Dr Rayner Thwaites, Associate Professor Elisa Arcioni and Professor Helen Irving, constitutional experts at the Sydney Law School, have been awarded $113,075 by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Special Research Initiative for Australian Society, History and Culture scheme to explore what it means legally to be an Australian.
The project will address fundamental issues about the relationship between citizenship and membership of the Australian community and what role the law plays in shaping theories of belonging, citizenship and nationhood. The three researchers will examine key constitutional cases in which individual claims to ‘belong’ were the central issue.
Rayner Thwaites said: "It’s exciting for us to have this opportunity, to explore how Australian law has constructed membership of the national community, and how that has informed what it means to ’belong’”.
Professor Simon Bronitt, Head of School and Dean, congratulated the research team saying that their project will “put a spotlight on ‘belonging’ and national identity. Who belongs, and what signifies inclusion and exclusion, is a theoretical, constitutional, political and ultimately existential issue – in an age of increasing polarisation and extremism, this project is both timely and much needed.”
Rayner Thwaites works on citizenship, and the relationships between administrative, constitutional and international law, and was the recipient of a 2016 ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award for his project on citizenship deprivation.
His monograph, The Liberty of Non-citizens: Indefinite Detention in Commonwealth Countries, was published by Hart Publishing in 2014.
Elisa Arcioni works in the field of public law, particularly constitutional identity and constitutional membership.
In 2017 she was awarded the Cheryl Saunders Prize for Excellence in Constitutional Law Scholarship.
Helen Irving is a leading expert on constitutional law and has written extensively on the making of the Australian Constitution, comparative constitutional design and gender and constitutional citizenship. Her most recent monograph, supported by an ARC Discovery Grant, Citizenship, Alienage and the Modern Constitutional State: A Gendered History, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.
She is currently completing a project on allegiance and citizenship, with a further ARC Discovery Grant.