Laura Smith-Khan

Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow
University of Technology
Sydney, Australia

laura smith-khan portraitRead Laura's December 2021 and May 2020 Spotlights on Language, Culture and Justice.

I am currently a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney. Commencing in January 2019, my current project explores how Australian migration lawyers and agents communicate with and on behalf of their clients. I am co-founder of the Law and Linguistics Interdisciplinary Researchers' Network, with Dr. Alexandra Grey.

My doctoral research (pdf), conducted at Macquarie University and supervised by Professor Ingrid Piller (Linguistics) and Dr. Daniel Ghezelbash (Law), explored credibility, language and communication in Australia's refugee policy, procedures and public discourse. I have published and presented my research across a number of media, both in Australia and overseas.

I have also conducted multisite fieldwork across six countries, researching disability in refugee camps and urban refugee settings. With the chief investigators, Professors Mary Crock, Ron McCallum and Ben Saul, from the Sydney Centre for International Law, Sydney Law School, I have presented the project findings at the United Nations, at conferences in Australia, Europe and North America, and in published reports, peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. In 2017, my team and I published a book, "The Legal Protection of Refugees With Disabilities: Forgotten and Invisible?" that brings together the project's major findings. In 2018, I was commissioned to prepare a background paper for UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring Report. I am also a regular contributor to the online research portal, Language on the Move.

I hold a bachelor of arts in languages, with distinction, and a bachelor of laws, with honors, from the University of Sydney; a graduate diploma in legal practice from Australian National University; a master's in applied linguistics from Monash University; and a Doctor of Philosophy from Macquarie University. I have been admitted as a lawyer in the NSW Supreme Court and worked with refugees and other migrants in a paralegal and pro-bono capacity. I have taught legal ethics and professional practice, public international law, human rights and global governance, refugee law and policy, and common law and legal reasoning, and assisted with postgraduate and undergraduate assessments in linguistic ethnography and literacy.

Areas of Interest

  • Critical discourse studies and language ideologies
  • Language and communication in migration law and practice
  • Legal practice and its regulation
  • Refugee law and procedures
  • Human rights
  • Disability in migration

Relevant Publications

Recent traditional outputs (with links to publicly available and published versions)

  • Smith-Khan, L. 2019, "Communicative Resources and Credibility in Public Discourse on Refugees," Language in Society, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 403-427.View/download from UTS OPUS or publisher's site.
  • Smith-Khan, L. 2019, "Debating Credibility: Refugees and Rape in the Media," Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 4-36.View/download from UTS OPUS or publisher's site.
  • Smith-Khan, L. 2019, "Migration Practitioners' Roles in Communicating Credible Refugee Claims," Alternative Law Journal, 1037969X1988420-1037969X1988420. View/download from UTS OPUS or publisher's site.
  • Smith-Khan, L. 2017, "Different in the Same Way? Language, Diversity, and Refugee Credibility," International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 389-416.View/download from UTS OPUS or publisher's site.
  • Smith-Khan, L. 2017, "Negotiating Narratives, Accessing Asylum: Evaluating Language Policy as Multilevel Practice, Beliefs and Management," Multilingua, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 31-57.View/download from UTS OPUS or publisher's site.
  • Smith-Khan, L. 2017, "Telling Stories: Credibility and the Representation of Social Actors in Australian Asylum Appeals," Discourse and Society, vol. 28, no. 5, pp. 512-534.View/download from UTS OPUS or publisher's site.

Recent Conference Presentations

  • Grey, A. & Smith-Khan, L. (2019). Panel co-convenors and panelists, "Linguistic Diversity as a Challenge for Legal Policy in Australia," Australian Linguistics Society Annual Conference, 11-13 December 2019, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Smith-Khan, L. & Grey, A. (2019). "Developing Research Collaboration Across Law and Linguistics." Invited plenary panel presentation. Conference of the Australian and NZ Associations of von Humboldt Fellows: Sharing knowledge in the spirit of Humboldt, 22-24 November 2019, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Smith-Khan, L. (2019). "Contesting Credibility in Australian Refugee Decision-making," 14th International Association of Forensic Linguists Biennial Conference, 1-5 July 2019, RMIT, Melbourne.

Recent Nontraditional Outputs