Shea Esterling 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 Mauer 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 Central European University (Hungary), the University of Louvain (Belguim) and the University of Malta. She has taught courses on criminal law, 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 and New Zealand Society of International Law as the Early Career Research to represent New Zealand at the Seventh International Four Societies Conference. Hosted by the Japanese Society of International Law in conjunction with the American, Canadian and Australian and New Zealand societies, this conference 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 was awarded 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 at the Bonavero Institute, she will work on her current manuscript, which examines the relationship between indigenous rights and international courts with a focus on the mechanism of deference.