Researcher biography

Professor Gelber researches freedom of speech, human rights and public discourse.

In her role at the Centre, Professor Gelber will be working on a project titled 'Assessing and responding to the harms of online speech'. The issue of harmful speech has never been more urgent or pressing for democratic governments, given the proliferation on the one hand of hate speech and terrorist extremism, and on the other hand the requirement to preserve free speech. Currently, different types of harmful speech are being regarded as essentially the same phenomenon, requiring the same regulatory response. This project will assess the similarities and differences between hate speech and terrorist extremism, and use that data to devise differentiated regulatory responses to them. This will help to develop policy that responds in a nuanced and effective way to these distinct phenomena.

She is the recipient of several ARC grants on these topics, including a Future Fellowship (2012-2015): 'Free Speech After 9/11'. In November-December 2017, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Global Freedom of Expression Project, Columbia University, New York. She also jointly hosted, with Prof Susan Brison, a workshop at the Princeton University Center for Human Values on, 'Free Speech and its Discontents'. In 2014, with Prof Luke McNamara, she was awarded the Mayer journal article prize for the best article in the Australian Journal of Political Science in 2013. In 2011 she was invited by the United Nations to be the Australian Expert Witness at a regional meeting examining States' compliance with the free speech and racial hatred provisions of international law. In 2009 she presented the Mitchell Oration in Adelaide on the topic 'Freedom of Speech and its Limits'.

Professor Gelber is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia, and an elected member of the Academic Board, University of Queensland 2018-2020. She is a former President of the Australian Political Studies Association, and still serves on its Executive Committee. She is Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the July 2018 World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Brisbane.