Research Humanities and Digital Sciences

Research at the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences focuses on transformation processes taking place in contemporary society, related to communication and culture, and analyses the underlying moral and ethical questions.

Witteveen Memorial Fellowship 2016 awarded to Nayeli Urquiza

The second Witteveen Memorial Fellowship on Law and Humanities has been awarded to Nayeli Urquiza. Urquiza holds a Master in International Relations from Webster University (Austria) and recently defended her PhD thesis on female drug mules and their experiences in the UK justice system at Kent Law School.

Her interests are in law and gender, critical legal theory, phenomenology, political philosophy, and socio-legal approaches to criminal justice and human rights.

Urquiza will visit Tilburg University from March to June 2016. She will be hosted by the International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT) at Tilburg Law School. She was selected from 20 applicants for the fellowship.

During her stay at Tilburg University, Urquiza will compare old and new perspectives on human vulnerability, focusing on Euripides’ tragedies and contemporary vulnerability theories. Through this perspective, she aims to analyze and critique the criminalization of migration through regulatory mechanisms; and the challenges of making human rights claims for migrants of all kinds (e.g. asylum seekers and economic migrants), particularly in the current European context. She will also meet with scholars at Tilburg Law School and the Tilburg School of Humanities.

Nayeli’s PhD thesis challenged traditional concepts and practices in criminal law through interdisciplinary analysis of vulnerability and gender, shown through the case study of women who act as drug mules and have been sentenced for drug importation offences in England and Wales. Drawing on feminist theory, she argues that vulnerability is not always a straightforward foundation for justice because legal and political institutions recognize vulnerability only as something exceptional, and thus, opposite to legal personhood. In the end, she demonstrated through an extensive analysis of sentencing appeals, among other sources, how the law rejects vulnerability in order to safeguard the boundaries of gender and other attributes of the legal person. That is, she asserts that criminal law is invested in maintaining a model where there are only two genders (masculine/feminine), and where the idea of the feminine is only recognized in the figure of the victim.

About the Witteveen Memorial Fellowship on Law and Humanities

Tilburg University has established the annual Witteveen Memorial Fellowship on Law and Humanities in order to commemorate the life and work of Professor Willem Witteveen, who died in the MH17 disaster in Ukraine in July 2014. The fellowship aims to enable a junior scholar (PhD or postdoc level) to further develop his or her research in the area of law and humanities during a visit to Tilburg University.

Willem Witteveen was an early representative of the interdisciplinary and contextual approach to legal scholarship in The Netherlands and Tilburg Law School. Whereas the emphasis often is on social sciences, Witteveen’s focus was on law and humanities. Rhetoric, literature, political philosophy and (intellectual and cultural) history in particular were breeding grounds for Witteveen’s many contributions to academia, politics and society. Witteveen attached a lot of importance to student formation in the sense of the classic Bildungsideal to which expression (rhetoric, language) and contact with classical texts are central.

Note for editors

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