Shea Esterling

Senior LecturerDr Shea Esterling

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Qualifications & Memberships

Research Interests

Shea is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. She holds a JD from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and a diploma in International Humanitarian Law from the International Committee of the Red Cross. She completed her PhD at Aberystwyth University. Her research is at the intersection of human rights and cultural heritage law with focus on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Themes explored in her research include those related to cultural genocide, cultural identity, cultural property, essentialism, self-determination and restitution.

She has been an invited guest lecturer at the Central European University, the University of Louvain and the University of Malta. She has taught courses on international law, human rights and indigenous rights. In recognition of her teaching excellence, she is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Shea also has spoken at numerous conferences and is published across a wide range of subjects.

In 2018, Shea was selected by the Australian & New Zealand Society of International Law as the Early Career Research to represent New Zealand at the Seventh International Four Societies Conference, which supports outstanding new and emerging researchers in international law. In 2020, she was elected as the Co-Chair for the American Society of International Law Rights of Indigenous Peoples Interest Group.

In 2022, Shea will take up the award of a Canterbury Fellowship at Oxford. With this fellowship, she will spend three months as a Research Visitor at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford. While in residence, she will work on her current manuscript, which examines the relationship between indigenous rights and international courts.

Recent Publications

  • Esterling S. (2023) Indigenous Cultural Property and International Law: Restitution, Rights & Wrongs. London: Routledge.
  • Esterling S. (2020) Legitimacy, Participation and International Law- Making: ‘Fixing’ the Restitution of Cultural Property to Indigenous Peoples. In Scott K; Claussen K; Cote C-E; Kanehara A (Ed.), Changing Actors in International Law: 158-184. Leiden: Brill.
  • Esterling S., John-Hopkins M. and Harding C. (2020) Reflections on International Justice as a Commemorative Process. In Gilbert C; McLoughlin CM; Munro N (Ed.), On Commemoration: Global Reflections Upon Remembering War: 51-58. Bern: Peter Lang.
  • Esterling SE. (2017) Under the Umbrella: The Remedial Penumbra of Self-Determination, Retroactivity and the Restitution of Cultural Property to Indigenous Peoples. In Xanthaki A; Valkonen S; Heinamaki L; Nuorgam P (Ed.), Cultural Heritage and Indigenous Peoples: 294-326. Leiden: Brill.
  • Esterling S. (2013) One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The Restitution of Cultural Property in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Art Antiquity and Law (4 ed.): 323-344. Institute of Art and Law.