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Anna Bryson

Dr

  • Room 07.008 - Main Site Tower

    United Kingdom

20032021

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Socio-legal research; transitional justice; oral history; conflict transformation

Research Statement

Dr Anna Bryson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and a Fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. Her research has developed along three closely related lines: modern Irish history, socio-legal studies and conflict transformation.

She is currently working on three RCUK funded projects - 'Apologies, Abuses and Dealing with the Past' (ESRC), 'Lawyers, Conflict and Transition' (ESRC) and Enhancing Democratic Habits: An Oral History of the Law Centres Movement (AHRC – in collaboration with the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford and the British Library).

Since completing her PhD at Trinity College Dublin in 2003, Anna has been involved in a series of research projects exploring various aspects of the history and legacy of conflict (e.g. she co-directed a major EU-funded project titled ‘Peace Process: Layers of Meaning’ https://www.qmul.ac.uk/law/research/funded/peace/).  She has a particular interest in oral history and has to date conducted more than 200 substantial interviews with a wide range of individuals including victims and survivors, former security force personnel, ex-combatants and former prisoners, lawyers, politicians and senior government officials. She is the Northern Ireland representative for the Oral History Society and provides accredited training on behalf of the organisation. In 2020 Anna was elected as Chair of the independent human rights organisation, the Committee on the Administration of Justice. She is also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

Anna has published three books to date and dozens of peer-reviewed articles and specialist reports. Some of her most recent publications (‘Victims, Violence and Voice: Transitional Justice, Oral History and Dealing with the Past‘) draw on these interviews to explore the ethical dimensions of sensitive field research and to tease out the theoretical and practical intersections between transitional justice and oral history. She has also conducted research on Brexit and the Peace Process as a co-investigator on the ESRC-funded Brexit Law NI project (see ‘The Empire Strikes Back: Brexit, The Irish Peace Process, and the Limitations of Law’ – article with Kieran McEvoy and Amanda Kramer in Fordham International Law Journal).

Her research on lawyers in conflict and transition has resulted in publications on the gender dynamics of cause lawyering ('Women Lawyers and the Struggle for Change in Conflict and Transition') and she is currently working with Kieran McEvoy and Louise Mallinder on a monograph titled ‘Lawyers in Conflict and Transition’ for Cambridge University Press. Other forthcoming publications deal variously with the history of political prisoners, apologies and symbolic reparations, and boycott, subversion and the rule of law.

Since 2014 Anna has been working together with colleagues from QUB and the Committee on the Administration of Justice and a former senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office lawyer to inform key debates on dealing with the past in Northern Ireland and in particular to provide accessible legal and policy commentary to a wide range of stakeholders. Outputs from the collaboration have included authoring over 30 policy documents and blogs, providing evidence to parliamentary committees, drafting ‘model legislation’, writing responses to government consultations and providing free technical legal and policy advice to key stakeholders in Northern Ireland (victims and survivors, civil society organisations, the British and Irish governments, political parties, veterans, former combatants, the British Army, the PSNI, religious leaders, politicians) as well the British and Irish governments and international actors e.g. Council of Europe, US Congress and the United Nations. In 2016 Anna was awarded a QUB Vice-Chancellor's Research Impact Prize for her work on the Oral History Archive proposed under the Stormont House Agreement. Further information regarding her work on legacy issues is available at: https://www.dealingwiththepastni.com/.

Expertise related to UN SDGs

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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