School of Law, Gender and Media

Professor David Renton

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Professor of Practice in ICOP and Law


David joined SOAS as a Professor of Practice in 2021. He is also historian and a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, where he has represented clients in some of the leading employment and housing cases of the past decade.

David has represented blacklisted construction workers, teachers calling for Covid lockdowns, and supporters of the Occupy Movement in courts including the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights. His cases have been at the cutting edge of trade union law, anti-union discrimination, and the protection of free speech.

Before he joined SOAS, he was previously a Visiting Professor in Sociology at Johannesburg University and for several years a national (Equality) official of the University and Colleges Union. David is the author of more than twenty books of history, social and legal theory, which have been translated into a dozen different languages. His work addresses: the history of anti-racism and anti-fascism; the definitions of populism, authoritarianism and fascism; the impact of Covid on housing and employment law; whether and when it is appropriate to restrict freedom of expression; and how liberation movements can prevent discrimination from re-emerging within their own ranks.

He is now working on a project which addresses why the law has come to absorb areas of political controversy, how projects to roll back the expansion of the law can end up entrenching class and social power and whether social movements should work with or against the law. He also writes regularly for the Guardian and London Review of Books.

He regularly writes on his blog and tweets at @livesrunning and @dkrenton.