Associate Professor Matthew Zagor

Associate Professor, Director of Law Reform and Social Justice
B.A.(1st Class Hons; London); LLB (UNSW); GDLP (CoL)
+61 2 6125 4911
Room 6.3.7

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Biography

Associate Professor Matthew Zagor has 20 years’ experience as a human rights and refugee advocate, practitioner and scholar. His research is characterised by its transdisciplinary approach and diversity, with recent publications covering comparative constitutional law, the legal recognition of refugee narrative identities, the ‘humanity’ turn of international law, and perspectives of legality amongst Israeli soldiers. His current research applies theories of political theology to the legal construction of the border, the legal paradoxes of refugee resettlement programs, and the Australian judiciary's approach to human rights treaty obligations.

Matthew’s most recent research considers how liberal notions of autonomy, authenticity and redemption inform legal and political constructions of the refugee. His current project uses these concepts to explore state sovereignty and border control.

Before joining academia, Matthew worked in community law, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, and as a Member on the Migration / Refugee Review Tribunal. He remains actively involved in law reform and public policy, making regular submissions to Parliamentary inquiries, commenting publicly on refugee policy, and sitting on the Advisory Committee of the ALRC’s Freedoms Inquiry.

Matthew is an Adjunct Fellow at the ANU Centre for European Studies, and Editor of the Australian Yearbook of International Law. He has held Visiting Fellowships at the LSE Centre for Human Rights and Society and the University of Grenoble’s Centre for International Security and European Cooperation, and in 2013 participated in the prestigious Michigan Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law. Matthew speaks regularly on refugee-related matters in Australia and overseas.

Appointments

  • Director, Law Reform and Social Justice
  • Adjunct Fellow, ANU Centre for European Studies (Deputy Director 2010-2011)
  • Senior Research Associate, Refugee Law Initiative, School of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London
  • 2013-2019: Editor, Australian Yearbook of International Law
  • 2007-2015 International Humanitarian Law Committee (ACT Branch), Australian Red Cross; Member, Cluster Munitions Coalition (Australia).
  • 2006-2013: Academic Editor, Federal Law Review
  • 2010-2011: Legal Advisor to the Cluster Munitions Coalition, Australia
  • 2007-2012: National Committee, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights  
  • 2010-2011 Deputy Director, ANU Centre for European Studies
  • 2006 Visiting Professor, University of Alabama School of Law; 2006 Visiting Fellow, Centre for Study of Human Rights, LSE; 2012 Visiting Fellow, University of Grenoble; 2017 Visitor Fellow, Georgetown Law; Refugee Law Initiative, School of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London
  • 2003-2006 P/T Member, Migration Review Tribunal / Refugee Review Tribunal.
  • ACT Editorial Committee, Alternative Law Journal (2005-2008) 
  • ANUCES Briefing Paper Series (2010-2012). 

 

Significant research publications

‘Martyrdom, Antinomianism, and the Prioritising of Christians – Towards a Political Theology of Refugee Resettlement’ (2019) 38.4 Refugee Survey Quarterly 387–424

'Adventures in the Grey Zone: Judicial Review of Executive Power in the Migration Context' in M.L. Paris and J. Bell (eds) Changing Landscape - Comparative Reflections on Rights-Based Constitutional Review (Edward Elgar, 2016)

'The Struggle of Autonomy and Authenticity: Framing the Savage Refugee' (2015) 21(4) Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 373-94

‘Recognition and Narrative Identities: Is Refugee Law Redeemable?’ in Rubenstein, Nolan and Jenkins, Allegiance and Identity in a Globalised World (CUP, 2014)

‘Elementary Considerations of Humanity’ in Bennalier, Christakis and Heathcote, The Enduring Impact of the Corfu Channel Case (2011, Routledge) ‘I am the Law! Perspectives of Legality and Illegality in the Israeli Army’ (2010) 43 Israel Law Review 551

'Judicial Rhetoric and Constitutional Identity' (2008) 19 Public Law Review 271

‘Exclusion and Uncertainty: the High Court and the detention of aliens’ (2006) 34 Federal Law Review

'Persecuted or Persecutor: An Examination of Exclusion under Article 1F of the Refugees Convention,' (2000) 23 UNSW Law Journal 164

Recent news

18
Oct
2021
Jessica Hodgson
If your interest in law extends beyond studying it to shaping it, the ANU Law Reform and Social Justice Research Hub is the project for you.
04
Feb
2021
Australia Day protests at Parliament House
ANU public law scholars have supported a submission to the Federal Government urging the enshrinement of an Indigenous Voice in the Constitution.
03
Nov
2020
Charlotte Michalowski and Andrew Ray
ANU College of Law students reveal the "terrifying but fun" experience of discussing their submission before a Senate inquiry.
29
Jul
2020
Protesters attend a black lives matter rally in Melbourne
ANU student-led research and policy group Law Reform and Social Justice explores how the pandemic has impacted the rule of law in their project COVID-19 and the Rule of Law.

Past events

18
Oct
2021
 Modern slavery in supply chains: Assessing corporate reporting
5.30PM to 6.30PM Webinar

Who makes our clothes and under what conditions do they work? Join experts and student research interns from ANU College of Law who will discuss the emerging patterns of corporate reporting on modern slavery.

07
Aug
2021
Collective (2019)
5.00PM to 7.30PM Movie screening

Join ANU Law Reform and Social Justice (LRSJ) and ANU Film Group in the movie screening of Collective (2019), a documentary about a team of investigative journalists who uncover massive health care fraud in the wake of the devastating 2015 fire at the Colectiv club in Bucharest, Romania.

19
May
2021
Practical Guide to Law and Protests in the ACT Launch
6.00PM to 7.30PM Launch
  • The Honourable Shane Rattenbury

Join GreenLaw and the Law Reform and Social Justice Program (LRSJ) in the launch of the first ever comprehensive Practical Guide to Law and Protests in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

18
Mar
2021
LRSJ presents Meet a Judge: The Hon Alan Robertson SC
1.30PM to 2.30PM In conversation
  • The Hon Alan Robertson SC

In this in-conversation, Associate Professor Matthew Zagor talks to The Honourable Alan Robertson SC about his thoughts on his career and making a difference in law.

Research biography

Associate Professor Matthew Zagor has 20 years’ experience as a human rights and law reform advocate, practitioner and scholar. His research is characterised by its transdisciplinary approach and diversity, with recent publications covering the legal paradoxes of refugee resettlement, the comparative constitutional law and executive detention, refugee narrative identities and discourses of autonomy, the ‘humanity’ turn of international law, and perspectives of legality amongst Israeli soldiers.

Matthew’s most recent research considers how liberal notions of autonomy, authenticity and redemption inform legal and political constructions of the refugee, and the intersection between theological and legal - or anti-legal (antinomian) - thinking in the formulation of refugee resettlement policy. His current projects are more doctrinal, uncovering judicial legal theories underpinning approaches to executive detention of non-citizens, and the sui generis approach of Australian courts to the Refugee Convention.

Before joining academia, Matthew worked in community law, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, and the Migration / Refugee Review Tribunal, where he was a part-time Member. As the Director of Law Reform and Social Justice, he remains actively involved in law reform and public policy, making regular submissions to Parliamentary inquiries, commenting publicly on refugee policy, and sitting on the Advisory Committee of the ALRC’s Freedoms Inquiry.

Matthew is an Adjunct Fellow at the ANU Centre for European Studies, and a Senior Research Associate at the Refugee Law Initiative at the University of London's School of Advanced Legal Studies. He is a former Editor of both the Australian Yearbook of International Law and Federal Law Review, and has held Visiting Fellowships at the LSE Centre for Human Rights and Society, the University of Grenoble’s Centre for International Security and European Cooperation, Georgetown University Law School, and the University of London's School of Advanced Legal Studies.

Grants

2017-2020 Investigator, Jean Monnet Grant (lead by Professor Jacqueline Lo), Politics, Policy, Culture: EU Migration and Integration – co-lead investigator ‘Borders to Pathways’ Network

Currently supervising

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    Topic: Non-Refoulement as Custom: fait accompli or wishful legal thinking?
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    Topic: Non-Refoulement as Custom: fait accompli or wishful legal thinking?

Current courses

Year Course code Course name
2021 LAWS4230
Class #4647
Law Internship
2021 LAWS4230
Class #7232
Law Internship
2021 LAWS6230
Class #4648
Law Internship
2021 LAWS6230
Class #7224
Law Internship
2021 LAWS8252
Class #6521
International Refugee Law
2021 LAWS4271
Class #4289
Refugee Law
2021 LAWS8471
Class #4290
Refugee Law

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team