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Dr Victoria Ridler

  • Overview



    Dr Victoria L. Ridler is a Senior Lecturer in Law and has been teaching in Higher Education since 2003 (joining Birkbeck as a Lecturer in 2010.) In her early career Dr Ridler also worked in policy analysis, with experience in the United Nations and Federal Government of Canada. 

    Her current research engages with theories of legal subjectivity, authority, and obligation as well as language and forms of reasoning. These research interests inform her teaching (and vice versa) in Public law, Contract law, and her new module Legal Argument and Language in Law.


    Dr Ridler also has a strong interest in thinking about institutional forms and processes, particularly in creating spaces and opportunities for others. In terms of academic thought and community this is reflected in her work with the London Conference in Critical Thought, which she founded in 2010 and has remained an active member of the Organising Collective since. Unlike many academic conferences, the LCCT was developed to be accessible, non-hierarchical, and focused on creating space for conversation and emergent interdisciplinary thought. As such, the conference is always free to attend, prioritising space for discussion and bringing presentations together that are in conversation (rather than standalone presentations) and abstains from conventions such as invited or plenary speakers or including titles and institutional affiliations in the programme. Dr Ridler is also the managing editor of the London Journal of Critical Thought, a peer-reviewed open access journal launched in June 2016.


    In her academic administrative roles at Birkbeck (including Chair of the Sub-Board of Examiners, Programme Director for the LLB, AD of Education and now as Head of School), Dr Ridler has similarly focused on enhancing student experience, creating spaces for collaboration and discussion among colleagues, and enhancing procedural fairness and transparency in decision making and administrative processes.



    • PhD Law, University of London, 2016
    • MA Legal Studies, Carleton University, 2006
    • BA Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Political Science, Dalhousie University, 2001

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Head of School

    Professional activities

    Managing Editor, London Journal of Critical Thought

    Founder and active member of the Organising Collection, London Conference of Critical Thought

    Professional memberships

    • Fellow, HEA

      Member, The Society of Legal Scholars

  • Research


    Research overview

    Jurisdiction and Asymmetric Obligation

    Drawing from key themes from her (Beyond Jurisdiction: Reconceptualising the Universal in our Response to Injustice, 2016) Dr Ridler develops the idea of ‘asymmetric obligation’ - that is, where a legal system conceives of obligations to those who are not subject to their jurisdiction (and therefore do not have obligations within, or to, it.) This has been explored in relation to the non-human animal in ‘Dressing the sow: the legal subjectivation of the non-human animal’ (2013) and in presentations such as ‘Asymmetric Ethical Relations and the Case for Distinguishing the Legal Subject from the Legal Person’ (Subjects and Objects of Law: A Workshop on Animals and Vulnerability, Leeds University, 2017.) It has also been explored in relation to debates and discussions about jurisdiction and rights more broadly.


    In ‘The Exercise of Jurisdiction and the Absent Author of Law's Speech’ (2019) Dr. Ridler proposed a conceptualisation of jurisdiction that does not presuppose a normative justification for its assertion of authority, exposing the (potential) violence of the concept but also its relationship to the constitution of authority. This was illustrated with reference to a leading case on the application of human rights law (under the HRA 1998 and the European Convention of Human Rights [ECHR]) in occupied territories. In ‘Human Rights and a General Theory of Jurisdiction: Reflections on Strasbourg Jurisprudence’ (in process) Dr. Ridler engages in a detailed analysis of how case law from the European Court of Human Rights has grappled with the concept of jurisdiction (especially extra-territorial jurisdiction) to propose both a general theory of jurisdiction, as well as an argument to move beyond the current requirement of a jurisdictional relationship to trigger accountability of member states under the ECHR. Instead of a jurisdictional relationship the criteria of direct effect is proposed as a basis for providing standing of an individual to bring a claim against a member state for violations of human rights.


    Language and Reasoning


    While intersecting with the work of jurisdiction and asymmetric obligation, a second cluster of Victoria’s work could be described in relation to language, reasoning and ethics. This is reflected in earlier article such as ‘Word and world: the imperium of reason and possibility of critique’ (2010) and presentations such as ‘The Torsion of Meaning: Exploring the forces impelling us to cultivate sensibility in the work of William Connolly' (Time, Politics and Becoming: A One-Day Conference on William E. Connolly’s A World of Becoming, May 2011.) More recently, she has begun to develop this work in relation to legal education and is currently working a monograph/teaching resource based on her module ‘Legal Argument and Language in Law.’

  • Publications



    Book Section