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Overview

Dr Alice Nah

Associate Professor


Affiliations
Affiliation
Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Biography

I joined the Sociology Department in September 2022. Before this, I worked for ten years at the Centre for Applied Human Rights and the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of York. I held an Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship at Monash University in Melbourne; the President's Graduate Fellowship and postgraduate research scholarships at the National University of Singapore; and a visiting fellowship at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. I gained a PhD and M.Soc.Sci. in Sociology from the National University of Singapore, a Postgraduate Certificate in Occupational Psychology from the British Psychological Society, and a BA (Hons) in Management Studies and Psychology from the University of Leeds as a Chevening Scholar. 

I chair the Boards of the International Detention Coalition, a global network that advocates to secure the human rights of people impacted by and at-risk of immigration detention, and Protection International, an international non-profit organisation that supports human rights defenders in developing their security and protection management strategies. I am one of the co-founders of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, which advocates for the rights of refugees and others in need of protection in the Asia Pacific region. I am a judge on the Ockenden International Prizes, which support locally-based and/or refugee-led organisations that work directly with refugees and displaced people to advance self-reliance. In 2009, I was awarded the US State Department TIP Report Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery Award.

I co-convene the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Rights Study Group. I am an Affiliate at the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at the NYU School of Law, New York; a Senior Research Fellow (Adjunct) at the Migration and Mobilities in the Asia Pacific (MMAP) Research Cluster, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia; and a member of the Editorial College of the Migration Politics Journal.

 

Research Interests

I conduct research in two areas. Firstly, I focus on the security, protection, and wellbeing of people who promote and protect human rights (human rights defenders). I am interested in how they navigate risk, manage their security, and receive protection support. I am curious about how they exercise leadership in organisations and collectives. Using an intersectional approach, I explore how identity matters in the everyday life of activists who are women, disabled, and from migrants, LGBTIQA*, and indigenous communities. I am particularly concerned about how activists think about and work on their individual and collective wellbeing while resisting oppression.

Secondly, I am interested in the experiences of migrants and refugees in Asia, and how their lives are shaped by laws, policies, and practices. I study how state authorities, civil society groups, UNHCR, and the public understand the place of migrants and refugees in Asian societies. I explore how 'protection' is understood, organised, and enacted by state and non-state actors. I research how migrants and refugees advocate for their own rights and how civil society actors act in solidarity with them.

My research is applied, interdisciplinary, and impact oriented. I have been invited by governments, intergovernmental bodies, and civil society actors to participate in dialogues as an independent expert in both these areas of research Between 2015-2019, I supported the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the preparation of his reports to the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. I have done consultancies for organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and UN Women.

Research Groups

Communities and Social Justice

Violence and Abuse

Publications

Edited books

 

Nah, A. M., ed. (2020) Protecting human rights defenders at risk, Abingdon: Routledge. 

 

Bennett, K.; Ingleton, D.; Nah, A. M. and Savage, J. (2016) Critical perspectives on the security and protection of human rights defenders,Routledge: Abingdon and New York.

 

Journal articles

 

Peña, A. M., Meier, L. and Nah, A. M. (2021) Exhaustion, adversity, and repression: Emotional attrition in high-risk activism, Perspectives on Politics, pp. 1–16. doi: 10.1017/S1537592721003273 

 

Nah, A. M. (2020) Navigating mental and emotional wellbeing in risky forms of human rights activism, Social Movement Studies, 20(1): 20-35, DOI: 10.1080/14742837.2019.1709432

 

Nah, A.M. (2019) The ambiguous authority of the 'surrogate state': UNHCR's negotiation of asylum in the complexities of migration in Southeast Asia, Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales, 35 (1 & 2): 63-86.

 

Ormond, M. and Nah, A. M. (2019) Risk entrepreneurship and the construction of healthcare deservingness for ‘desirable’, ‘acceptable’ and ‘disposable’ migrants in Malaysia, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2019.1597477

 

Nah, A. M. (2016) Networks and norm entrepreneurship amongst local civil society actors: Advancing refugee protection in the Asia Pacific Region, International Journal of Human Rights, 20(2), 223-240. 

 

Bennett, K.; Ingleton, D.; Nah, A. M. and Savage, J. (2015) Critical perspectives on the security and protection of human rights defenders, International Journal of Human Rights, 19(7), 883-895.

 

Nah, A. M.; Bennett, K.; Ingleton, D.; and Savage, J. (2013) A research agenda for the protection of human rights defenders, Journal of Human Rights Practice, 5(3), 401-420.

 

Nah, A. M. (2012) Globalisation, sovereignty, and immigration control: The hierarchy of rights for migrant workers in Malaysia, Asian Journal of Social Science, 40(4), 486-508.

 

Nah, A. M. (2011) Legitimizing violence: The impact of public ‘crackdowns’ on migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia, Australian Journal of Human Rights,17(2), 131-157.

 

Nah, A. M. (2008) Recognizing indigenous identity in postcolonial Malaysian law: Rights and realities for the Orang Asli (aborigines) of Peninsular Malaysia, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Lang- en Volkenkunde,164 (2/3), 212-237.

 

Nah, A. M. (2006) (Re)Mapping indigenous ‘race’/place in postcolonial peninsular Malaysia, Geografiska Annaler, 88B(3), 285-297.

 

Bunnell, T. and Nah, A. M. (2005) Ripples of hope: Acehnese refugees in post-tsunami Malaysia, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 26(2), 249-256.

 

Bunnell, T. and Nah, A. M. (2004) Counter-global cases for place: Contesting displacement in globalizing Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Area, Urban Studies, 41(12), 2447-2467.

 

Nah, A. M. (2003) Negotiating indigenous identity in postcolonial Malaysia: Beyond being ‘not quite/ not Malay’, Social Identities, 9(4), 511-534.

 

Chapters in books

 

Jones, M.; Nah, A. and Bartley, P. (2019) Introduction, In M. Müller (Ed) Temporary shelter and relocation initiatives, ifa Edition Culture and Foreign Policy, Martin Roth-Initiative: Stuttgart, pp. 7-17.

 

Jones, M.; Nah, A. and Bartley, P. (2019) Temporary relocation initiatives from the perspective of managers, In M. Müller (Ed) Temporary shelter and relocation initiatives, ifa Edition Culture and Foreign Policy, Martin Roth-Initiative: Stuttgart, pp. 18-48.

 

Nah, A. M. (2015) Illegality and its uncertainties: Immigration detention in Malaysia. In A. Nethery and S. J. Silverman (Eds). Immigration detention: The migration of a policy and its human impact, Routledge: Abingdon and New York, pp. 125-134.

 

Nah, A. M. (2014) Seeking refuge in Kuala Lumpur: Self-help strategies to reduce vulnerability amongst refugees. In S.G. Yeoh (Ed). The other Kuala Lumpur: Living in the shadows of a globalising Southeast Asian City, Routledge: Abingdon and New York, pp. 146-167.

 

Nah, A. M. (2014) The illusion of rights: Access to justice and the rights of non-citizens in Malaysia. In S. Lemière (Ed). Misplaced democracy: Malaysian politics and people, Petaling Jaya: Strategic Information and Research Development Center, pp. 125-134.

 

Nah, A. M. (2007) Struggling with (il)legality: The indeterminate functioning of Malaysia’s borders for asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons. In P.K. Rajaram and C. Grundy-Warr (Eds). Borderscapes: Hidden geographies and politics at territory’s edge. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 35-64.

 

Nah, A. M. (2006) Names as sites of identity construction, negotiation, and resistance: Signifying Orang Asli in postcolonial Malaysia. In K.F. Lian (Ed). Reconceptualising ethnicity in Singapore and Malaysia, Leiden: Brill, pp. 33-60.

 

Bunnell, T. and Nah, A. M. (2006) Counter-global cases for place: Contesting displacement in globalizing Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Area. In Y.S. Lee and B.S.A. Yeoh (Eds). Globalisation and the politics of forgetting, London: Routledge: Abingdon and New York, pp. 153-174.

 

International guidelines for practitioners

 

Jones, M. and Nah, A. M. The Barcelona guidelines on wellbeing and temporary international relocation of human rights defenders, released collaboratively by the University of York, Justice and Peace Netherlands, The New School. International Cities of Refuge Network, and the Martin Roth Initiative, October 2019.

 

UN Women (2022) Recommendations on the Protection of Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk in Migration Contexts, New York: UN Women (lead author)

 

Policy briefs

 

Jones, M.; Nah, A. and Lines, T. (2019) Wellbeing and temporary international relocation of human rights defenders at risk, Human Rights Defender Hub Policy Brief 8, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York.

 

Nah, A. M. and Dwyer Smith, H. (2018) Gender, intersectionality, and security, Human Rights Defender Hub Policy Brief 6, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York [available in English, Arabic, Spanish, Kiswahili, and Bahasa Indonesia].

 

Nah, A. M.; Maliamauv, K and Bartley, P. (2018) Countering the stigmatisation of human rights defenders, Human Rights Defender Hub Policy Brief 5, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York [available in English, Arabic, Spanish, Kiswahili, and Bahasa Indonesia].

 

Maliamauv, K. and Nah, A. M. (2018) Families and loved ones in the security and protection of defenders at risk, Human Rights Defender Hub Policy Brief 4, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York [available in English, Arabic, Spanish, Kiswahili, and Bahasa Indonesia].

 

Nah, A. M. (2017) Strengthening security training for defenders at risk, Human Rights Defender Hub Policy Brief 3, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York [available in English, Arabic, Spanish, Kiswahili, and Bahasa Indonesia].

Nah, A. M. (2017) Indonesia: Develop formal mechanisms to protect human rights defenders at risk, Human Rights Defender Hub Policy Brief 2, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York [available in English and Bahasa Indonesia].

Nah, A. M. (2017) Wellbeing, risk, and human rights practice, Human Rights Defender Hub Policy Brief 1, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York [available in English, Arabic, Spanish, Kiswahili, and Bahasa Indonesia].

Others

Jones, M. and Nah, A. M. (2019) Submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament on ‘Human rights: Freedom of religion and belief and human rights defenders’, 20 September.

 

Dwyer-Smith, H. and Nah, A. M. (2019) 20 Years On: Reinvigorating State implementation of the Declaration Human Rights Defenders through a Global Network, A study assessing the desirability and feasibility of a Global Network of Human Rights Defender Focal Points, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York: York.

 

Nah, A. M.; Maliamauv, K.; Bartley, P.; Fernida, I.; and Hernawan, B. (2017) Navigating risk, managing security and receiving support: A Study of human rights defenders at risk in Indonesia, Summary of findings, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York: York. [English and Bahasa Indonesia, available at: https://securityofdefendersproject.org/summary-of-findings]

 

Nah, A. M.; Cousins, P.; Schmitz, E.; Bartley, P.; and Maliamauv, K. (2017) Navigating risk, managing security and receiving support: A Study of human rights defenders at risk in Colombia, Summary of findings, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York: York. [English and Spanish, available at: https://securityofdefendersproject.org/summary-of-findings]

 

Nah, A. M.; Maliamauv, K.; Bartley, P.; Monterrosas, E.; Pacheco Ruiz, P. (2017) Navigating risk, managing security and receiving support: A Study of human rights defenders at risk in Mexico, Summary of findings, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York: York. [English and Spanish, available at: https://securityofdefendersproject.org/summary-of-findings]

Nah, A. M. (2010) Strengthening refugee protection in South and Southeast Asia: The significance of civil society, Human Rights Defender 19(3):20-23.

 

Nah, A. M. (2010) The role of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, Refugee Studies Forum 1:24-27.

 

Nah, A. M. (2010) Refugees and space in urban areas in Malaysia, Forced Migration Review 34:29-31.

 

Nah, A. M. (2007) Promoting the socio-economic development of migrants and refugees in Malaysia, In Proceedings of the conference on the challenges of global migration and forced displacement: A prelude to the High-Level Dialogues on International Migration and Development (HLD), Kuala Lumpur: United Nations, pp. 79-94.

 

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0253-0334

Personal website: https://securityofdefendersproject.org/

Supervision students