Helen Pringle

Senior Lecturer

Helen Pringle is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW.

Helen’s research interests are in human rights and justice (with a focus on questions of sex and gender), and in political theory (with a focus on 17th and 19th centuries). She is working on a project concerning the place of pornography within considerations of free speech, entitled ‘Practising Pornography’, and on a project concerning the regulation of religious speech. Helen is also involved in an international research project on ethnography, including a consideration of sexual slavery in early 20th century Queensland.

Research Areas

Human rights and justice (with a focus on questions of sex and gender); Political theory (with a focus on 17th and 19th centuries; Freedom of speech

Current Research Projects

Practising Pornography
A project concerning the place of pornography within considerations of free speech, which works by taking the notion of speech-acts seriously. Parts of the research project concern discrimination in the workplace, child pornography, and “ethno-pornography” in Australia.

John Stuart Mill and freedom of speech
This project reconsiders Mill’s classic defence of freedom of speech in light of his concerns about subordination and slavery.

Blasphemy and religious speech
This project involves a revisioning of the regulation of religious speech in Western secular contexts through laws against blasphemy and blasphemous libel, and anti-vilification provisions of discrimination laws.

Postgraduate Research Supervision

Areas of Supervision
Human rights, sex and gender (discrimination, abortion, pornography, prostitution and trafficking, sexual violence and assault), freedom of speech, ethics in public life, religion and politics, political theory and intellectual history (17th and 19th centuries in particular)

Recent Postgraduate Research Completions

  • Scott Denton, PhD Politics & International Relations, 2010, Laboring to win: The ALP’s defeat in the Cunningham by-election (2002)
  • Noela Davis, PhD Sociology, 2010, Material subjectivity: The performative entanglement of biology within sociality
  • Peter Balint, PhD Politics & International Relations, 2009, Respect, toleration and diversity: protecting individual freedom in liberal societies
  • Pongprad Soonthornpasuch, PhD Politics & International Relations, 2007, Sexual harassment: Perceptions, measures and laws in Thailand
  • Kate Gleeson, PhD Politics & International Relations, 2005, Consenting adults in private: In search of the sexual subject
  • Stephen Mutch, PhD Politics & International Relations, 2004, Cults, religion and public policy

Current Postgraduate Research Supervision

  • Ramona Vijeyarasa, PhD Politics & International Relations, The global traffic of women and girls for sexual and labour exploitation: A comparative assessment of the presumed underlying causes of trafficking from Ghana, Ukraine and Vietnam
  • Kanyanattha Ittinitiwut, PhD Politics & International Relations, The United Nations and the promotion of women's human rights in Thailand
  • Ashley Barnwell, PhD Sociology, Rethinking narrative: The politics of critique
  • Florence Chiew, PhD Sociology, Perceptual plasticity: Ecology and the social brain
  • Kwoh Jack Tan, PhD Politics & International Relations, Reading Singapore between international relations and post colonialism
  • Roya Sahraei, MA Womens & Gender Studies, Women in Modern Iran


Helen has received a number of awards and honours for teaching, including the Minister for Education & Training and Australian College of Educators NSW Quality Teaching Award (2010), UNSW Lecturer of the Year (2008), and the UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2007 and 1998)

Teaching areas
Sex, human rights and justice; freedom of speech; political theory

Current teaching
ARTS2845 Sex, Human Rights and Justice
ARTS3843 Modern Political Thought
POLS4000 Honours Seminar in Politics, Law and Justice



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