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School of Law

The Role of Free Speech within Democracy

15 February 2019

Time: 12:00 - 6:30pm
Venue: Room 313, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

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This event is hosted by the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (IHSS) and the Centre for Law, Democracy and Society (CLDS) at Queen Mary University of London.

What is the status of free speech in contemporary democratic institutions? What kind of speech is and should be protected? And who is tasked with ensuring its protection? This seminar gathers scholars from law, geography, philosophy, and politics to consider the origins of free speech in democratic institutions and to discuss and debate its effectiveness in ensuring democratic legitimacy.

Seminar Program

Arrival and Lunch Welcome

Introductory Remarks
12:45 – 13:00
Professor Eric Heinze (QMUL)

Panel I: Democracy, Free Speech, and Human Rights
13:00 – 14:30
Chair: Dr Robert Simpson (Philosophy – UCL London)

Political Voice in a Changing World

Dr Manjeet Ramgotra (Politics and International Relations – SOAS)

Why US Free Speech Law is Bad for Democracy

Professor Gavin Phillipson (Law – University of Bristol)

Anti-Universal Human Rights: From Ontological to Discursive Foundations

Professor Eric Heinze (QMUL)

Panel II: Free Speech and Historical Legacies
14:30 – 15:30
Chair: Professor Alison Scott-Bauman (History, Religions, and Philosophies – SOAS London)

Free Speech about Histories of Human Rights Abuse

Professor Emanuela Fronza (Law– University of Bologna)

Symbols and the Politics of Memory

Dr Hrvoje Cvijanović (Politics – University of Zagreb)

Tea / Coffee: 15:30 – 15:50

Panel III - Free Speech in Higher Education –Part One
16:00 – 17:00
Chair: Dr Jacob Rowbottom (Law - Oxford)

The moral policing of words in higher education

Dr Thomas Brudholm and Dr Birgitte S. Johansen (Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies – University of Copenhagen)

Universities and Democratic Legitimacy

Dr Robert Simpson (Philosophy – UCL London)

Panel IV - Free Speech in Higher Education –Part Two
17:00 – 18:00

Students and the Future of Democracy

Professor Alison Scott-Bauman (History, Religions, and Philosophies – SOAS London)

No-platforming and Safe Spaces: Should universities censor more (or less) speech than the law requires?

Professor Eric Heinze (QMUL)


For directions to the venue, please refer to the map.


For more information on this event, please email

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School of Law events may be photographed or video and audio recorded. These materials will be used for internal and external promotional purposes only by Queen Mary University of London. If you object to appearing in the photographs, please let our photographer know on the day. Alternatively you can email in advance of the event that you are attending.