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Africa Dean Welcomes British Academy International Fellow

10 October 2023

Dr Mariam Kamunyu
Dr Mariam Kamunyu

A feminist human rights lawyer and gender equality expert will join the School of Law and Politics this October as a British Academy International Fellow.

Dr Mariam Kamunyu will begin a 3-year British Academy International Fellowship working on an innovative project, Theorising African Feminist Judgments.

The project seeks to undertake a theoretical exposition of African Feminist Judgments with a human rights focus. A Feminist Judgment sets out to re-imagine a judgment utilising a feminist critique where a judgment fails to result in substantive equality or entrenches discrimination. This failure often results in a retrogression of women’s status in the law and erases women and their lived experiences. A Feminist Judgement can offer alternative conceptions and pathways to equality that incorporate feminist perspectives. This re-imagining can take place through a re-writing of the judgment, a commentary on the judgment, or it could take on creative and artistic expression.

Dr Kamunyu’s Fellowship will be sponsored by Professor Ambreena Manji who, in addition to being a Professor of Land Law at the school, is Cardiff University's inaugural Dean of International for Africa. The Dean of Africa role provides dedicated academic leadership to the university’s partnerships and initiatives in Africa and fosters new opportunities to extend the institution’s profile, reach and impact in the region. In her Dean capacity, Professor Manji will work closely with Dr Kamunyu to mentor her during her Fellowship.

Dr Kamunyu currently works at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya and as a research consultant where her work largely focuses on examining and influencing the gender responsiveness of laws, institutions and practices.

Dr Kamunyu said, "I am thrilled to take on this fellowship which will consolidate my practice and academic pursuits thus far, since it brings together my legal and feminist backgrounds which can often be at odds. As a feminist, I am aware and wary of how the law is used to anchor the exclusion of women; and as a researcher, I negotiate and work within this tension with curiosity and optimism. I believe that feminist judgments can offer redemptive alternatives to this contradiction. In my research, I will seek to illustrate the law’s emancipatory potential for judicial practice in Africa and the ability of feminist judgments to visibilise oppression, stereotypes, erasures and violations, thereby enhancing women’s protection.”

Speaking about the Fellowship, Professor Manji said, “Around the world, feminist scholars are addressing the possibilities offered by rewriting legal judgments from feminist perspectives. This is an especially exciting time to be working on Feminist Judgments and their potential for transforming jurisprudence and judicial practice. Although Dr Kamunyu is still in the relatively early stages of her career, she has already developed a track record of publication and scholarly activity in the field of women’s human rights. This Fellowship will afford her the opportunity to deepen this work and provide her with a sustained opportunity to engage with her scholarly interest in women and the law. I look forward to working with her in Cardiff.”

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