Researcher in Focus: Dr Nicolás Brando
Posted on: 16 January 2023 by Nick Jones in 2023 Posts
This month’s researcher in focus is Dr Nicolás Brando from the School of Law and Social Justice. Nico is a Colombian social and political philosopher who, after much hopping around the world, has ended up working on philosophical and legal questions around childhood and children’s rights in the city that saw The Beatles grow up.
Nico's research merges philosophical methods of analysis with sociological theories to assess the validity of legal frameworks. When he’s not watching football, he likes to explore thorny ethical questions about the legal treatment of children such as, “is anything wrong with child labour?”, or “why should toddlers be allowed to vote?” Many of these ramblings can be found in his contributions to Justice Everywhere.
You can listen to a podcast version of this blog and get a deeper insight into Nico's work here:
Nico studied and worked in Barcelona, Hong Kong and Leuven before moving to the British Isles. He joined the University of Liverpool as a Derby Fellow in March 2022, after being freed from the lockdown that trapped him for two years in an apartment in Belfast working on a project entitled “Childhood at the Margins: A Normative Analysis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child” at the Centre for Children’s Rights (QUB) with a Newton International Fellowship funded by the British Academy.
He is currently Deputy-Director of the European Children’s Rights Unit (ECRU), and is working on his first monograph, Not Just for Kids: A Political Theory of Childhood and Children’s Rights, under contract with Oxford University Press for the British Academy monograph series.
Through his work, Nico begs us to question some of our most deeply held assumptions about how we understand what childhood is, what justice and equality demand for our treatment of children, and what they are owed in terms of rights.
His work questions the strict binary oppositions in law and society between children and adults, and argues in favour of a more nuanced understanding of social categories; one which is sensitive to the diversity and lived experience of the human subjects studied. He relies on philosophical methods and sociological sources to evaluate whether the law and policy that regulates childhood is justified and fair. He is especially concerned with issues of age-based discrimination of the child population, and how this affects their freedoms and agency.
Together with Deborah Lawson and Helen Stalford at ECRU, Nico is developing a series of online masterclasses, Children in Theory, on theoretical methods and approaches to studying childhood.
Moreover, with an interdisciplinary group of scholars from around the world, he is in process of forming an international network on Critical Children’s Rights Studies, for all the outcasts in the field who reject positivist approaches to children’s rights law.
He’s an active member of the Human Development and Capabilities Association, where he coordinates the thematic group on Children and Youth, and going to fun conferences in different corners of the world each year.
He has published on a wide variety of topics related to childhood, justice, and education, such as children’s right to vote, education justice, linguistic justice, secession, global commons and many more. For more information on his projects or publications, feel free to check out his (terribly outdated) personal website.
Learn more about Nico's research on his staff page.
Keywords: Researcher in Focus.