Angela Leahy, Murdoch University:
It was a great honour to receive the TASA Precarious Work Scholarship to attend the TASA Annual Conference in Melbourne in 2018. The scholarship is not only a recognition of my writing and research in the sociology of human rights, but an important acknowledgement of the barriers faced by precarious academics. I have been a casual academic at Murdoch University for over 10 years, coordinating, managing and tutoring in sociology and interdisciplinary units. Living in Perth as a casual academic, it has been a challenge to attend the TASA conference each year. It was a special honour to attend the 2018 conference in particular; the focus on precarity in its various forms reminded me why I became a sociologist. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet colleagues in the field who are passionate about inequality and who write and research for social change. We also heard from some brilliant speakers. A highlight for me was the keynote Nira Yuval‑Davis who spoke about refugees and people seeking asylum who find themselves in the ‘grey zone’.
My paper at the conference looked at the sociological theorisation of human rights, particularly the differences between constructionist and foundationalist approaches to the human subject of human rights. My paper is part of a broader concern to provide a stronger theoretical basis for the empirical study of human rights in sociology, particularly research that takes a constructionist view of human rights. If the opportunity arose, I would very much like to help establish a Human Rights thematic group at TASA.