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Inaugural lecture: Professor Brad Blitz

Event information

START DATE 13 February 2014
START TIME 12:00am

Grove Atrium, Hendon.

END DATE 13 February 2014
END TIME 12:00am

The State and the Stateless: the Legacy of Hannah Arendt Reconsidered. Deputy Dean and Professor Brad Blitz delivers his inaugural lecture.

The State and the Stateless: the Legacy of Hannah Arendt Reconsidered

The Deputy Dean and Professor at at Middlesex University Law School delivers his inaugural lecture.

Hannah Arendt’s description of the stateless, is set against the backdrop of Nazism and the massive refugee crises that resulted from the Second World War.  For Arendt, the existence of refugees highlighted contradictions at the very heart of the liberal state, which while professing to respect universal individual rights, simultaneously holds the keys to citizenship and thus the potential for exclusion.  For those non-citizens who lacked their own government, no authority was left to protect them.  This was the situation of the stateless.

For Arendt, the stateless are not accidental, but rather symptomatic of a world order, threatened by the thrust of imperialism and expansionism.  Totalitarianism emerges from these trends which crystalise around the ‘other’ - in the case of Nazism, the Jew.  Thus the treatment of others is integrally linked to the nature of governance.

According to the UN Refuge Agency (UNHCR), there are an estimated 12 million stateless people in the world today.  As a result of their exclusion they suffer many deprivations and have difficulty enforcing their human rights. 

Since Arendt first introduced the stateless in The Origins of Totalitarianism in 1951, there have been few empirical investigations of the claims she advanced.  In spite of this, the UNHCR has set itself a goal of ending statelessness within 10 years.

This lecture re-examines the mechanisms which may give rise to statelessness and the forms of governance which sustain it.  Professor Blitz argues that Arendt’s account, while informative of some specific cases of statelessness, cannot explain how statelessness arises in many other situations and as a result fails to offer an insight into potential remedies. Drawing upon two global investigations of stateless groups in Bangladesh, Estonia, Kenya, the Gulf States, Mauritania, Slovenia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine, Professor Blitz will describe how some have successfully militated for the restoration of their rights and suggest future avenues for research and humanitarian policy development.

For a free ticket please click here.

Light refreshments will be served from 5pm with an introduction from Professor Waqar Ahmad, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic.. Please contact Christiana Rose with any queries, many thanks.


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