Odette Mazel

PhD Candidate

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Odette is a PhD candidate at the Melbourne Law School and a Senior Research Fellow with the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Drawing on feminist, decolonial and queer theories, her work focuses on the rights and experiences of minority populations including LGBTQIA+ and Indigenous peoples and the cultural, social, political and legal avenues through which they pursue those rights. She is an Editorial Board Member of the Australian Feminist Law Journal and Managing Editor of the Queer Special Issue.

As Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne Poche Centre, Odette is responsible for leading the research and evaluation program to enhance the impact and reach of the Centre’s activities. Odette has previously worked as a Research Fellow and Senior Program Manager of the Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education Network and the Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements Project at The University of Melbourne, and with Australian Government Solicitor in South Australia. She holds a Master of Laws from The University of Melbourne and an honours degree in Law and Arts from Flinders University.

Thesis Title

Queer jurisprudence: LGBTQIA+ activism and legal reform in Australia

Thesis Summary

Queer theory exists in tension with LGBTQIA+ law reform projects. Queer theory’s commitments are radical and disruptive and operate to interrogate the discursive production of sexuality and gender and to problematise hidden relations of power and privilege in the institutional structures and systems with which we live and operate. Queer’s deconstructive and anti-normative tendencies, however, can be understood as antithetical to productive engagements by LGBTQIA+ people with law reform projects: the pursuit of equal rights framed in much of the queer scholarship as reinforcing heteronormative structures of knowledge and power and promoting normative ideas of monogamy, social productivity and gender identity. In my thesis, I reconfigure the tension between queer theory and law as generative, with a focus on LGBTQIA+ responses to legislating marriage equality. Drawing on Eve Sedgwick’s technique of reparative reading and Michel Foucault’s ethics of care of the self, and bringing these into relationship with the jurisprudential practices of Robert Cover, I develop an approach to reading and doing empirical legal research that highlights the queer sensibilities operating in the ways LGBTQIA+ people engage with law reform projects to instantiate a queer jurisprudence. What emerges from the stories of LGBTQIA+ people and their engagements with legal reform, I argue, are not themes of naivety, compliance or assimilation, as often charged, but ongoing commitments to difference, disruption, creativity and hope. LGBTQIA+ people working with the law in queer ways for transformative change.


  • Queer Theory
  • Sexual Identities and the Law
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Jurisprudence
  • Human Rights Law
  • International Law and Indigenous People
  • Law and Indigenous People
  • Law and Society
  • Post-Colonial Theory