Dr Roxana Willis

Assistant Professor of Law

LSE Law School

Room No
Cheng Kin Ku Building 6.01
Key Expertise
Class and race inequality in Britain, criminal justice, legal philosophy

About me

Roxana joined LSE Law School as an Assistant Professor in January 2023. Her research investigates the legal system through the prism of structural inequality, with a focus on class and race. Roxana’s first monograph, A Precarious Life, presents a long-term ‘ethnography at home’ on a disadvantaged housing estate in England. In the book, Roxana draws on legal anthropology, philosophical enquiry, and the history of ideas to offer a fresh account of criminal law from the perspectives of those who are often brought under its remit. In addition to working within her home community, Roxana is interested in the interconnections between people and continents, and in this vein she examines similar themes of conflict, violence, and structural inequality in the context of Cameroon.

Roxana has taught in the areas of law, criminology, and research methods. This includes five years lecturing in Criminal Law at the University of Oxford and two years lecturing in Crime Policy at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. She currently teaches Criminal Law and Family Law at LSE.

Before arriving at LSE, Roxana completed a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Junior Research Fellowship at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford, and a Stipendiary Junior Research Fellowship in Law at University College, Oxford. She holds an LLB in Law with European Legal Studies from the University of Kent and Charles University, Prague; an LLM in International Economic Law from SOAS, London; and a DPhil in Law from the University of Oxford.

Research interests

  • Class and race inequality
  • Criminal law
  • Conflict and violence
  • Ethnography and legal anthropology
  • Legal history (especially the making of the modern law and the emergence of civil order)
  • Legal philosophy
  • Social philosophy
  • Decolonial methodology
  • Theatre of the oppressed
  • West African law and philosophy



A Precarious Life: Community and conflict in a deindustrialized town (2023, Oxford University Press, Clarendon Series)

 A Precarious Life offers an internal view of conflict among one of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in Britain. The long-term 'ethnography at home' is narrated through the life and death of the author's father, Paul, who worked in the coke ovens of the Corby steelworks until its closure in 1980. After closure, Paul ran a mobile grocery shop on his council estate and surrounding areas, which suffered an assortment of injuries in the post-industrial decades that followed. By engaging closely with the social practices of Paul and members of his relational community, this book provides a rare emic account of the classed and racialized tensions that occur within a precariously situated subsection of society. Through this process, layers of meaning are noticed, articulated, and deployed to make intelligible communal tensions. As the chapters progress, a complex ethical terrain is brought into view, where moral conflicts and dilemmas are rife. From this new perspective, a disjuncture becomes apparent between top-down theories that guide the criminal law, on the one hand, and norms that make better sense of the social world navigated by residents on an over-criminalized estate, on the other. A Precarious Life calls on legal scholars to understand better and engage with this alternative normative order, which embraces an ethics of honesty, relationality, solidarity, and care-captured by the central notion of mutuality.

click here for publisher's site


Public engagement

Outreach teaching (selected)
  • Lecturer at Grendon Prison Learning Together Programme (January 2019)
  • Mentor in the “What If…” Rap Project with socioeconomically disadvantaged young people in Blackbird Leys, Oxford (August 2018)
  • Opportunity Programme Tutor, University College, University of Oxford (August 2017 – July 2020)

 Civil engagement and project management (selected)
  • Founding Partner of ALL for Cameroon, Law Chambers (November 2009 – ongoing) – a pro bono law chambers providing free legal services in all areas of law in the North West Region of Cameroon for those unable to otherwise afford it.
  • Creator and Manager of Hearing Young Voices (October 2016 – July 2017) – a public engagement drama project which involved supporting children excluded from mainstream education create and perform their own plays on youth mental health.
  • Creator and Manager of Healing Minds (July 2013 – October 2014) – an international research project, involving a network of researchers, psychiatrists, policymakers, and theatre practitioners which encouraged public engagement with mental health research in India.
  • Creator and Manager of Act for Change in Cameroon (October 2012 – June 2013) – a drama and arts exchange project between University of Oxford students and youth actors in Cameroon, resulting in 10 interactive community plays and a performance on national television.
  • Adviser, Voluntary Services Overseas (October 2009 – September 2011) – supporting local government in Cameroon during a period of decentralisation.