Danish Sheikh

PhD Candidate

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Danish Sheikh is a PhD candidate at the Melbourne Law School and a member of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities. His research is located at the intersections of law, literature and performance, drawing upon his work as an activist lawyer and theatre practitioner.

He has previously worked with the Alternative Law Forum, a collective of human rights lawyers based in Bangalore from 2011 to 2015, where he was involved in research and advocacy on gender and sexuality, free speech and access to knowledge. He then worked at the International Commission of Jurists on research and advocacy relating to access to justice issues for queer persons following which he took up a position as an Assistant Professor at the Jindal Global Law School. He has also served as a consultant with the United Nations Development Programme on a project relating to legal gender recognition across multiple Asian countries.

Danish has engaged with questions of law and justice through the theatrical space from 2015 when he founded the Bardolators, a group which does contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare plays in Delhi and Bangalore. Contempt, his first original play, was longlisted for the Hindu Playwright Award in 2017 and selected to open the Arcola Theatre in London's Festival of Global Queer Plays in 2018.

Danish has law degrees from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor which he attended on a Grotius Fellowship. His writing has been cited by the Supreme Court of India in 2018, shortlisted for the Jan Michalski Award in 2017 and won the Publishing Next Award in the same year.

Thesis Title

Reparative Jurisprudence

Thesis Summary

How might dissent be conducted in a manner that is reparative?  My thesis asks this question in the context of dissenting practices that emerge in relation to the colonial anti-sodomy law in India.

I identify moments of dissent across different spaces: in the theatre, in academic writing, in activist engagement, and in the space of legal pedagogy. The acts of dissent that I look at occupy a prefigurative mode, performing the change they intend to seek. Drawing upon theatre and performance studies, I track the reparative as it moves across different dissenting spaces; at times generating hope and evoking the utopian, at others providing a space for mourning and remembrance.


  • Cultural Legal Studies
  • Jurisprudence
  • Law and Literature
  • Law and Performance
  • Law and Society
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Queer Theory