Michelle is Reader in Law in the School of Law and Social Justice. She currently holds a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship for her project on the political theology of torture.
Michelle joined the University of Liverpool in September 2012. She was awarded her PhD from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2011. She also holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the Irish Centre for Human Rights and a BA in European Studies from Trinity College Dublin.
Michelle researches in international law and human rights law. Her research is specifically concerned with state power and violence. She writes about histories and practices of torture as well as the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Michelle is also interested in conflict, counter-terrorism and states of emergency from historical, theoretical and human rights perspectives. She employs an 'anxious critique' of rights and her research is particularly informed by continental philosophy and critical theory. Michelle's first monograph, The Prohibition on Torture in Exceptional Circumstances, was published with Cambridge University Press in 2013. She is now working on a Leverhulme funded project entitled: the political theology of torture. Michelle is also interested in discourses around human rights and is the co-editor (with Drywood and Hughes) of Human Rights in the Media: Fear and Fetish (Routledge, 2019), examining the representation of human rights in the media in the context of the UK Human Rights Act repeal debates.
In 2016, Michelle was an expert on the EU-Vietnam Strategic Dialogue on the United Nations Convention Against Torture implementation process. In the past, she has held visiting fellowships at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI, Galway (2019), the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, McGill University (2016), and the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights State-Wide Outreach Initiative (2015). She has also been visiting faculty at the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights (2018) and a visiting lecturer at the University of Nanterre (2017). Before joining the School of Law and Social Justice, Michelle held the National University of Ireland EJ Phelan Postgraduate Fellowship in International Law and was based at the Irish Centre for Human Rights. Michelle was a teaching fellow at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation in 2008/9. Michelle has also worked for Amnesty International, Irish Section and Physicians for Human Rights, Israel.
Michelle welcomes proposals from doctoral candidates interested in international law and human rights law. She particularly welcomes proposals which challenge orthodox accounts of international legal practice or challenge conventional ways of thinking by using theoretical or historical perspectives. Her areas of interest include, particularly: the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment; torture and colonialism; states of emergency and/or counter-terrorism in the UK or internationally; the idea of human rights; the UK and human rights; rights in the media; climate change and international law.
Past and current PhD students:
Dr Yvonne Mellon, Exploring Modern Slavery and the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (completed)
Dr Ben Murphy, Accountability and the United Nations Security Council (completed)
Marlene Payva Almonte, Human Rights and Climate Change
Jasmin Johurun Nessa, The Evidentiary Standard of Self-Defence in International Law
Danielle Reeder, Consequences of the UK's Withdrawal from the European Union for Collective Security Mechanisms
Tomkeen Mobegi, Climate-Induced Human Migration and Displacement and International Law: A TWAIL Perspective on the Convergence of Human Rights and Securitisation
- The Political Theology of Torture (Leverhulme Trust, 2020 - 2021)
- O' Brien Fellow in Residence (Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, McGill University , 2016)
- NUI EJ Phelan Postgraduate Fellow in International Law (National University of Ireland , 2011)
Other Personal Distinctions
- Visiting fellow (Irish Centre for Human Rights, 2019)
- Visiting faculty (Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, 18th Specialization Course in International Criminal Law for Young Panellists, 2018)
- Visiting scholar (University of Nanterre, 2018)
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA, 2018)
- Visiting Scholar (University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, 2015)