The Faculty of Law (UP Law) at the University of Pretoria (UP) is proud to announce that Professor Gustav Muller in its Department of Private Law was invited to join the 'Scientific Network on Eviction and Housing Rights' (SNEHR).
The SNEHR is an academic network, which forms part of the EVICT-project (University of Groningen, The Netherlands). According to Muller’s invitation, the SNEHR has three objectives: ‘(1) Establishing a network of researchers in the field of housing law and housing rights; (2) Embedding this network in the EVICT-project, our team, and announce and distribute EVICT talk series, research papers, blogs, and other publications; and (3) Building a community in order to facilitate (future) collaboration and research projects.
The EVICT-project is an interdisciplinary research project studying the relationship between the international right to housing and national law using legal and data science techniques to analyse international housing rights law and eviction litigation. The project team involves a number of PhD researchers, postdoctoral researchers, and several assistant, associate and full professors. The project, which is funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant, will conclude in 2025.
The honour bestowed upon Muller to join an EU Research Council funded project on an international network of housing researchers, based on his ‘given expertise in housing law and rights’, aligns perfectly with his current topical research on Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. For hundreds of years these groupings of people have been highly controversial and stigmatised, and at the receiving end of antiziganism’s hostility.
For instance, on 12 May 2021, The Guardian published an article by Jessica Murray confirming that the British ‘high court has ruled that local authorities can no longer issue blanket bans on Gypsies and Travellers stopping on parcels of land, in a landmark case which campaigners have hailed a “victory for equality”’. Hardly a week later, in another Guardian article by Hiamh McIntyre of 20 May 2021, regarding the removal of traveller camps, it is stated that ‘Politicians [are] accused of using Gypsies and Travellers as political footballs after local candidates for May polls placed hostile ads’.
'I needed to get to the stopping places,
so I needed to get on the road.
It was the road where I might at last
find out where I belonged.'
In the publication ‘Connected Communities: Romanies/Gypsies, Roma & Irish and Scottish Travellers, Histories, Perceptions and Representations’, Jodie Matthews infers the reasons for studying the histories and representations of Romanies/Gypsies, Roma, and Irish and Scottish Travellers as follows:
1. There exists in contemporary British culture a lack of understanding about the diverse histories of these groups.
2. The concept of an ‘authentic Gypsy’ of the past persists, meaning that experiences failing to match this visible stereotype are neglected.
3. Usually these groups are considered in collective isolation rather than as part of mainstream British history.
4. The definition of terms like ‘Gypsy’ is an ongoing process and scholarship contributes to both the undermining and reinscription of the stereotypes they connote.
5. Romani and Roma history in Europe amounts to more than victimhood and there is still considerable work to do to retrieve it.
6. Nevertheless, the history of persecution of these groups informs contemporary identities; these persecutions have not yet been fully recognised as part of broader histories.
7. Written and oral histories and autobiographies are co-opted into narratives about nation, modernity and ethnicity, and are used to perpetuate exoticism and prejudice.
8. Policy and legislation are based on knowledge about these groups that is open to critique and question.
Inter alia, the aim of legal research is to test and verify old facts, whilst simultaneously analising the facts in a new theoretical framework. It further examines the consequences of new facts or new principles of law or judicial decision and develops new legal research tools or apply tools of other disciplines in the area of law.
A proud Dean Professor Elsabe Schoeman congratulated Muller on this feat, and wished him well with his future involvement in and research undertaken for the SNEHR. ‘Congratulations! This is a great opportunity for you, and of course for UP Law and UP. ERC grants are highly sought after and the invitation is proof of your expertise - well done! It is an important milestone in your academic career. Thank you for keeping UP Law on the international map where it belongs, Gustav!’
Image description and source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/12/blanket-bans-on-camping-by-gypsies-and-travellers-ruled-at-high-court. Photo: Christopher Thomond, The Guardian