Deirdre Brennan

PhD Candidate

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Deirdre Brennan (BSc University College Cork and MA Utrecht University) is a PhD candidate at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness. Prior to joining the Centre, Deirdre worked in a variety of research roles on statelessness, including with the Statelessness Programme’s 2014 Thailand Project on the nexus between statelessness and human trafficking, on the 2015 Equal Rights Trust publication on gender discrimination in nationality laws, and most recently as a research fellow with the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion where she co-authored a children’s book on childhood statelessness, ‘The Girl Who Lost Her Country’. Her research interests concern the intersections between feminism, statelessness and activism, stemming from her personal connection to the transformative work of pro-choice activists in Ireland.

Thesis Title

Campaigning for citizenship in Nepal (2006 – 2018): Assessing how activism impacts upon law reform and the public perception of the stateless

Thesis Summary

The child of a Nepalese father automatically acquires nationality, while the child of a Nepalese mother must apply for nationality by naturalisation. This procedure is reported to be highly problematic and largely ineffective, with applications pending for years at a time without a response. Deirdre’s doctoral thesis focuses on activism among stateless communities in Nepal, specifically the potential impact of the social movement there to eradicate such gender discriminatory nationality laws. Activists there have been taking to the streets for well over a decade contesting these laws. Through their actions, activists are challenging gender roles and norms, a patriarchal society and public perceptions of statelessness that are aligned with shaming single mothers. By applying a feminist framework to her research, Deirdre aims to conceptualise patriarchy as a fundamental cause of statelessness and activism as a solution.


  • Statelessness
  • Citizenship Law
  • Agency
  • Feminist Theory
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Gender Studies
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Discrimination Law