Professor Stonebridge’s research focuses on twentieth-century and contemporary literature and history, Human Rights, and Refugee Studies, drawing on the interdisciplinary connections between literature, history, politics, law, and social policy. She is a scholar of the political philosopher, Hannah Arendt and, following Arendt, adopts a comparative and question-driven approach to modern cultural history.
Her most recent book Placeless People: Writing, Rights, and Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a polemical study of how the literature of exile gave way to a more complicated and vexed articulation of statelessness in the mid twentieth century. In 1944 Hannah Arendt wrote: 'Everywhere the word 'exile' which once had an undertone of almost sacred awe, now provokes the idea of something simultaneously suspicious and unfortunate.' The book offers an intellectual and literary history of that transition, by showing how Arendt read literature to think about rightlessness, and how mid-century writers, such as George Orwell, Samuel Beckett, Simone Weil, and W.H. Auden, were concerned to register to the emergence of mass displacement in their writing. These writers all respond to a challenge that remains with us today: how might we imagine community and sovereignty beyond nation state histories?
Placeless People is a follow-on to The Judicial Imagination: Writing after Nuremberg (2011/14) which also took the work of Arendt as a theoretical starting point in order to think about the relation between law, justice and literature in the aftermath of total war and genocide. The book focused on the work of an extraordinary generation of women writers and intellectuals, including Rebecca West, Martha Gellhorn, Elizabeth Bowen, Dorothy Thompson, Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch, who were all passionately committed to justice whilst being sceptical about the mid-century turn to human rights.
Most recently, Lyndsey has been focusing on developing new methodologies capable of demonstrating the value of the arts and humanities to real world contexts. Understanding how writing plays a role in developing new context for thinking about human rights, particularly refugee rights, is the basis of her current work with the multi-disciplinary AHRC/ESRC project Refugee Hosts working with refugees and their hosts in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Combining traditional humanities scholarship with creative, critical, and participatory approaches, the project focuses on the politics and ethics of hosting and neighbourliness in rights-scarce contexts. Central to this recent work is the question of how we archive and create histories of statelessness, rightlessness, and impoverishment outside and between the histories of nations and global governance.
Lyndsey is currently completing a short polemical book for OUP's Literary Agenda Series, Writing and Writing: Literature in an Age of Human Rights (2020).