Publication of the week: Professor Susan Edwards

23 March 2015

Edwards, S., “‘Ethnicity’ matters: Part 2: ‘ethnicity’ legally constructed”, Family Law 2015, 45(Feb), 158-166

This, the second part of a two-part article on ethnicity in adoption and child placement arrangements within the UK and between jurisdictions, highlights the diversity in markers defining ethnicity and illustrates through a review of case law how the choice of ethnic markers is influenced by the socio-political context in which they are framed. The article considers the significance gender can play in determining the outcome of cases in some jurisdictions.

Professor Edwards explores the diverse legal construction of ‘ethnicity’ in statute, in international human rights Conventions and in legal argument outside and within family law including the Genocide Convention of 1951, and the Refugee Convention of 1951. She examines the fluidity of the term and how meanings shift and are determined by the socio-political context in which understanding is framed. The article explores the application of the term in adoption and inter-jurisdictional custody proceedings and the way in which foregrounding race, religion, culture and custom and nationality and region etc. may carry with it heteronormative, heterosexist and masculinist configurations and the significance of newly revived claims of ‘birthright’ and ‘heritage’.

The full text of the article is available on University computers via Family Law Online.

Susan Edwards is a researcher and campaigner and a barrister (Door Tenant, 1 Grays Inn Square, London). She is an expert witness and member of the Expert Witness Institute.  She is Acting Dean of Law at Buckingham, and editor of the Denning Law Journal.