Biography

Roxana is the Principal Investigator of the Cameroon Conflict Research Group, a Postdoctoral Fellow of the British Academy, a Junior Research Fellow in Law, and a Lecturer in Criminal Law. She holds an LLB in Law with European Legal Studies, an LLM in International Economic Law, and a DPhil in Law.

Roxana’s research investigates the legal system through the prism of structural inequality. For the doctorate, she conducted an ‘ethnography at home’ and examined how one of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in England informally handled conflict before escalating it to the police. Roxana is in the final stages of reworking the doctoral thesis for publication – ‘A Precarious Life: Understanding class, race, and conflict in a deindustrialised town’ (contracted with Oxford University Press, Clarendon Series). She is presently building on these findings by examining how class and race affect children’s experiences of welfare and punishment in school.

In response to local requests, Roxana recently established a research group to investigate the Cameroon conflict. To date, she has set up several research fellowships and led on the production of two research reports. The first report documents human rights abuses committed before as well as during the conflict, and offers a socio-historical analysis of the tensions. The second report is an empirical piece of research, which draws on the experiences of 32 civilians trapped in the conflicted regions and details the involvement of international actors. Roxana will collaborate with colleagues in Cameroon to develop this pilot research into a longer-term project to support peace-seeking efforts.

Roxana’s research in Cameroon stems from working as a human rights advocate for two years in the North West Region. During a Voluntary Services Overseas post, Roxana co-founded a pro bono law chambers and secured funding from Allen and Overy. The chambers is internationally recognised and handles cases in all areas of law, including United Nations human rights petitions and decisions from the African Commission.

Publications

Displaying 1 - 13 of 13. Sorted by year, then title.
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  • R Willis, A Precarious Life: Understanding Class, Race, and Conflict in a Deindustralised Town (OUP 2021) (forthcoming)
  • R Willis, James Angove, Caroline Mbinkar and Joseph McAulay, ''We Remain Their Slaves': Voices from the Cameroon Conflict' (2020) SSRN
    Violence has torn through the anglophone regions of Cameroon since 2016. Despite the severity of the conflict, international response has been conspicuously limited. This report offers new insights into the Cameroon conflict and suggests a strategy for action. Findings stem from an empirical piece of research conducted by the Cameroon Conflict Research Group, based in the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. The Group interviewed 32 individuals in the anglophone regions of Cameroon, from a range of backgrounds, to learn more about the causes and experiences of the conflict. The report is directly shaped by these collective voices and embraces a socio-historical framework which stemmed from the research participants themselves – that of slavery. Resulting from this study, the report shows that a root cause of the conflict is socioeconomic inequality, for which multiple international actors, as well as the Cameroon government, are responsible. Accordingly, the Group offers five recommendations for action. Ultimately, the Group advises that peaceful resolution requires multilateral efforts from all responsible parties, some of whom are named within.
  • R Willis, J McAulay, N Ndeunyema and J Angove, Human Rights Abuses in the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis: A Submission of Evidence to UK Parliament (Oxford Human Rights Hub 2019)
    This Report documents gross human rights abuses that have been committed during the conflict in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon since 2016. The Report considers evidence of human rights abuses that have been committed by the Cameroonian State forces and by separatist groups in the anglophone regions, which includes the analysis of 400 pieces of photographic and video-graphic media material received via the messaging service WhatsApp between August 2018 and up to October 2019. In addition, reports on the human rights abuses by international organisations, non-governmental organisations and mainstream news media are reviewed. Five specific recommendations for action are offered.
  • R Willis and Carolyn Hoyle, 'The Good, The Bad, and The Street: Does ‘street culture’ affect offender communication and reception in restorative justice?' (2019) European Journal of Criminology
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1477370819887517
    This article examines whether and how ‘street culture’ affects offender communication and reception in restorative justice. Drawing on an archival dataset of police-led restorative justice conferences, we analysed the relationship between street cultural capital and offenders’ ability to communicate during restorative justice. We explored how offenders’ social background, measured by street cultural capital, and/or communication abilities affect third-party perceptions of offender sincerity and their likelihood to reoffend. Results indicate that the embodiment of street cultural capital may affect offender participation in restorative justice. Socioeconomically disadvantaged offenders appeared more likely to experience communication difficulties, and were less likely to be perceived by third parties as sincere or willing to desist from offending. These findings are considered within a theoretical framework that draws on Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital, Skeggs’ notion of inscription and Loftus’ research on ‘attitude tests’.
  • Bright, Weatherall and R Willis, 'Exploring the complexities of energy retrofit in mixed tenure social housing: a case study from England, UK' (2018) Energy Efficiency 1
    DOI: 10.1007/s12053-018-9676-y
    Article 19 of the Energy Efficiency Directive requires EU member states to address split incentives for energy efficiency between the multiple owners of buildings. But, building governance has been relatively neglected by researchers and policy makers working on Europe’s trajectory to a highly energy-efficient building stock. Taking a socio-legal approach, this paper illustrates the complexities that occur with retrofit of mixed tenure (social and private) apartment blocks and, more broadly, how building governance is a determinant of the costs and outcomes of refurbishment projects. Forty-two percent of Europeans live in apartments and mixed tenure apartment blocks and neighbourhoods have become more prevalent in Europe in recent decades. The paper focuses on a detailed study of a large refurbishment project of five tower blocks by Oxford City Council, involving external wall insulation and other energy efficiency measures. In addition to the Council’s social tenants, these blocks house significant numbers of private owners who have challenged the Council’s attempt to recover from them a share of the refurbishment costs. The experience of the Oxford project raises questions about aspects of property law, allocation of project costs and benefits, and issues of communication, engagement and decision-making. The paper also presents qualitative data gathered from social housing providers through a survey and roundtable meeting to provide an indication of the extent to which these issues are affecting energy efficiency refurbishment projects across England.
  • R Willis, 'A Comparative Analysis of Widow Dispossession in Francophone and Anglophone Cameroon' (2018) 62 Journal of African Law 147
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021855318000013
    Widows throughout sub-Saharan Africa may be at risk from dispossession when their husbands pass away. Whereas some scholars view widow dispossession as prevalent and global, others suggest that the issue is less common than claimed. This article contributes to understanding about the frequency of, and reasons for, widow dispossession through an empirical investigation of widowhood in Cameroon. By adopting a comparative method, working with similar groups in both francophone and anglophone regions, it presents preliminary findings. These findings include a higher awareness of widow dispossession in anglophone areas compared to francophone samples. Moreover, notably fewer marriages are legally registered in the anglophone dataset, compared to the francophone group, which may place anglophone widows at greater risk of dispossession. The article then assesses the impact of custom, religion, civil law and common law on the findings. In conclusion, it recommends the need for a holistic consideration of land rights.
  • R Willis, '‘Let’s talk about it’: Why social class matters to restorative justice' (2018) Criminology and Criminal Justice
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1748895818804307
    Communication is universal to human beings, regardless of gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality, disability and so forth. But though communication is a shared capacity, individuals and groups communicate in diverse ways. This study investigates how specifically social class influences participation in scripted restorative justice by affecting how participants communicate. Data from an ethnographic study indicate that restorative justice implementation is not class-neutral because it appears to privilege middle-class forms of communication, and participants from middle-class backgrounds may therefore be more powerfully positioned in restorative justice processes than participants from less advantaged backgrounds. To show this, a comparative methodology is adopted, which involves ethnographic observation and critical discussion of two contrasting restorative justice conferences. The implications of class-based linguistic disadvantage for restorative justice theory are subsequently discussed. The author recommends that restorative justice commits itself to an equality of opportunity which allows stakeholders to participate fully irrespective of their class background.
  • R Willis, 'Observations online: Finding the ethical boundaries of Facebook research ' (2017) Research Ethics
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016117740176
    Informed consent may be unobtainable in online contexts. This article examines the difficulties of obtaining informed consent online through a Facebook case study. It is proposed that there are at least two ways informed consent could be waived in research: first, if the data are public, and second, if the data are textual. Accordingly, the publicness of the Facebook News Feed is considered. Taking account of the wide availability of Facebook users’ data, and reflecting on how public those users perceive their information to be, this paper argues that some Facebook data are properly viewed as public to semi-public in nature. A second issue is whether the Facebook News Feed data collection ought to be classified as document-based or human subjects research. Since the Facebook News Feed involves social interaction that may elicit ‘ethically important moments’, this paper proposes that observing it may constitute human subjects research. While informed consent is desirable for human subjects research, it is suggested that Facebook News Feed observations are comparable to observational research in a public space, and thus waiving informed consent in this online setting could be justifiable.
  • Hoyle and R Willis, 'The challenge of integrating restorative justice into the “deep-end” of criminal justice: A case study from Northamptonshire, UK' in Blomberg, T. et al. (ed), Advancing Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy (Routledge 2016)
  • R Willis, 'Three Approaches to Community in Restorative Justice' (2016) 4 Restorative Justice: An International Journal 1
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/20504721.2016.1197521
    Restorative justice involves three categories of stakeholder: victims, offenders and community. Despite the apparent importance of community, what is meant by ‘community’ has received limited attention in restorative justice to date. This article contributes to efforts to bridge this gap by critically examining approaches to community in the restorative justice literature, in the context of wider theoretical community debates. Three approaches to community are identified: the community-of-care approach, which emphasises relational ties; the community-of-place approach, which emphasises geographical locality; and the danger of community, which highlights a dark side to community. The practical application of this theoretical framework is then demonstrated through an exploratory case study of a young person’s experiences with a Youth Offender Team in England. By sharing an individual case study of multiple forms of restorative justice, and the effects of different approaches to community engagement, it is hoped this research will appeal to practitioners and academics alike.

Centres

Research projects

Research Interests

Social class, race, inequality, conflict, restorative justice, criminal law, land law

Options taught

Criminal Law (Mods)

Research projects