New Event Series: The Human Rights Connection 2018


Working for Human Rights Under Threat in the UK,

and in a World of Rising Authoritarianism and Fascism 

The Human Rights Connection is a new series of events from Glasgow Human Rights Network, designed to connect people within Glasgow Human Rights Network by creating spaces to meet, talk and get to know one another’s interests and research, and also extending a welcome to all.

In the contemporary world, whether in the UK or globally, human rights cannot be taken for granted.  Those who believe in human rights need to come together and work together to support these universal ideals as a framework that enables us to live together.  The Human Rights Connection series offers events designed to be different from orthodox seminars, by creating accessible informal events with varying formats, involving active collective participation and discussion.  A central aim will be to enable participants to get to know one another and make new connections – intellectually and politically, for research and activism.   

Maps and access information are on the University of Glasgow website (  The venue is wheelchair accessible; for other requirements, please contact GHRN Co-Convenor Matthew Waites (, tel. 0141 330 4049).   


Event 1: 23 November 2018

Gramsci’s relevance for claiming human rights: how to apply the latest Gramscian insights to analyse your civil society context.

Matthew Waites, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Co-Convenor of Glasgow Human Rights Network

11.00am-12.30pm, Room 208, John McIntyre Building

Antonio Gramsci was a social and political theorist and activist focused on fighting fascism, which makes him an excellent place to start a new series of events in the contemporary world, for Glasgow Human Rights Network.  In this event I will deliver a quick summary of some central insights from Peter Thomas’ The Gramscian Moment (Brill, 2009), widely recognised as a cutting edge text in critical Gramsci scholarship.  I will explain how I have drawn on these to develop a flexible ‘Gramsci-sensitised methodology’ that is applicable to ‘civil society’ spaces where human rights are contested. A Gramsci-sensitised approach avoids isolating ‘civil society’ as an analytical object, instead focusing on three themes: 1. ‘Contextualisation’ – of civil society in relation to political society, economy and the full social structure; 2. ‘Consent/Coercion’, identifying where coercion is threatened or practiced alongside ‘the organisation of consent’; and 3. ‘Interpenetration’, focusing especially on the interplay between government and civil society.  Participants will be asked to choose any civil society context, such as from their research or practice; and to apply these three themes, to help think it through.  In small discussion groups, participants will share with their group their perception of their civil-society space, and how a Gramsci-sensitised approach might enable them to see it differently. Re-convening, the whole group will then have an open discussion of whether or how this enables us to re-conceptualise current struggles for human rights.                       


Event 2:  7th December 2018

Chantal Mouffe: An agonistic and pluralist approach to human rights

Yingru Li, Lecturer (Accounting and Finance), Co-Convenor of Glasgow Human Rights Network

11.00am-12.30pm, Room 506, Boyd Orr Building

As a continuation of the first event on Gramsci and his work, I think it would be interesting to look at Chantal Mouffe and her approach to global issues, such as human rights. Mouffe has made it clear, in her “Agonistics, Thinking the World politically”, that Hegemony and Social Strategy was an attempt to bring two theoretical underpinnings together: the poststructuralism offered by Derrida, Lacan, and Foucault; and Gramsci’s conception of hegemony (2013, p.73).

Some may wonder how Mouffe’s work relates to human rights. In particular, it is noticeable in her 2005 book On the Political that she explicitly argues against a view that we are now living in a “post-political” world, a world in which social theorists think problems of societies can be resolved by appealing to universal human values, consensus over liberalism, and human rights. Modern liberalism, according Mouffe, denies partisans. Nonetheless, in the paper that is attached—‘Democracy, human rights and cosmopolitanism: an agonistic approach’—she argues for an agonistic and pluralist approach to human rights. In this second event, we will be discussing about Mouffe’s view over politics and the political, through which we can then understand her position and attitudes towards human rights. We will also discuss the potential of applying her approach to concurrent human right problems.

There is a preparatory reading for this event which is:

Chantal Mouffe ‘Democracy, human rights and cosmopolitanism: an agonistic approach’, in:  Costas Douzinas and Conor Gearty, eds. 2014 The Meanings of Rights: The Philosophy and Social Theory of Human Rights.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

This reading will be circulated in advance, and please try to read it in advance if possible.  Email to obtain a copy.   


For questions or communications about The Human Rights Connection, contact GHRN Co-Convenor Matthew Waites (, tel. 0141 330 4049).


The Political Sociology of Commonwealth Civil Society 5th Feb 2019

A joint event of the Socialist Theory and Movements Network with Glasgow Human Rights Network: 

The Political Sociology of Commonwealth Civil Society: A ‘Gramsci-sensitised’ Critical Analysis of the London Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting as a Context for LGBTI Human Rights Claims

Matthew Waites, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Co-Convenor of Glasgow Human Rights Network   

Tuesday 5th February 2019, 5.15pm. Seminar Room, Lilybank House, University of Glasgow.  


A critical sociology of Commonwealth ‘civil society’ is offered through analysis of the London Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting of April 2018, in the conjuncture of Brexit Britain—leading to political conclusions.  A distinctive ‘Gramsci-sensitised’ methodological framework is used, drawing from the theoretical insights of Peter Thomas in The Gramscian Moment (Brill, 2009) to problematise ‘civil society’, while also referring to Foucault’s governmentality. The methodology investigates ‘civil society’ overall while focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights claims, by groups including The Commonwealth Equality Network.  Four contexts are analysed: the Commonwealth People’s Forum; social media (Twitter); UK and international newspaper media; and ‘London Commonwealth civil society’ outside formal forums.  The analysis juxtaposes Commonwealth ‘civil society’ with ‘the political’ from Mouffe and Honig (and originally Arendt), to propose a move from staged conversations to substantial dialogues between opposing voices, including some homophobic voices. This is how Commonwealth ‘civil society’ and LGBTI movements can respond to right-wing populisms in what Mishra calls the Age of Anger.     


Queer Muslim Challenges, seminar 13 Feb 2019

Queer Muslim Challenges to the Understanding of LGBT Rights: Decolonizing Human Rights through Intersectionality

Professor Momin Rahman, Sociology, Trent University, Canada

Sociology Seminar Series joint event with Glasgow Human Rights Network 

Wednesdays 4:00-5:30pm, 13 February 2019, Room 513 Boyd Orr Building  

This talk draws on the theoretical and methodological aspects of an ongoing research project on LGBT Muslims.  I have three main aims in the talk. First, I use intersectional analysis to deconstruct the assumed opposition between Muslims and LGBT rights. I focus on LGBT Muslim identities and experiences which disrupt the dichotomous positioning of mainstream Muslim and mainstream LGBT identities and politics. This move encompasses both a theoretical use of intersectionality and a related methodological approach to standpoint research.  The second aim is to move from theoretical inquiry to practical politics, relying here on the praxis element of intersectionality.  Using the interview data from the project, I demonstrate how practical strategies for equity practices derive from the critical theoretical frame of intersectionality. The final aim is to show how intersectional theories and methods can aid in decolonizing our knowledge of both LGBT and Muslim politics and move us towards a more practical deployment of human rights strategies that build solidarity rather directing us to think of oppression in one dimension.
About the Speaker: 
Momin Rahman is a Professor of Sociology at Trent University in Canada. His current research is on the conflicts between LGBT identities and Muslim cultures, and the experiences of LGBT Muslims, including a funded research project on LGBT Muslims in Canada.  He has presented this work at international academic conferences and at private policy meetings at the United Nations Human Rights Council and Wilton Park, the UK Foreign Office think tank.  He has published over 30 chapters and articles and 3 books: Homosexualities, Muslim Cultures and Modernity, (2014, Palgrave Macmillan), Gender and Sexuality (2010, with Stevi Jackson, Polity) and Sexuality and Democracy. 
Chair: Dr. Matthew Waites, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Co-Convenor Glasgow Human Rights Network 

The Contested Translation of International Human Rights Norms, 27 Feb 2019

The Contested Translation of International Human Rights Norms in the UK: Reconstructing the Prehistory of the Human Rights Act 1998

Dr. René Wolfsteller, University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany 

Sociology Seminar Series joint event with Glasgow Human Rights Network

Wednesday 4:00-5:30pm, 27 February 2019, Room 513, Boyd Orr Building

This paper takes the 20th anniversary of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) as an opportunity to critically examine the Act’s prehistory in order to illuminate the reasons for its persistent contestation. Drawing on Sally Merry’s legal anthropology of international human rights, it reconstructs the key factors from the postwar history of British bill of rights campaigns that led to the Act’s introduction in its particular form. Unlike the existing literature highlighting norm socialization, pressure from the judiciary and strategic lobbying from civil society groups as decisive factors for Britain’s human rights change, this paper argues that the HRA is the product of a translation process of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into the British constitutional structure. Yet, while the HRA was designed to formally preserve parliamentary sovereignty, this structural translation was not matched with a rhetorical translation of ECHR rights as fundamental domestic norms for the legitimate exercise of governmental power. This mismatch created a perceived gap in the HRA’s legitimacy and is part of the reason for its lack of public support. Therefore the paper concludes that the sustainable domestic institutionalization of international human rights requires both their structural and rhetorical translation, even in Western liberal democracies from which these norms originated in the first place. 
About the Speaker:
René Wolfsteller is Research Fellow and Academic Coordinator of the Graduate School “Society and Culture in Motion” at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. He completed his PhD in Politics at the University of Glasgow on the effectiveness of the British Human Rights Regime. His research focuses on the domestic institutionalisation and translation of international human rights norms, and on the role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in these processes. René holds an MA in Political Theory from the Universities of Frankfurt and Darmstadt, and a BA in Social Sciences, Philosophy, and Political Sciences from the University of Leipzig. He is co-editor, with Benjamin Gregg, of a special issue of The International Journal of Human Rights on “The Human Rights State in theory and deployment”, Vol. 21, No. 3 (2017): 
Chair: Matthew Waites, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Co-Convenor, Glasgow Human Rights Network  

PG Cluster: Media Practices of Movements in Chile, 7 March 2019

Glasgow Human Rights Network Postgraduate Cluster Talk

7 March 2019

David Jofré, University of Glasgow

12-1pm in Room 915 Adam Smith Building

Post-materialist mobilisation in a changing media ecology: Contrasting the media practices of environmental and LGBTI+ movements in Chile



Today’s media ecology is in constant change due to rapid technological innovation, which is reshaping how social movement organisations (SMOs) use the media. Researchers have coined the concepts of ‘media practices’ and ‘hybrid media ecology’ to describe how activists give new uses to a range of online, offline, mainstream and alternative media practices. They have mostly examined grassroots networks against socioeconomic inequalities in Europe and North America and democratisation uprisings in Arab countries. In contrast, post-materialist movement experiences in South America have received scarce attention. Moreover, existing research on post-materialist movements elsewhere has made broad generalisations about them, without accounting for differences between movement identities. This thesis aimed to address these gaps by studying Chile as a single country case study and comparing the practices of its environmental and LGBTI+ SMOs. It strived to understand better in what ways and for what reasons SMOs have created new media practices in this context, and why these practices have varied across different SMOs. Building theoretical insights from empirical data produced through semi-structured interviews with leaders and communication officers of 41 SMOs, and triangulations with documents, websites and social media accounts, the thesis has found that the Chilean environmental movement has not adapted to a changing media ecology to the same extent as the LGBTI+ movement. In fact, the LGBTI+ movement plays an ‘innovator’ role in relation to the development and spread of hybrid media practices among Chilean activists. Ideological, geographical and resource differences between these two movements were identified at the core of this important contrast in relation to mediated activist communications.

Speaker Bio

David Jofré is a PhD candidate in Politics at the University of Glasgow. His research focuses on social movements, activist media practices and today's media ecology in South America. David has postgraduate studies in public opinion and political communication, and for years worked as a newspaper journalist in Chile. Between 2010 and 2013, he was the Head of Digital Communications of the Foreign Investment Agency of the Government of Chile. This experience gave him a good insight into PR and organisations' communication strategies.


Zara Porter, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, 21 March 2019

Glasgow Human Rights Network Postgraduate Cluster Talk

21 March 2019

*Note change of room from that previously advertised* 

12-1pm in Room 540a in Adam Smith Business School, West Quadrangle, Main Building, University of Glasgow 

Zara Porter, Communication and Public Affairs Officer - Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC)

Zara's talk will focus on the work of the NIHRC, current human rights issues both in Northern Ireland and the wider UK, her role at NIHRC, and how she came to work in a human rights organisation. Her presentation will be followed by a short Q&A session. 



Zara has been Communications and Public Affairs Officer  at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission since 2017, and worked with the Commission since 2015. Her role is diverse, overseeing the Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum; developing work and partnerships on sport and human rights; engaging with press to highlight the Commission's work; and assisting with research. Completing her Undergraduate degree in History and Film & Television Studies at the University of Glasgow in 2013, Zara later studied for her Masters degree in Human Rights and Criminal Justice at Queen's University Belfast - where her thesis focused on combating human trafficking in Northern Ireland. Prior to working for the Commission, Zara worked as a journalist.

The event is wheelchair accessible.  University of Glasgow maps, travel and accessability information is at the top of our events page, above. 

For any further access needs for this event please contact GHRN Co-Convenor     


Film: Not a Luxury. Period. PG Cluster 21 March 2019

21 March 2019

Postgraduate Cluster Event 

Film screening: Not a Luxury. Period

6pm in Room 915, Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow

Please join us in the screening of a film on period poverty made by a group of students for the MSc Media, Communications and International Journalism. The film focuses on the lack of legislation around the issue. Following the screening we will be joined by the film makers for a Q&A session. 

Overall contact for this event: Hannah Gracher

Access contact: GHRN Co-Convenor 

Human Rights and Business, panel at PSA Conference 17 April 2019

Human Rights and Business: Challenges for the Governance and Sustainable Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles

Panel 9.00-10.30am at Political Studies Association Conference, 17 April 2019

This panel will include three papers from four Glasgow Human Rights Network members: Prof. John McKernan and Dr Yingru Li; Dr Rene Wolfsteller and Dr Kelly Kollman.  

For full details see the conference website: 

Registration for the PSA conference will be necessary to attend.  

Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa, B Camminga, 8 May 2019

Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa: Bodies over Borders and Borders over Bodies.

4.00-5.00pm, 8 May 2019

Speaker: B Camminga, Postdoctoral Fellow, African Centre for Migration and Society, Wits University, South Africa.

Chair & Discussant: Matthew Waites, Co-Convenor of Glasgow Human Rights Network, University of Glasgow.    

Venue: Yudowitz Seminar Room, Wolfson Medical Building,

University Avenue, University of Glasgow.

B Camminga will speak on their ground-breaking book Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa: Bodies over Borders and Borders over Bodies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). The study is the first academic research study using interviews with African transgender refugees to provide critical analysis of their migrations from contexts across the continent to South Africa.  The book tracks the conceptual journeying of the term 'transgender' from the Global North - where it originated - along with the physical embodied journeying of transgender asylum seekers from countries within Africa to South Africa and considers the interrelationships between the two. 
The book is published in the Global Queer Politics series, co-edited by Jordi Díez, Sonia Corrêa, David Paternotte and Matthew Waites.  The event will comprise a presentation by B Camminga, followed by a discussion with Matthew Waites, then time for questions and discussion with the audience.    
This is a public event, all welcome.  The room is wheelchair accessible.  For further access requirements or other information/needs, contact Matthew Waites in advance (
There is a Facebook site to share this event: For Twitter publicity see @MatthewWaites  
Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa book cover


Human Rights Research Students Conference 16 May 2019

Human Rights Research Students Conference, 16th May 2019

Senate House, School of Advanced Study, University of London

This postgraduate research students conference is part of a conference series for those working on human rights issues, and was previously hosted by Glasgow Human Rights Network at University of Glasgow. The conference series is a collaboration, co-convened by the Human Rights Consortium at School of Advanced Study, Glasgow Human Rights Network, and the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. 

The conference website is here, including a Call for Papers seeking abstracts up to 350 words to by 28th Feb 2019: 

The conference organisation is being led by Dr Corinne Lennox, Co-Director of the Human Rights Consortium. 

Glasgow Human Rights Network encourages postgraduates to submit abstarcts and participate.  

Transgender: Intersectional/International Conference 28-29 May 2019

Transgender: Intersectional/International Conference 28-29 May 2019

Glasgow Human Rights Network is a partner organisation of the Transgender: Intersectional/International Conference which will be held on 28-29 May 2019 at the University of Edinburgh.

Glasgow Human Rights Network supports the human rights of transgender people.

The conference will be a space for analysis of how the human rights of transgender people can be claimed.  

Co-Convenor of Glasgow Human Rights Network Matthew Waites is a member of the conference organizing committee and can be contacted for details (  

Full details of the event and how to participate are on the conference website:

Prof. Todd Landman: Measuring Human Rights Masterclass 31 May 2019

Measuring Human Rights: A Masterclass

Professor Todd Landman, FRSA (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham) 

Glasgow Q-Step event with Glasgow Human Rights Network 

10.00-12.00am, Friday 31st May 2019   

Humanities Lecture Theatre, Room 255, Main Building, University of Glasgow 


As part of Q-Step Glasgow’s Annual Celebration Event, Glasgow Q-Step with Glasgow Human Rights Network present a Masterclass by Professor Todd Landman, FRSA, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham.


Measuring Human Rights

The masterclass will provide participants with an overview of the progress that is being made in the measurement and analysis of human rights, and will cover events data, standards data, survey data, and socio-economic and administrative data, as well as developments in the analysis of new forms of data relevant to human rights problems. The masterclass will provide concrete examples of application of data measurement strategies to real world human rights problems, including civil and political rights, social and economic rights, as well as the problem of modern slavery, which is a particular focus of our University’s Research Beacon of Excellence, the Rights Lab.


Professor Todd Landman, FRSA 

Landman, T. (2018) ‘Democracy and Human Rights: Concepts, Measurement, and Analysis,’ Politics and Governance, 6 (1)

Edwards, H., Landman, T., Kernohan, D., and Nessa, A. (2018), ‘Good Neighbours Matter: Economic Geography and the Diffusion of Human Rights’, Spatial Economic Analysis (February): 1-19.

Todd Landman and Edzia Carvalho (2017) Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics: An Introduciton, 4th Edition, Oxford and London: Routledge.