Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Research Student: Robert Rhodes

The history and practice of human rights activism in South East Europe, with particular case studies of LGBT rightsa dvocacy in former Yugoslavia

My final thesis was entitled: "Activist citizens: social movement theory, citizenship and the development of LGBT activism in Serbia". I focussed on exploring the relationship between the social, cultural and political context and the denial of citizenship to certain individuals within macro-historica ruptures such as warfare and nationalism. I examined how, in response, LGBT people have rejected the denial of citizenship, self-constituted themselves as citizens, and in my thesis I worked heavily with an associated concept of the 'activist citizen' who is engaged in attempts to reshape the meanings and boundaries of citizenship through activist tactics, conceptualised as 'acts of citizenship'.

The thesis was examined by Shirley Tate of the University of Leeds and Matthew Waites of the University of Glasgow. I am currently in the process of developing my thesis into a book for publication.

Research background

My background is in human rights and peace activism with a focus on anti-war movements and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, particularly in former Yugoslavia. I have worked throughout former Yugoslavia, and for international human rights organisations including Amnesty International. I hold a BA in Politics and East European Studies from the University of Nottingham, and a MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford as well as of course a PhD from the University of Leeds.

I have four main, interlinked research interests:

  • the history and mobilisation of human rights discourses
  • sexuality, especially LGBT histories and contemporary dialogues
  • the history, politics and cultures of the countries of the former Yugoslavia
  • the negotiation of human rights spaces and citizenship practices among marginalised minorities in hostile environments.



  • Battered Pride: Discrimination against and mistreatment of LGBT persons in Serbia (published through Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Belgrade, September 2005).

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