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Dr Marcus De Matos
Lecturer in Law

Research area(s)

  • Human Rights
  • Jurisprudence / Legal Theory
  • Public Law & Political Theology
  • Law and Film
  • Law & Humanities
  • Social Legal Studies

Research Interests

My research is focused on the notion of state sovereignty as a founding paradox in legal and constitutional theory. I have developed a visual investigation on the notion of sovereignty by taking it not only as a founding concept of modern legal theory, but also as a trope: a special kind of narrative, illustrated, capable of being modernized, and yet maintaining its initial trends; one that is foundational and colonial, and capable of institutionalizing sovereigns and subjecting subjects. My research discusses the problematic relation between law and image from the analysis of digital pictures of torture and surveillance produced by contemporary films, social media and government agencies. It is based on methodological approaches developed in the fields of critical legal studies and visual culture studies and proposes a new iconocritical method to analyse the entanglement of aesthetics and authority in the functions of the role of images and the rule of law. This has led me to investigate different ways in which legal subjectivity can be designed to accommodate notions of state sovereignty that are supposed to be incompatible with democracy and the rule of law - such as in transitional, post-colonial or authoritarian political contexts. I am particularly interested in the collusion of legal, political, native and theological conceptions of sovereignty in Latin American, African and Iberian countries. 

A second strand of my research incorporates my government-based work experience in human rights and public policies. I am interested in issues such as constitutional & political freedom, memory & truth, separation of powers, freedom of speech and religion; protection of witnesses, journalists and human rights activist; equality, native rights and racism; slavery, human trafficking, torture and surveillance. I am also interested in understanding how technique and technology currently affect these issues and their legal and political contexts.

I am currently working on two funded seed projects: 

"Human Rights & Religion: the legacy of the Brazilian 1962 North-Eastern Conference for public theology and democracy", funded by Brunel Institute of Communities and Societies (£ 7,200).

"Living avatars: projections of self, others and power," funded by BRIL, the Brunel Research Interdisciplinary Lab (£ 2,000)