices that ameliorate the potential for the criminal system to have unduly harsh effects that are also likely to be counterproductive in terms of overarching crime prevention and social cohesion objectives.

We explore the impact of the criminal law as a public policy and regulatory tool, and the operation of the criminal justice system and its constituent parts, including the police and the courts. Central concerns are whether the criminal law and the justice system meet the expectations of victims and the wider community, and the complex relationship between the criminal justice system and the marginalised and disadvantaged.

Public Space and Public Order

Professor Julia Quilter and Professor Luke McNamara

Public spaces are sites of both proliferating and increasingly complex regulation. Traditional public order criminalisation, for example offensive conduct/language, remains ever-present and controversial in its operation. These days, however, familiar criminal offences, enforced by the police, are accompanied by a diverse array of surveillance and regulatory mechanisms, in which other state agencies the private sector play a part. This project examines:

  1. the tension that exists between conceptions of public space as permissive, liberated and interactive environments and conceptions of public space regulation that focus on risk, safety, civility and amenity; and
  2. the nature and effect of the regulatory regimes that impact on the use of public space, focusing on the blurred boundaries between criminal and civil, and between legal and administrative practices.


Quilter J & McNamara, L 2013, ‘Time to Define “the Cornerstone of Public Order Legislation”: The Elements of Offensive Conduct and Language Under the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW)’, University of New South Wales, 36, no.2, pp. 534-562.

Responding to Alcohol-Related Violence

Professor Julia Quilter

Through a case study of the aftermath of the killing of Thomas Kelly in King’s Cross in 2012, this project examines the motivation, form and effects of government responses to the problem of alcohol-related violence. In particular it explores the tension that exists between the need for nuanced and enduring policy responses to a complex social problem, and the expectation that the criminal law should punish harshly individual perpetrators of violence.


Quilter, J 2013, ‘Responses to the Death of Thomas Kelly: Taking Populism Seriously’, Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 24, no.3, p.439-448.

Re-inventing Rape

Professor Julia Quilter

This project examines how the legal category of rape was “invented” during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by rewriting older property and marital laws.  The project utilises post-structuralist theorise on ‘sexuality’ and ‘truth’ and, in particular, Foucault’s genealogical methodology.


Quilter, J 2011, ‘Re-framing the Rape Trial: Insights From Critical Theory About the Limitations of Legislative Reform’, Australian Feminist Law Journal, vol.35, no.1, pp.23-56.

Disability, Diversion and Criminal Law

Dr Linda Steele

This project is an interdisciplinary theoretical and empirical examination of the legal frameworks for the diversion of people with cognitive impairment and/or mental illness from the criminal justice system. The project has a particular focus on the social and political implications of diversion both for people with cognitive impairment and/or mental illness in the criminal justice system and for the criminal law common law jurisdictions. The project develops a theoretical framework for analysis of diversion which draws on analytical tools from a diverse range of disciplines (Foucauldian theory, critical legal and political theory and critical disability studies) and then applies this framework to a specific case study – a close interdisciplinary theoretical and empirical analysis of the diversionary scheme in Australia’s largest common law criminal jurisdiction (diversion pursuant to section 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 (NSW)). This case study serves as the  ‘entry point’ for broaching wider concerns about criminal law and disability, to tell a story about the wider effects of diversion on criminal law and disability, and about the capacity-related foundations of western legal systems. The project also considers the implications of the analysis of diversion for key concepts in social justice for people with disability such as anti-discrimination, legal capacity, social inclusion, deinstitutionalisation and community support.


Steele, L 2020, Disability, Criminal Justice and Law, Routledge.​

Steele, L 2016, 'Diversion of individuals with disability from the criminal justice system: control inside or outside criminal law?' in C. Ashford, A. Reed & N. Wake (eds), Legal Perspectives on State Power: Consent and Control, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.309-342.

Law and Humanities


The Law and Humanities theme of the Legal Intersections Research Centre is engaged in research which uses the humanities to think critically about law, legal interpretation, legal practice and concepts of legality and justice, and the foundations of law itself.  The theme’s pathbreaking work has led to the creation of and marking out of new fields of research, including listening projects in law, hashtag jurisprudence, cultural legal studies and theatrical jurisprudence. This work draws on the breadth of the humanities, from popular culture (tv, film, comics, superheros) the humanities more broadly (language, semiotics, media and communication, literature, biography, history, theatre, visual art, cultural studies, legal theory and jurisprudence), to the development of entirely new ways of approaching law through playtext and literature, along with the conventional forms of monograph, article and commentary.


Our Law and Humanities research is fundamentally directed towards the overarching concern of social justice through seeking to expose the gaps and limitations inherent in conventional accounts of the law.  In this sense, the research undertaken is unique, as an integration of the theoretical with the practical, and empirical research with techniques derived from a range of disciplinary homes. 

The Law and Humanities theme hosts one of the key journals in the field, Law Text Culture, and recent managing editors of the journal are members of the theme, as well as serving as members of its board. Members are active in organisations and associations in the field in Australia and internationally, including the Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia, the US Association for Law Culture and the Humanities and related organisations including the Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand

Hashtag Jurisprudence: Narratives of Terror and Legality on Twitter 

Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp

This project experientially speaks to a particular moment in time, when stories of insecurity were (and still are) provoking anxieties about law, and fuelling desires for particular forms of justice. Utilising empirical analysis, the project seeks to offer a theory of law that binds together the experience of terror, the encounter of legality, and the expression of emotion all within the narrative forms of social media. Using terrorism as a case study, the project explores key global terror events as provocative for individuals to express their responses spontaneously, immediately and emotionally on social media.


Sharp, C Forthcoming, Hashtag Jurisprudence: Narratives of Terror and Legality on Twitter, Edward Elgar. 

She speaks, but who hears? Australian Women’s Voices, Listening, Law Reform

Professor Nan Seuffert, Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp, Dr Sarah Ailwood and Dr Rachel Loney-Howes

Women’s voices are critical to understanding gendered harms and reforming legal wrongs in Australia, from the colonial period, through the reforms of second-wave feminism, to the present. This new project aims to produce new knowledge regarding the dynamic relationship between women’s voices, how they are listened to and heard, and how they influence law reform, in three areas identified as Australian national priorities: domestic and family violence; sexual violence; and sexual harassment in the workplace. Through a focus on listening in the past and present, we trace whose voices have been heard, and who has been silenced, seeking to promote the inclusion of all Australian women in the substance and process of the law.


Women Voices, Listening and Law Reform: How does law reform listen? (currently under development).

Copyright Law and Literary Culture in Colonial Australia

Dr Sarah Ailwood and Associate Professor Maree Sainsbury (University of Canberra)

This project investigates domestic, imperial and international copyright law in colonial Australia. It explores contemporary understanding, usage and practice regarding copyright protection, and the influence of copyright law on authors, publishers and readers within the broader context of literary culture in colonial Australia. It is supported by a Curran Fellowship 2019-2020, awarded by Research Society for Victorian Periodicals

To investigate colonial copyright law in the Fairfax Media Business Archive, State Library of NSW.


Ailwood, S and Sainsbury, M 2014, ‘The Imperial Effect: Literary Copyright Law in Colonial Australia’, Law, Culture and the Humanities, vol.12, no.3, pp.716-40.

Ailwood, S and Sainsbury, M 2014, ‘Copyright Law, Readers and Authors in Colonial Australia’, Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, vol.14, no.3.

Ailwood, S and Sainsbury, M 2019, ‘An Old Law for a New Literature: Authors, Publishers and the Early Years of the Victorian Copyright Act 1869’  Law, Culture and the Humanities

Theatrical Jurisprudence

Associate Professor Marett Leiboff

Marett Leiboff has marked out this new field of jurisprudence. Her path-breaking work draws on the insights of theatre theory to reclaim the body from law’s valorisation of the word. The theatrical reminds us that our actions and responses exist in the moment, rather than the narrative account of our conduct that the law prefers.


Leiboff, M 2019, Towards a Theatrical Jurisprudence, Routledge, New York.

Global Challenges Seed Grant for ‘Hashtagging Terror and Hate: Citizen Responses on Social Media’ ($13000) 

Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp with Dr Shoshana Dreyfus, Dr Tracey Woolrych, Dr Peter Leeson, Dr Kate Tubridy and Yvonne Apolo

This collaborative project aims to develop an interdisciplinary methodology to analyse people’s attitudes to and expectations of government policies and actions in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks. In the moments following terror attacks, citizens take to social media to share their personal responses in which they articulate ideas about national identity, immigration and race. Indeed, citizens are often much more openly critical in times of heightened emotion. In response to the terror event in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand 2019, which sparked significant national interest regarding the impact of culturally motivated terrorism on everyday lives, this project seeks to comment on public perception of the legitimacy of government policy/action during such crises. It involves collaborators from law, psychology, linguistics and business as well as PhD students.  

Jane Austen, Gender and Jurisprudence

Dr Sarah Ailwood

This project explores Jane’s Austen novels as forms of feminist jurisprudence within the context of the late eighteenth-century and Romantic era. Building on my book Jane Austen’s Men: Rewriting Masculinity in the Romantic Era, the project situates Austen’s novels in relation to the prominent feminist philosophers of the day, including Catharine Macaulay, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays. The project investigates how, through fiction and specifically the genre of the novel, Austen similarly seeks to highlight, protest and reform women’s legal status, by reforming both masculine and feminine genders from within the courtship romance plot.


Ailwood, S 2020, Jane Austen’s Men: Rewriting Masculinity in the Romantic Era, Routledge, New York.

Ailwood, S 2021, ‘Austen, Masculinity and Romanticism’, The Routledge Companion to Jane Austen, ed. Frawley M and Wilson, C, Routledge, New York.

Ailwood, S 2021, ‘Jane Austen, Feminist Legal Philosopher’, Jane Austen and Critical Theory, ed. Kramp, M, Routledge, New York.

Ailwood, S 2021, ‘Austen’s Men, Immortality and Intertextuality’, Special Issue of Romanticism: The Immortal Austen, ed. Dooley G and Parisot, E.

Defining the Field: Cultural Legal Studies

Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp, Associate Professor Marett Leiboff and D r Luis Gómez Romero

This project set out to name the field of cultural legal studies, and to investigate how law is shaped by the popular cultures in which it exists. The project has produced a foundational collection edited by Cassandra Sharp and Marett Leiboff, which includes a significant contribution by Luis Gómez Romero, as well as contributions from other key scholars in the field. 

This project began to take shape through a Cultural Legal Studies Methodologies Symposium, Law and Popular Cultures Theme, Legal Intersections Research Centre, Friday 21 September 2012, University of Wollongong organised by Cassandra Sharp and funded by the Legal Intersections Research Centre.


Contributing to a new handbook in the field due to be published in 2021-2022, including Cassandra Sharp, Marett Leiboff, Dr Luis Gómez Romero and Dr Ryan Kernaghan.

Gaming Justice: Video Games and the Political Construction of Legal Pluralism

Dr Luis Gómez Romero

This project will analyse the explicit or implicit political or legal ideals represented in the normative frame of five very popular narrative video games: Grand Theft Auto; L. A. Noire; Heavy Rain, Red Dead Redemption and Batman: Arkham City. Its aim is to diagnose the cultural disillusionment with contemporary discourses that found the State’s political legitimacy and justify the criminal justice system. This research will therefore undertake a thick jurisprudential reading of narrative video games, placing the legal discourses embedded in them in a comprehensible and meaningful jurisprudential frame for the first time. The research will a) provide a jurisprudential perspective on the legal assumptions and the critiques of law and justice deployed in the medium; b) critically evaluate their political programme and social ideals; c) reconsider the connections between legal discourses and broader forms of cultural expression; and so d) advance both methods and theories in law and cultural studies.

Gómez Romero, L. “Gaming at the Margins of Law or, Niko Bellic’s (Critical) Theory of Justice.” Paper in progress.

The Myth of the Big, Bad Narco (and Its Legal Consequences) across the Mexican-American Border

Dr Luis Gómez Romero

Myths are symbolic narratives by which every human group conceives its relations to its own distant past, locates itself in the course of history, and presents itself to the outer world. In this sense, myths are narratives that validate social, political and legal codes of conduct, rather than purely fictional or irrational stories. Myths create worlds and, no less important, legitimize and harmonize the worlds they give birth to. Mexican sociologist Luis Astorga suggests that the global War on Drugs is one of such worlds that have emerged from myth. Astorga characterised an American-driven myth of all-powerful and dangerous Latin American narcos who aim relentlessly to defile the extremely porous and vulnerable U. S. borders. The unfathomable depravity of narcos, the myth claims, can only be contained through extreme state violence. The narco myth is fuelled by two correlated cultural codifications on the material activity of drug trafficking itself. These codifications are, first, the legal provisions that mandate and enforce the prohibition of drugs; and, second, the narratives (such as narcocorridos, crime drama television series or films) that address drug trafficking in terms of absolute good and evil.

The extremism of narco narratives and the extremism of legal drug prohibitionism are mutually implicated – they constitute one another and legitimize each other. Walter Benjamin wrote that ‘the great criminal has aroused the secret admiration of the public’ not because of ‘his deed but […] [because of] the violence to which it bears witness.’ This project will argue that it is the myth of Latin American narcos, rather than the illicit activities undertaken by flesh-and-bone drug traffickers, what has transformed them into great criminals. The project will therefore challenge the legal institutions that have made possible the ongoing hecatomb known as Mexican Drug War (2006-?) by culturally questioning the American-framed narco mythology.


Gómez Romero, L 2019, “Cartel Kingpin El Chapo is jailed for life, but the US-Mexico drug trade is booming.” The Conversation, July 19. 

Law, Health and Feminism

Dr Macarena Iribarne

Dr Macarena Iribarne projects explore questions of law, health and feminism at the intersections of gender and culture. Her projects include investigating mental health and its normative implications for identity and liberty in the context of jurisprudential and legal discourses around gender, age and sexuality. 


Iribarne, M and Seuffert, N 2018, 'Imagined Legal Subjects and the Regulation of Female Genital Surgery' The Australian Feminist Law Journal, vol. 44, no.2, pp.175-201.

Public (mis)trust in government and the law: an analysis of social media posts in the time of COVID19. 

Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp with Professor  Kieran Tranter (QUT), Dr Shoshana Dreyfus and Dr Tracey Woolrych

This project aims to conduct the first comprehensive study of Australian public responses to law and democratic governing during the global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using an innovative multi-disciplinary method to analyse social media commentary related to COVID-19, the project expects to create new knowledge about how perceptions of law and democratic governing are constituted in contemporary Australian culture. Expected outcomes include a new framework for understanding the critique evident in public reactions to government responses and policy development. The project will have benefit for Australian policy makers by creating insight into how diverse communities experienced and responded to their actions during this crisis.

Women’s Life Writing and Law

Dr Sarah Ailwood

This project investigates women’s life writing, via a range of textual forms, in response to law and justice. Drawing on published and unpublished women’s life writing from the early eighteenth-century to the present, Sarah Ailwood explores relationship between women’s legal and textual subjectivities from the birth of modernity to the digital era. Situating women’s legal life writing within the legal archive, and historically within the development of genre, media and textual form, this project reveals both the value of women’s life writing to uncovering women’s legal histories, the influence of law on the development of genre (particularly published life writing and the novel), and the influence of life writing on the development of law itself.


Ailwood, S. ‘Legal stardom: law, life writing and celebrity in the case of Mary Bowes, Countess of Strathmore’, Making Stars: Biography and Eighteenth-Century Celebrity, ed. Straub K and Nachumi N (University of Delaware Press, forthcoming 2021)



Legal Ethics, Culture, Practice and Professionalism


We engaged in research which considers the cultural, ethical and educational dimensions of lawyering and legal practice. With an emphasis on empirical methodologies, the research carried out by members of the theme includes exploration of gender issues in the legal profession as well as rural, regional and remote legal practice contexts.


Its members are also engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly as it relates to student transition, professional identity construction, learning and teaching in the first year of law and law student wellbeing. More generally, its members are involved in research relating to the teaching of ethics, professionalism and lawyering skills within legal education.

Achieving Gender Diversity in Australian Law Firms: Best Practice

Professor Nan Seuffert and Professor Trish Mundy

This collaborative pilot research project, between the Women Lawyers Association of New South Wales and the Legal Intersections Research Centre, investigates current best practice initiatives on gender diversity in large Australian law firms. The project investigates initiatives that support women lawyers in advancing to partnership and other leadership positions. Four of the top-achieving national law firms in Australia on gender equity criteria are engaging with many of the best practice initiatives for diversity and inclusion recommended by the current national and international research and scholarship. What is apparent, however, is that the current best practices internationally have yet to achieve significant advancement of women, or to break through the glass ceilings for women that continue to operate. We argue that achieving significant progress on gender diversity in law firms will require reshaping law firm practice and partnership model, and that collaborative projects between the profession and academics, with a focus on synergies between the competencies and diversities movements, provide the greatest potential for this realising this goal.


The report on this project titled ‘Advancement of Women in Law Firms: Best Practice’, was recently launched in Sydney by the Hon. Justice Jane Matthews AO This pilot project is intended to provide the basis for a larger research project in 2018.

Seuffert, N, Mundy, T & Price S 2017, ‘Diversity policies meet the competency movement: towards reshaping law firm partnership models for the future’, International Journal of the Legal Profession, vol. 25, no.1, pp.31-65.

Attracting and Retaining Lawyers in Rural, Regional and Remote (RRR) Communities

Professor Trish Mundy

This project explores a range of topics connected to RRR legal practice contexts, with an overarching agenda of investigating the opportunities, challenges and strategies associated with attracting and retaining lawyers in our regions. Most recently, this has included doctoral research exploring the lived experience of female lawyers practising in RRR communities and the ‘imagined experience’ of female final year law students. Through phenomenological and narrative methodologies, the research seeks to understand the ways in which socio-cultural constructions of gender in ‘rural’ ‘space’ and ‘place’ might transform or impact women’s practice experience in RRR communities and their relationship to the attraction and retention of women in RRR practice. It also seeks to increase understanding of the role that ‘imagination’ and cultural constructions of the ‘rural’ play in framing or informing the career choices of final year law students.


Mundy, T 2011, ‘Insights into Gender, “Rurality” and the Legal Practice Experience'Deakin Law Review, vol. 16, no.2, pp.430-460. 

A Lawyer’s Character: Is There a Moral to this Story?

Karina Murray

PhD commenced April 2012  Supervisors: Assoicate Professor Cassandra Sharp and Associate Professor Chris Barker.

“Character” is a term used in a number of areas of law as well as across a number of professions. For those aspiring to practise in law, the profession requires the applicant be of “good character”. This project asks the questions: how do the law, the profession and the community define the “character” of a lawyer? It takes a cultural legal studies approach to analyse whether there are specific values or morals that demonstrate “character” (or a lack of).

The Power of Stories in the Transformation of Identity and Ethics Among Law Students

Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp

This project uses an empirical and interdisciplinary methodology, blending law and cultural studies, to explore the influence of popular culture on legal education.  This project offers a new scholarly perspective on how law students use representations of law in popular culture to create and construct identity and ethical meaning.


Sharp C  2011, ‘“Represent a Murderer…I’d never do that!” How students use stories to link ethical development and identity construction’ in M. Robertson et al (eds), The Ethics Project in Legal Education, Routledge, London, pp.33-51.  

Taking the Profession out of Professional Responsibility

Karina Murray

Upon entering law school, students often receive the message, ‘you need to start thinking like a lawyer’. Yet alarmingly, research shows that lawyers (and law students) suffer stress, anxiety and depression at a rate significantly higher than the general population. These projects seek to review the traditional approach to legal method and make useful links between ‘legal decision making’ models and ‘ethical decision making’ models.


UOW Legal Intersections Research Centre Small Grant (2012): ‘Why teaching ‘legal ethics’ doesn’t create ‘ethical lawyers’: taking a ‘mature’ approach to ethics instruction’.


Murray, K 2014, 'A book-end approach to ethics: the increasing importance of incorporating ethics into the first-year curriculum' in L. Wolff and M. Nicolae (eds), The First-year Law Experience: A New Beginning, Haststead Press, Australia, pp. 71-82.

Towards a Pedagogy of ‘Place’ in Legal Education

Professor Trish Mundy

This project examines the role of undergraduate legal education in preparing law graduates for practice in rural and regional Australia. In particular, it seeks to explore a theory and pedagogy of ‘place’ and the ways in which ‘place consciousness’ might usefully be integrated and supported within the classroom environment and law curricula more generally.


UOW Legal Intersections Research Centre Small Grant (2013): ‘Towards a Pedagogy of “Place” in Legal Education’.


Mundy, T 2012, ‘Placing’ the other: final year law students’ ‘imagined’ experience of rural and regional practice within the law school context,  International Journal of Rural Law and Policy, vol.2, (Special Edition), pp.8-17.

Legal Internships as a “Capstone”: The UOW Experience

John Littrich

Many tertiary institutions in Australia and internationally have recognised the value of providing students with a subject or experience toward the end of their studies that acts as a “capstone”: bringing together the knowledge and skills acquired in their discipline studies and preparing them for the workplace. This project looks at legal internships, in particularly the mandatory internship undertaken by LLB students at UOW and, through information provided by students and internship providers assesses the value of such programs as a ‘capstone’ experience for law students and its role in shaping professional values. 

Taking Hints from Hogwarts: UOW’s First Year Law Immersion Program

Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp, Karina Murray and Professor Trish Mundy

This is a group project which brings together a number of academics within the first year program and LIRC. It uses an empirical and interdisciplinary methodology, blending law and cultural studies, to explore the influence of popular culture on legal education.  This project offers a new scholarly perspective on how law students use representations of law in popular culture to create and construct identity and ethical meaning.


Sharp C, Bond M, Mundy T, Murray K & Quilter J 2013, Taking Hints from Hogwarts: UOW’s First Year Immersion Program, Journal of Australasian Law Teachers Association, vol.6, no.1/2, pp.127-139.

Legal Transpositions


The legal transpositions theme considers how law appropriates, interprets and transposes the knowledges from other disciplines and from the accidental forms of knowledge held by individuals and within cultures and societies, with consequences that matter for both law and justice. The theme deals with disjunctures in cultural and legal meanings and how such disjunctures play out in legal processes. It examines how the law’s own particularistic logic, which may clash with the inner logic of other discourses, reconstitutes meanings significant for the social world beyond.


Work by the scholars in this theme involves the re-reading and reinterpretation of texts and the rendering of knowledge in a legal setting, and its consequences, both now and in the past.  It includes the examination of decision-making in difference realms and according to different criteria, a some decisions of the social world become legal and others do not.  It also encompasses investigations within law itself, such as explorations into the nature of evidence and the formal indicia according to which opinion, fact and perception are adapted for use by the law; and the ways that law filters and interprets the discourse of other disciplines for its own purposes and through its own practices and logics.


Administrative Justice in the UN: Procedural Protections, Gaps and Proposals for Reform

Dr Niamh Kinchin

Niamh Kinchin is currently writing a book that considers what administrative justice might look at beyond domestic legal spaces.  When decisions made by public authorities affect a person’s rights and interests there is an expectation, in democratic societies at least, that the administrative processes used to make those decisions are carried out according to law and in a way that society considers ‘just’.  In short, we have come to expect administrative justice.  Within the domestic context, administrative justice commonly manifests as normative standards for administrative decision-making and review (both administrative and judicial).  More broadly, it may refer to accountability oversight mechanisms such as Ombudsmen, anti-corruption bodies and freedom of information legislation.  But what does administrative justice mean beyond the domestic context?  How are procedural rights to be protected and accountability to be ensured in the fluid, evolving and fragmented sphere of global governance?  The book, which will be published by Edwards Elgar Publishing UK, considers these questions within the context of the United Nations.


Kinchin, N 2016, ‘UNHCR and the complexity of accountability in the global space’ in K B Sandvik and K L Jacobsen (eds), UNHCR and the Struggle for Accountability: Technology, Law & Results-Based Management, Routlegde, New York, pp.26-45 

Kinchin, N 2016, ‘The Implied Human Rights Obligations of UNHCR', International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 251–275

Expert Evidence in Family Law Parenting Proceedings

Dr Felicity Bell

There is significant ongoing debate about the appropriate contribution that “expert” evidence should make to the resolution of disputes over the parenting of children. Felicity Bell’s research examines the ways that lawyers both utilise and challenge expert evidence in parenting proceedings through the deployment of ‘common sense’ or forms of practice knowledge. In this way, expertise is selectively transposed into legal discourse and decision-making.

Legal lives and legal interpretation

Associate Professor Marett Leiboff

Marett Leiboff has been working on a number of projects that investigate the consequence for legal interpretation based on the lives lived by lawyers – and how this affects legal outcomes, the readings made of case law, and the assumptions made about the law handed down to us over time.


Leiboff, M 2016, ‘Theatricalising Law in Three, 1929 – 1939 (Brisbane)’, Law Text Culture, vol. 20, no. 1, Special Issue Lives Lived with Law, pp.93-135.

Leiboff, M 2016, 'The Good Old Rule, the Catspaw and a Two-Headed Baby', In D.Carpi & M . Leiboff (eds), Fables of the Law:  Fairy Tales in a Legal Context, De Gruyter, Germany, pp. 187-208

Social Justice and Global Forces


In the era of globalisation, the notion of social justice is often influenced by the way the concept is understood in international forums. Whilst the world has witnessed an increase of global trade, commerce, capital and financial services in the last few decades, it has also experienced an increase of injustices at the international level that has produced more inequality between rich and poor nations, and between the rich and poor within many nations. At the same time, growing disparities among countries have affected the way interests of certain groups and developing countries in general are represented in global forums, a problem that has contributed to creating greater inequality and vulnerability in local and national communities. International institutions controlled by affluent countries and international agreements negotiated under the direction of powerful business lobby groups have created a set of ‘rules’ that have influenced the formulation of national policies in a great number of matters, favouring the protection of free trade and free movement of capital over the reduction of social inequalities. As pointed out by a report of the United Nations (UN), social justice requires coherent policies in a multitude of areas orientation to the overall social goal of promoting the welfare of a nation’s citizens and, in the age of globalisation, the citizens of the world.

This theme encompasses research that critically examines the legal and political dimensions of social justice in a global context and the challenges posed by global forces. It also aims to contribute with the discussion about strategies to achieve the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), including reducing inequalities within and among countries; and promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

The Human Rights Principle of Indivisibility

Dr Dorothea Anthony

This project is a monograph based on Dr Dorothea Anthony’s PhD dissertation. It presents an analysis of the meaning, application, and idealogical significance of indivisibility, which is a major principle of international human rights law stating that all rights are equally important and connected. Although indivisibility informs a great deal of human rights theory and practice across the world, it has so far largely eluded explication and critique. Some research has investigated interpretations of indivisibility that existed prior to the popularisation of indivisibility at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993. The current work, however, examines the principles as it has been used for ideological purposes in contemporary times, in bridging a significant gap between international human rights law and politics.


Anthony, D 2019, ‘The World Conference on Human Rights: Still a Guiding Light a Quarter of a Century Later’, Australian Journal of Human Rights, vol.25, no.3, pp.411-427, DOI: 

Technology, Displaced? The Risks & Potential of Artificial Intelligence for Fair, Effective & Efficient Refugee Status Determination

Dr Niamh Kinchin

Human vulnerability is at the core of refugee status determination (RSD) and human rights provides its regulatory frame, so to speak of AI within the refugee context may seem troubling at least, dystopian at worst. But the rapid development of AI in government decision-making will unlikely be slowed by such ethical quandaries. The potential integration of automation, machine learning and algorithmic decision-making into global migration regulation and policy has far-reaching implications for refugee law and the consequences for efficiency, legality, accountability, transparency and human rights warrant a timely and critical conversation about the possible impact of existing and future AI technologies on RSD.

Predictive analytics, biometrics, automated credibility assessments and algorithmic decision-making are analysed through a lens of 'risk and potential', which is measured in terms of 'fair, efficient and effective' RSD. The opportunities that AI offers for efficiency and effectiveness in RSD are compelling. Faster data processing, the ability to undertake high-volume, repetitive tasks, increased consistency and up-to-date information, a capacity to plan for workloads and predict movements and the potential to 'design out' existing biases, promise to deliver positive outcomes for asylum seekers. But the risks of integrating AI in a decision-making process that is defined by human vulnerability loom large. The lack of transparency in algorithms may result in a denial of procedural fairness and algorithmic bias continues to be a vexing issue. If refugee and human rights are denied, international protection may be compromised. Technical and contextual issues may increase the potential for error, and unanswered questions remain around legality.

Administrative Justice in the UN: Procedural Protections, Gaps and Proposals for Reform

Dr Niamh Kinchin

The UN’s capacity as an administrative decision-maker that affects the rights of individuals is a largely overlooked aspect of its role in international affairs. This project explores the potential for a model of administrative justice that might act as a benchmark to which global decision-makers could develop procedural standards. Applied to the UN’s internal justice, refugee status determination, NGO participation and the Security Council, the global administrative justice model is used to appraise the existing procedural protections within the UN administrative decision-making.


Kinchin, N 2018, Administrative Justice in the UN: Procedural Protections, Gaps and Proposals for Reform (Part of the ACUNS Series on the UN System) Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, UK.

A New World of Constitutional Imagination: On Constitutions in the Americas

Dr Luis Gómez Romero

This project will analyse the constitutions enacted since 1776 in the Americas as multiple yet intersecting imaginary worlds. The Americas were first imagined as a new world. Constitutions imagine how to create worlds of power and liberty too. The project will thus shape two perspectives on constitutional imagination. First, it will look at the texts, sources and histories on the vibrant constitutional discourses in the region. Second, it will excavate new sites for the study of constitutions as they are brought to life by myths, stories, popular culture and art.

Contract and Colonisation in the Age of Modernity

Professor Nan Seuffert

‘Contract and Colonisation in the Age of Modernity’ is the first study to investigate the connections between modern contract law and the formation of settler colonial societies in Australia and New Zealand. It investigates how contract law and ideas such as individualism, freedom and consent, developed in those societies. It asks whether, and how, contract law and these associated ideas became integral to what it means to be an ‘Australian’ or a ‘New Zealander’ today. Significantly, it places this analysis within a trans-colonial and transnational perspective, analysing how contract laws and ideas circulated among settler colonial societies in the British Empire. The resulting book and other scholarly publications will highlight complex exchanges across colonial sites, rather than movement from the centre to periphery.

The Law of Wrath or, the Resurgence of the Legal Myth of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

Associate Professor Gabriel García and Dr Luis Gómez Romero

In an age of skyrocketing consumerism, the unremitting popularity of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s manly features has ensured the durability of his significance as a critical cultural symbol and a political myth around the world. Guevara remains today a universal icon of leftist radicalism and revolution. Even though Guevara’s understanding of Marxism is deeply rooted in the appalling social injustices of Latin American contexts, it has gone beyond its geopolitical origins and played a major role on the stage of world history. In the upsurge of several recent protest or revolutionary movements –like Occupy or the Arab Spring– we can still find traces of ´Guevarismo.’ Nonetheless, his political and legal thought is still under-researched. This project is aimed to fill this gap by critically examining Guevara’s works and: a) provide a jurisprudential perspective on the legal assumptions and the critiques of law and justice deployed in Guevara’s thought; b) critically evaluate Guevara’s political program and social ideals; and c) reconsider the processes of legal globalization by assessing the reception of Guevara’s legal thought in Venezuela. The expected outcome will shape how wrath multiplies legal violence and develop new methods for the legal and cultural analysis of globalization.


2014 URC Small Grants Scheme. 

Economic Inequality After the Global Financial Crisis: A Gender Analysis

Professor Nan Seuffert 

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC), increasing economic disparity and ‘austerity’ policies responding to fiscal imbalances all impact on women and children, and particularly indigenous women and women of colour, as well as other vulnerable members of society, disproportionately.  Indeed, the World Bank estimated in 2009 that the GFC had driven 50 million people into extreme poverty, mostly women and children.  The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2013 identified increasingly severe income disparity as the global risk most likely to manifest in the next ten years, and major systemic financial failure as the risk most likely to have the highest impact if it were to manifest; chronic fiscal imbalances appeared at the top of the risk rankings in both likelihood and impact.  These issues were considered at a Bilkura at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law at Onati, Spain, and are the focus of a forthcoming edited special issue of the IISL Journal, co-edited by Professor Seuffert.  Her article in the journal Law, Culture and the Humanities is also part of this project.


Seuffert, N 2013, 'Occupy, Financial Fraternity and Gender Ventriloquism', Law, Culture and the Humanities, vol.10, no.3, pp.380-396, DOI: 10.1177/1743872112466711.  

A Portrait of Herod’s Law: Rafael Cauduro’s Murals at Mexico’s Supreme Court Building

Dr Luis Gómez Romero

Globalization theory has arrived in an arbitrary and uneasy way to the assertion of the implementation of the rule of law as a universal condition of legal modernity. This pretended universality of the rule of law, however, is not mainly referred to the observance of human rights and institutional democratization, but also to neoliberal economic rectitude. Such account of globalization favors specific imperial interests while neglects the hierarchies of the current world system, as well as the asymmetries among so-called core and peripheral societies. In Mexico, for example, the rule of law has been both historically flawed and politically precarious. Mexican popular culture thus mirrors and procreates a defective rule of law whose pathologies can be summarized through the popular saying that defines the Mexican legal system as La Ley de Herodes (Herod’s Law): “O the chingas, o te jodes” (“you will either be screwed up, or fucked up”). Rafael Cauduro’s murals in Mexico’s Supreme Court building offer a display, rare inside a courthouse, of law’s failings that is closely related with the Mexican popular representations of law and justice. Completed in 2009 as a part of the Bicentennial of Mexican Independence celebration, the murals greet visitors with graphic details of “The Seven Major Crimes of Justice,” including rape, homicide, torture and police repression. While visually denouncing specific pathologies of the Mexican legal system, Cauduro’s murals also address the two necessary conditions for the existence of any complex legal system that were identified by H. L. A. Hart. Firstly, ordinary citizens must generally obey legal rules. Secondly, officials must regard legal rules as common standards of behavior and critically assess their own and each other’s deviations. The placement of Cauduro’s murals in the Supreme Court’s building bespeaks of a universal conflict that potentially haunts each and every legal system: the divorce between officials and citizens or, to put it in plain terms, between law and society. This research project will therefore probe into art and images as key elements in the representations of public life and legal systems, in order to throw new light on the broader ethical and cultural discourses that analyze and criticize the inner tensions of the rule of law in globalized contexts.


Gómez Romero, L 2013, 'Mexico, Law and Development: Lessons from an Unlucky Country', Paper presented in Legal Intersections Research Centre Discussion Panel on “The Critical Turn in Law and Development in Latin America: A Review of the Current State of Affairs (2000-2013).” School of Law, University of Wollongong, 23 October, 2013. 

Surviving Covid-19 and Political Turmoil: Challenges and Opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean

Associate Professor Gabriel Garcia

When Covid-19 landed in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in 2020, governments in the region were already struggling to attain the SDGs. Chronic institutional weakness and inequalities exacerbated economic, social and political problems and contributed with the merciless transmission of Covid-19 across the Americas. Due to the pandemic, experts fear that LAC may suffer another lost decade (2015-2025) and predict the region will need support from international financial institutions (e.g. the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) to recover and meet the goals set by the United Nation’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This project examines the economic, social, political and international context that existed in LAC at the beginning of 2020 and explores challenges and opportunities the Covi-19 pandemic has created for the Americas, including the role international financial institutions may play in the recovery.

IMF Conditionality and Stand-by Arrangements

Associate Professor Gabriel Garcia

This project explores effects of IMF stand-by arrangements on legal systems of developing countries by reviewing the programs sponsored by this institution in Asia and Latin America in the 1990s. The project has been recently extended to study the IMF’s intervention in Greece.


NSW Law Society Legal Scholarship Support Scheme, 2012.


Garcia, G 2016, ‘The Rise of the Global South, the IMF and the Future of Law and Development’ vol.37, no.2, Third World Quarterly, pp.191-208. 

Gabriel, G 2012, ‘Understanding IMF Stand-by Arrangements from the Perspective of International and Domestic Law: the Experience of Venezuela in the 1990s.’ Paper presented in Third Biennial Global Conference, National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law Centre for International Law, Singapore, 12-14 July 2012. 

Current IP Developments in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar

Associate Professor Gabriel Garcia

This project explores a range of current issues on intellectual property rights in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. This work is highly relevant considering the challenges faced by least developed country members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that must address a significant number of social problems and, at the same time, apply the standards set by the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) by July 2021.


Gabriel, G 2010, ‘Current Developments in Intellectual Property Law in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar’.  Paper presented at the Workshop on Recent Developments in Intellectual Property Law in Southeast Asia, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, 13-14 December 2010.

Transoceanic Connections: Trade, Investment and Assistance for Cooperation between Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean 

Associate Professor Gabriel Garcia

The twenty first century has been declared the ‘Asian Century’ with experts predicting the region will become the major contributor of global GDP. While the rise of Asia in the last fifteen years is apparent in terms of trade and investment, government officials and academics in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have shown little enthusiasm for understanding the implications of Asia’s economic progress. Using an interdisciplinary research approach that combines the methods and analytical frameworks of International Economic Law and International Political Economy, this project critically examines Asia’s international engagement with LAC for the promotion of social and economic development.


Visiting Research Fellow Grant, Institute of Developing Economies of the Japan External Trade Organisation (IDE-JETRO), Chiba, Japan (2018-19).


Garcia, G 2020, ‘A Review of China’s and Japan’s International Engagement in South America: the Cases of Brazil, Chile and Venezuela’  (IDE-JETRO, Discussion Paper Number 785, May). 

Garcia, G 2020, ‘Latin American and the Asian Century: A Comparative Analysis of Japan’s and China’s Engagement with their Latin-American Partners from an International Economic Law Perspective’ Iberoamerican Journal of Development Studies (DOI: 10.26754/ojs_ried/ijds.498). (Spanish).