Mercedes Malcomson (2018 Cohort)

Mercedes Malcomson

About me/education;I hold a BA Russian and History from the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, UCL, and an LLM Qualifying Law Degree from Birkbeck. At undergraduate level, I wrote dissertations on classical composers and Stalin-era cultural policy as well as on the policy of korenizatsiia in the early Soviet Union. At postgraduate level, I wrote on the 2012 ‘foreign agents’ law and its impact on human rights activists.

I have recently come from working in academic governance and research management, supporting senior management in a small, specialist university. Beyond my experience in higher education, I have worked in orchestral management, including setting up and running non-profit orchestras.

My research; My research considers themes of foreignness and Russianness in the practice and discourse of human rights in Russia since 2012, asking how these relate to methods employed by human rights defenders in securing international legal norms throughout Putin’s current regime, and how this reshapes our understanding of Russia’s relationship with human rights, with a focus on the ‘living’ legal theory. The project takes as a starting point the 2012 ‘foreign agents’ law. I continue my research on human rights defenders’ responses to the law, arguing that questions of foreignness in human rights discourse provide a useful framework for analysing human rights defenders’ relationships with international human rights law, and by extension how international human rights norms are secured in Russia.

The difference my research makes; As discourse about international law, human rights and regional integrity occupies the foreground of popular debate, my research explores how this is played out ‘on the ground’ in Russia. This study reframes current questions about international human rights law and practice by taking an interdisciplinary approach to interrogate ideas about legal theory and ‘culture’. In doing so, I hope to build a clearer picture of how human rights are conceived and communicated and of their relevance in 21st-century Russia.

Supervisors: Prof Bill Bowring; Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones

Publications: Malcomson, M. (forthcoming) ‘“So whose agents are we?” Defining (international) human rights in the shadow of the ‘foreign agents’ law in Russia’, Birkbeck Law Review 7(1)

Location: Birkbeck School of Law

Pathway: Law and Socio-legal Studies


Twitter: @mercmalcomson