Refracting rights from the margins: Call for papers for the Australian Journal of Human Rights

Deadline for abstracts: August 31, 2022
Notification of acceptance: September 30, 2022
Deadline for final paper: March 31, 2023

Victims of human rights are very often the subjects of human rights research, but their perspectives are often refracted through layers of secondary sources or analytical debate that risks obscuring first-hand experience at the margins. Some questions, however, allow us to move past these limitations in order to understand how rights are refracted at the margins: how do the international human rights and humanitarian law regimes either extend or impede the everyday enjoyment of rights of marginal individuals and communities? How do victims of State violence and socioeconomic injustice perceive the international law-based human rights framework? To what extent do they engage with and draw on human rights discourses and institutions to articulate their claims? What other emancipatory discourses do victims, activists and solidarity support groups use instead of international human rights, and how do these other discourses either extend or challenge hegemonic liberal understandings of human rights? 

In grappling with these questions, the Australian Journal of Human Rights will publish a special issue that aims to contribute to the critical turn in human rights scholarship through an exploration of the everyday experience and practice of human rights at the margins. This includes and is not limited to those making claims from marginal spaces such as refugee camps, containment camps, urban slums and ghettos, conflict zones, and rural indigenous settlements. The individuals and communities living in these areas form the growing body of subaltern peoples across the northern and southern hemispheres, whose voices are largely missing in much of contemporary human rights scholarship. 

In exploring how human rights are refracted, contested and even transformed at the margins, this special issue expects to highlight examples of interplay between the international human rights framework and indigenous / local discourses and mechanisms of social justice, with the aim of identifying synergies as well as tensions. In doing so it seeks to contribute to a nuanced appraisal of the current state, potentialities and limits of human rights, and more broadly ongoing efforts across the social sciences to ‘decolonise’ the study of marginal individuals and communities, particularly those in the global South as well as indigenous communities of colonial states. Thus contributions from claimants are welcome, as are the works of those who deliberately subvert traditional top-down understandings of human rights practice and scholarship.

This special issue will build on the foundations of existing papers published by the Journal (particularly Special Issue 2006), on the question of marginality by providing a hitherto largely neglected ‘bottom-up’ perspective exploring how human rights are lived, imagined, instrumentalised and contested by marginal individuals and communities. The Journal is seeking papers that will add to the literature on grassroots, extra-legal activist campaigns drawing on hybrid rights traditions and the contentious politics of victims and other marginal communities, both in the global South and locally within Australia. 

For this special issue the Journal seeks contributions for both original articles (7000 to 10000 words) and the Current Perspectives section (1500 to 3000 words). More information about these types of submissions is available here

To indicate your interest in this call for papers, please submit an abstract (200-300 words), the type of submission (original or current perspectives), and a biographical note (maximum 100 words) to by August 31, 2022. 

Manuscripts will be subject to peer review.

For more information on this call for papers, please contact Suraina Pasha at