Franciscan Building, Verney Park

Centre for Multi-Cultural Studies in Law

Introduction

The Centre for Multi-Cultural Studies in Law, which opened in 2001 under the joint directorship of Professor Susan Edwards and Visiting Professor Dr Mary Welstead, is located in the Law School at the University of Buckingham. The Centre’s ethos is based on a recognition that across all jurisdictions the study of law demands an understanding of how domestic law is shaped and developed in a multi-cultural society. The Centre encourages research taking a comparative approach in exploring law and multi-culturalism against the background of international human rights in an increasingly global world. The Centre’s approach is to examine the recognition, or lack of recognition, by legal institutions of the diversity of communities and their cultures and to consider how marginalised voices attempt to articulate their claims either by themselves or with the aid of an accepted elite.

The Centre encompasses a wide area of interests, research to date including religion, ethnicity, cultural practices, cultural heritage, property

Centre directors

Advisory committee

  • Visiting Professor and founder Dr Mary Welstead

Projects and publications of work

This project considers the limitations of the Treasure Act 1996 and its failure to protect many sites of archaeological interest, taking into account the interaction with other pieces of legislation. It considers both the criminal aspects of interference with heritage sites and the impact of finding property that comes within the definition of treasure on the ownership of property. These issues are illustrated and analysed in J Bray ‘The Law on Treasure from a Land Lawyer’s perspective’, [2013]

Explores a range of issues on gender including the use of cyber space in gender and terrorist recruitment, faith and dress rights, gender rights, and issues around gender and violence exploring international law, domestic crime and family law. See Susan Edwards‘ staff profile for more information about some of her projects, including:

  • “Cyber-grooming young women for terrorist activity: Dominant and subjugated explanatory narratives”  in E. Viano (ed.), Cybercrime, Organised Crime, and Societal Responses (Springer 2017), 23-47.
  • “Protecting children and vulnerable adults from witchcraft and spirit possession: related violence, victimisation and other harms”, International Family Law, Policy and Practice 4.3 (Winter 2016), 31-40.
  • (with Martin Downes) “Brides and martyrs: Protecting children from violent extremism”, Family Law (Sep 2015), 1073-1078.
  • “Protecting schoolgirls from terrorism grooming”, International Journal of Family Law 2015, 3.236-248.
  • “Proscribing unveiling – law: a chimera and an instrument in the political agenda”, in E. Brems (ed.), The Experiences of Face Veil Wearers in Europe and the Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 278-296.
  • “Stripping women – dress laws – burqas and headscarves”, Genusfokus, Sweden (16 March 2011).  See recording (7:33 to 25:38)
  • “For her own good! Criming the niqab”, International Family Law (June 2012), 203-8.
  • “Defacing Muslim women: dialectical meanings of dress in the body politic”, in R. Banaker (ed.), Rights in Context (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010), 127-147.
    Read about this article in our Publications Finder (8 November 2010).
  • “Imagining Islam … of meaning and metaphor symbolising the jilbab – R (Begum) v Headteacher and Governors of Denbigh High School”, Child & Family Law Quarterly 19.2 (June 2007), 247-268.

Dr Egede teaches and researches in International Oil and Gas Law and Environmental Regulation. She also researches in reproductive rights. Her doctorate, conferred by the University of Cardiff in 2017, addressed the reproductive rights of involuntary childless women in sub-Saharan Africa. She served as a member of the Social Science Study Group of the ESHRE Special Task Force “Developing Countries and Infertility”, has participated in expert meetings and conferences in reproductive health care matters and has published research child welfare and protection proceedings involving gender and reproductive issues: H Egede, “Shrouded gender and Reproductive Issues in Child Welfare and Protection Proceedings” [2011] DLJ 202-226

International Treaties, Covenants and Conventions acknowledge women’s rights as human rights. Yet women’s rights frequently take second place to culture. In affirming women’s rights, the law may, indeed very likely does, undercut or at least question cultural precepts, albeit sometimes cultural ‘norms’ found submissions for their relevance as mitigating factors in reducing murder to manslaughter, or in sentencing. Forced and arranged marriage, unlawful killings targeting women by reference to cultural diktat, and genital mutilation directly challenge women’s rights to freedom and bodily integrity. Culturally imposed dress standards raise questions of women’s freedom to choose how to dress, what to wear, and where or how to wear it. In a multicultural society, how does the law respond? In affirming cultural rights as having a place in a multicultural society, does the law take into account the unequal measure of power women exercise not only within a culture and a community, but in determining the ground rules of culture? The Women’s Rights, Human Rights & Cultural Intersections Project addresses these questions by reference to developing law, women’s socio-political role in communities and the greater society, and international affirmations of women’s rights as human rights. See: JA Scutt (ed.), Women, Law & Culture – Conformity, Contradiction & Conflict, 2016 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan); JA Scutt, “Human Rights, ‘Arranged’ Marriage and Nullity Law; Should Culture Override or Inform Fraud and Duress?” (2014) Denning Law Jrn 62-97

Dr Sargent’s research focuses on the breadth as well as depth of arenas where issues of cultural heritage are of great importance. Dr Sargent has published research articles and presented research papers on issues of culture and cultural heritage, pointing out the wide ranging  areas in which the safeguarding of culture and cultural heritage can occur: from the rights of children in adoption, to the provision of health care for children, to the rights of indigenous peoples in international human rights law. Dr Sargent’s ongoing research focuses on differing aspects of horses as part of intangible cultural heritage, in the context of which she participated in a seminar at the Stanford Archaeology Centre in May 2014.  Dr Sargent is the convenor for the SLSA annual conference stream on Minority and Indigenous Rights. Recent publications include ‘Classical Horsemanship and the Dangers of the Emergent Intangible Cultural Heritage Discourse’ (2016) 11 International Journal of Intangible Heritage 35.

Seminar, lecture and conference programme

The Centre organises seminars, lectures and conferences. It welcomes applications from students who wish to undertake post-graduate research degrees at both master’s and doctoral level. Colleagues from the UK or overseas are welcome to spend time as visitors at the Centre and either engage in their own research or collaborate with Buckingham Faculty on projects of mutual interest.

Past events:

Playwork Practice Conference for the Journal of Playwork Practice Convened by Jocelynne Scutt November 5 2016 Conference on the right to play as central to Children’s Rights.

A lecture by Dr Giselle Yasmeen delivered on February 11 2016 (accompanied by Oluwatoyin Solomon). Convened by Jocelynne Scutt.

A series of perspectives introduced by The Honourable Jocelynne Scutt on Wednesday 22 April 2016. Convened by Jocelynne Scutt.

Speakers:

  • Professor Susan Edwards, Dean of Law Pragna Patel, Founding member of Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism 
  • Pragna Patel is a founding member of the Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism. She worked as a co-ordinator and senior case worker for SBS from 1982 to 1993 when she left to train and practice as a solicitor. In 2009 she returned to SBS as its Director. She has been centrally involved in some of SBS’ most important cases and campaigns around domestic violence, immigration and religious fundamentalism. She has also written extensively on race, gender and religion. See: Pragna Patel, “No Place for a Woman: Harmful Practices, Religion and State Responses” in JA Scutt, Women, Law & Culture, Conformity, Contradiction & Conflict, 2016, pp 181-203

Convened by Jocelynne Scutt October 2015 Dr Innes was accompanied by Dodi Doiwa, heading up a World Bank Project in Papua New Guinea.

Dr Jane Innes is a facilitator with good pedagogical skills who engages with Australia’s Indigenous community in the work of ensuring that women’s voices can be heard effectively in the legal system. Chaired by Professor Edwards, Dr Innes’ lecture demonstrated how digital video can be developed to directly promote the voices of Aboriginal women on substantive legal content concerned with constitutional recognition and sovereignty. The advantage of digital video means we can share in the UK the knowledge and cultural perspectives of Aboriginal women otherwise not readily available. This digital programme was produced for the Women’s Reconciliation Network to illustrate the working of digital video in achieving this objective.

Talk took place on 8 May 2013 and was chaired by The Hon Dr J Scutt and convened by Dr S Sargent. Speakers were Dr Sarah Sargent and Dr Patricia Coverrubia.