Dr Shaimaa Abdelkarim

Dr Shaimaa Abdelkarim

Birmingham Law School
Assistant Professor in Law (Postcolonial Legal Theory and Critical Race Studies)

Dr Shaimaa Abdelkarim is an Assistant Professor in postcolonial legal theory and critical race studies. She is a multidisciplinary researcher whose teaching and research are informed by a psycho-social approach to human rights discourse. She works on questions of colonialism, resistance, and human rights.


  • PhD, School of Law, University of Leicester (2021)
  • LLM, Law Department, American University in Cairo (2016)
  • LLB, Faculty of Law, Cairo University (2013)


Shaimaa Abdelkarim joined Birmingham Law School as a lecturer in postcolonial legal theory and critical race studies in the fall of 2021. Prior to that, she was a researcher at the Center of Research and Studies at the Hague Academy of International law (2020-2021). In 2019, she was awarded a Kathleen Fitzpatrick visiting fellowship for the Laureate Program in International Law at Melbourne Law School. She also held a visiting research fellowship at Warwick Law School.

Shaimaa has been an active member of various research networks including TWAIL (Third World Approach to International Law) and IGLP (Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School). She speaks regularly at different conferences like that of London Conference in Critical Thought, Critical Legal Conference and SLSA (Society for Legal Scholars Association) and gives invited talks at several institutions such as the Laureate Program Seminar at Melbourne Law School (2019) and the Global Institute of Law (2021).

Shaimaa completed her PhD in 2021 at the School of Law, University of Leicester. Her doctoral thesis analyses the conception of resistance in human rights discourse. During her PhD, she taught on the Analysing Legal Concepts and Law, Justice, and Society modules at University of Leicester. She holds an LLM from the Law Department at the American University in Cairo and an LLB from Cairo University.


  • Decolonising Legal Concepts (Module Leader)
  • Law, Justice and Ethics
  • Global Law and Globalisation
  • Legal Skills and Methods

Postgraduate supervision

Shaimaa welcomes doctoral supervision in these areas:
• Third World Approaches to International Law
• Law and Development (specifically through a postcolonial lens)
• Critical Approaches to Human Rights
• Alternatives to Human Rights Practices
• Law, Gender and Sexuality (especially in black feminist thought)
• Law and Abolitionist Praxis


Shaimaa’s research contributes to the growing interest in alternative practices to human rights and practices of freedom in the nonliberal realm. Her research explores the basis of action in human rights. Her doctoral thesis unpacks the function of anti-colonial resistance and social movements in shaping human rights ideals and offers a psycho-social examination of the concept of resistance in human rights.

Shaimaa has taken on a few research projects that build on her doctoral thesis. Her research fellowship at the Hague Academy of International Law examined the implications of centering a human rights response to COVID-19. She deploys a counter-narrative to the exceptional framing of the pandemic and questions global health governance regimes that reproduce a stratifying hierarchy between first world and third world societies.

Shaimaa also maintains an active interest in third world approaches to international law (TWAIL), postcolonial legal theory, feminist legal thought and black studies. During her research fellowship at Melbourne Law School, she examined practices of sovereign recognition in the League of Nations in relation to shaping postcolonial agencies.

Currently, Shaimaa is working on the significance of black and Islamic feminist thought in challenging the securitisation of gender struggles in human rights. Her research is part of a broader project on Feminist Collaborative Ethos in International Law.


Recent publications


Abdelkarim, S 2023, 'Space-making 'after rights': Carcerality, rights-claims, and the practice of freedom', The International Journal of Human Rights. https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2023.2291079

Abdelkarim, S 2022, 'Subaltern subjectivity and embodiment in human rights practices', London Review of International Law. https://doi.org/10.1093/lril/lrac014

al Attar, M & Abdelkarim, S 2021, 'Decolonising the curriculum in international law: entrapments in praxis and critical thought', Law and Critique. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10978-021-09313-y

Abdelkarim, S 2021, 'Nuances of recognition in the League of Nations and United Nations: examining modern and contemporary identity deformations in Egypt', TWAIL Review, vol. 2021, no. 2, pp. 154-179. <https://twailr.com/twail-review/issue-2-2021/shaimaa-abdelkarim-nuances-of-recognition-in-the-league-of-nations-and-united-nations-examining-modern-and-contemporary-identity-deformations-in-egypt/>

Abdelkarim, S & Ferrini, A 2019, 'A Hospitable Encounter: Conversing Radio Ghetto Relay and Experiencing Tahrir', London Journal of Critical Thought.


Abdelkarim, S 2021, Global human rights praxis in public health and the response to Covid-19. in S Murase & S Zhou (eds), Epidemics and International Law . Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations Series, vol. 22, Brill, pp. 117-138. <https://brill.com/view/title/61755>

Conference article

Abdelkarim, S, Ghadery, F, Sen, R & holzer, L 2023, 'A Roundtable Conversation: Feminist Collaborative Ethos in International Law', Australian Feminist Law Journal, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 123-139. https://doi.org/10.1080/13200968.2023.2213055

Other contribution

Abdelkarim, S, Ghadery, F, Sen, R, Ramasubramanyam, J & Bagchi, K 2022, A Self-Reflexive Rebellion: Of Universality and False Empowerment of the Global South. Opinio Juris. <http://opiniojuris.org/2022/03/17/a-self-reflexive-rebellion-of-universality-and-false-empowerment-of-the-global-south/>

Abdelkarim, S 2021, Afghan Women and Resistance to the War on Terror. Verfassungsblog. https://doi.org/10.17176/20211009-181648-0

View all publications in research portal