School of Politics and International Relations

Image of Vanessa Pupavac

Vanessa Pupavac

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Vanessa Pupavac is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Nottingham. She has previously worked for the UN Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia and other international organisations.

Expertise Summary


M14026 NGOs


M13039 War, Disaster and Political Psychology

M12089 International Political Economy and Global Development

M10277 International Politics of Humanitarianism

M11006 Problems in Global Politics

M11006 Problems in Global Politics

Research Summary

Vanessa Pupavac's research encompasses international human rights, children's rights, linguistic rights, humanitarian and development politics. In recent years she has been examining the… read more

Current Research

Vanessa Pupavac's research encompasses international human rights, children's rights, linguistic rights, humanitarian and development politics. In recent years she has been examining the international politics of trauma, that is, the influence of Western therapy culture on international aid policy and the rise of international psychosocial programmes. She is also currently examining international language rights and language politics. Her research is underpinned by an interest in contemporary subjectivity and the crisis of meaning in international politics. Vanessa Pupavac is a member of the International Relations, Security and International History. research grouping in the School. She is a member of The Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice in the School.

Language rights in Conflict: From freedom of communication to identity protection

I am currently undertaking research on changing concepts of language rights. This research draws upon my background in law and languages. I am tracing the shift from concept of international language rights associated with rights of communication (freedom of speech, pen, movement and assembly) to language rights associated with the recognition and protection of identity. The protection of specific group identities and languages has been seen as important to protect vulnerable minority groups against the powerful public or private social actors. However identity rights may legitimise forms of global governance, which restrict people's freedoms. I am exploring how the shift to international identity rights advocacy relates to global political and economic developments. Western economies like the UK have shifted from production to services and the construction of consumer brands. Enterprises and services from multinational corporations to local government authorities to universities to non-governmental organisations and alternative health practices are increasingly concerned about protecting and marketing their organisational identity. To protect their brand identity, enterprises are ready to invoke (UK) libel laws against external critics or apply confidentiality clauses against internal critics from speaking out about matters, which may embarrass enterprises. Such developments risk chilling intellectual inquiry, public debate and academic freedom in both the sciences and the humanities. In summary identity rights are not simply the rights of the vulnerable, but are also the rights of powerful public and private social actors to silence questions over their activities. Moreover evolving forms of global human rights governance of minorities suggest how identity rights are increasingly the rights of external global advocates to manage communities rather than rights of self-determination. My research is relevant to civil and language rights debates and debates on global governance and biopolitics.

School of Politics and International Relations

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