The Human Right to a Name

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4 September 2019 at UNSW Law, Sydney

Recognizing the Human Right to a Name and the Implications for Giving and Changing Personal Names

Speaker: Alison Dundes Renteln 

Alison Dundes Renteln is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California, with joint appointments in Anthropology, Law, and Public Policy.*

Ideas Professor Reteln will speak to include that names serve as important symbolic representations of individual identities and as a crucial tool for state documentation of those who reside within their borders. Her analysis considers the extent to which the right to a name is protected under international law and general principles like privacy and freedom of expression. 

After analyzing the jurisprudential status of the right to a name, she will consider its application in cases involving the parental naming of children, i.e., giving names, and individuals who challenge government policies that force them to take their husbands’ surnames, i.e., changing names. Regulations governing the use of names illustrate the limits of law. This project demonstrates the importance of symbols for identity and how the law is employed to attempt to control the choice of particular symbols.

This talk concerns a forthcoming book from Professor Renteln, so stay tuned for details of that when available.

This talk is co-hosted by the Australian Human Rights Institute and the Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law, on this occasion in association with the research project, Constitutional Populism: Friend or Foe of Constitutional Democracy?

The event is free but registration is important to secure your seat.

*Professor Renteln teaches Law and Public Policy with an emphasis on comparative and international law. Her expertise includes American Politics, Comparative Politics, and Political Theory. A graduate of Harvard (History and Literature: Modern Europe), she has a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from the USC Gould School of Law. Her publications include The Cultural Defense (Oxford, 2004), Folk Law (University of Wisconsin, 1995), Multicultural Jurisprudence (Hart, 2009), Cultural Law (Cambridge, 2010), Global Bioethics and Human Rights (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), Images and Human Rights (Cambridge Scholars 2018), Personal Autonomy in Plural Societies: A Principle and Its Paradoxes (Routledge, 2018).