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Book Launch


Transparency: New Trajectories in Law

by Dr Rachel Adams


3 December 2020, 5pm – 6.30pm

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Online Seminar (Zoom)

This is, ostensibly, the information age. At the heart of the societal shift toward digitalisation is the call for transparency and the liberalisation of information and data. Yet, with the recent rise of concerns such as ‘fake news’, post-truth and misinformation, where the policy responses to all these phenomena has been a petition for even greater transparency, it becomes imperative to critically reflect on what this dominant idea means, whom it serves, and what the effects are of its power. In response, this book provides the first sustained critique of the concept of transparency in law and policy. It offers a concise overview of transparency in law and policy around the world, and critiques how this concept works discursively to delimit other forms of governance, other ways of knowing and other realities. It draws on the work of Michel Foucault on discourse, archaeology and genealogy, together with later Foucaultian scholars, including Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Judith Butler, as a theoretical framework for challenging and thinking anew the history and understanding of what has become one of the most popular buzzwords of 21st century law and governance. At the intersection of law and governance, this book will be of considerable interest to those working in these fields; but also to those engaged in other interdisciplinary areas, including society and technology, the digital humanities, technology laws and policy, global law and policy, as well as the surveillance society.

Presenter: Dr Rachel Adams, Senior Research Specialist, Human Sciences Research Council, SA and ILPC Associate Research Fellow 

Dr Rachel Adams is a Senior Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, and an Associate Research Fellow of the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), University of London. Her research lies at the intersection of philosophy, gender, technology, law and race, and she has published widely in these fields.

Rachel was previously led the work of the South African Human Rights Commission on civil and political rights, including authoring various reports to the United Nations. She completed a post-doctorate at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London. Dr Adams is the incoming Chair of the Independent Expert Panel of the South African Department of Science and Innovation’s Centre on Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR), and is leading various projects around AI, ethics and policy in South Africa, including the development of a policy brief series on AI, Data and Ethics which has been endorsed by the UN Global Pulse. She has further secured funding for her work around AI from the University of Cambridge’s Albadora grant, the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, and a grant of over $250,000 to support research in Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights and Ethics across the African region from Facebook.

Rachel is further a member of the Independent Advisory Group of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner for the UK Home Office, and an Editor of the South African Journal on Human Rights. She is the author of Transparency: New Trajectories in Law (Routledge, 2020), and the lead author of a forthcoming book with HSRC Press on Human Rights and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa (2021). Her work on gender and AI has been cited in, amongst others, Nature, The Guardian, the New York Times and by the United Nations.

Chair: Dr Nora Ni Loideain


Dr Fola Adeleke, Senior Lecturer, University of Witwatersrand
Dr Richard Danbury, Senior Lecturer, City University 
Prof Adam Gearey, Book Editor, Birbeck

The book is published by Routledge and can be purchased here.

N.B. This event is free but advanced booking is required. Please note the link to join the meeting will be sent out closer to the event date.