Nicola Piper

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2016/2017
discipline Sociology and Social Policy
Director Asia Pacific Master of Human Rights and Democratisation, The University of Sydney

Research project

Reconceptualising Migrant Rights in a Global and Transnational Context


This project addresses the regulation of worker migration from a labour rights perspective set within a global and transnational context. The emergence of global migration governance, that is the increasing cooperation of states on a common framework for regulating the cross-border movement of people, occurs in an era of eroding labour standards, weakened trade union power and restrictive practices towards freedom of cross-border mobility of workers globally. These trends are reflected in the fragmented institutional structure of migration governance, comparatively low ratification rates of migrant-worker specific international human rights instruments, as well as in the marginal position of the International Labour Organisation—the crucial player with regard to the upholding of labour rights.


Parallel, and partly in response, to these institutional processes surrounding migration governance that have so far shown little concern for the upholding of labour rights, a global migrant rights movement has arisen, comprised of trade unions and migrant associations from around the world. The key advocacy issues are the "right to work" and "rights at work" at both ends of the migration process: in country of origin as well as destination. Furthermore, if migrants are to become "agents of development", better working conditions and effective "labour governance" would be the way to go.


The question which arises from this scenario is how to advance the rights of migrants as workers in this current institutional climate characterized by fragmentation and marginalization of the ILO: by focusing on their human rights as migrants, that is as non-citizens, or, alternatively, their labour rights as workers? Taking the activist perspective as the starting point, the hypothesis advanced here is twofold: (i) that movement practices in migrant rights networks are putting forward increasingly coherent claims that transcend the conventional thinking about human rights (rights-assuming advocacy); and (ii) such practices are effectively transgressing inter-state political arenas (participatory, rights-producing politics). To test the hypothesis, fieldwork based on a multi-method approach in key sites of migration governance with key international organisations and relevant civil society organisations that span labour rights, human rights and development will be undertaken.




Nicola Piper is the Director of the Sydney Asia Pacific Migration Centre at the University of Sydney. She holds a Ph.D in Sociological Studies from the University of Sheffield. Her research interests lie in the influence of civil society actors on the governance of migration ("governance from below") at multiple institutional levels, with specific focus on the promotion and advancement of migrants' rights. She has been working on developing a concept of "migrant rights" beyond dominant legalistic approaches as well as classical citizenship conceptions.


Selected publications


'Unifying Speech and Language in a Developmentally Sensitive Model of Production', Journal of Phonetics, vol. 53, 2015, pp. 141-152.


The Handbook of Speech Production, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, 2015.


'The Perceived Clarity of Children’s Speech Varies as a Function of Their Default Speech Rate', Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 135, 2014, pp. 2952-2963.


'Control of Task Sequences: What Is the Role of Language?', with U. Mayr, K. Kleffner & A. Kikumoto, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, vol. 40, 2014, pp. 376-384.


'Interactions between Lexical and Phrasal Prosody in School-Aged Children’s Speech', with I.A. Shport, Journal of Child Language, vol. 41, 2014, pp. 890-912.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Psychology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Literature
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline History and Law
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Literature