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Belen Mattos Castaneda

Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistant in the Durham Law School


Belén joined Durham Law School in October 2022 as a PhD candidate, working on the intersection of gender and criminal law. She holds an AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Studentship. Her thesis is titled “Analysis of gender/class (in)sensitive responses in criminal sentences of women convicted for causing the death of their newborn children in Argentina”.

She obtained her Law degree (LLB) from the Universidad Nacional del Nordeste in Argentina. She completed a Dual Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of York and Universidad de Oviedo (Spain), funded by an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, and her dissertation was awarded a distinction. From 2019 to 2022 she worked as a Research Fellow for her home institution in Argentina, on a project on reproductive justice. Belén is a licensed attorney in Argentina; in the past, she has practised Family Law, and has been part of her home Law School’s pro-bono clinic, offering free legal services to women survivors of domestic violence. She has also been an intern at the Organization of American States (OAS). In 2023, Belén was awarded a Friends of Fulbright scholarship to attend the University of New Mexico Institute for Young Leaders: ‘Leading Peace Through Policy Making’.

Alongside her research, Belén is currently working as a Part-Time Tutor in the UK Constitutional Law module and is a Fellow in the Law with Foundation Programme at Durham’s Centre for Academic Development (DCAD).

Current Research

Belén is working under the supervision of Dr Emma Milne and Prof Clare McGlynn. Her research project examines the underlying gender and class biases that might permeate judicial discourses in court decisions of women accused of killing their newborns, framing these in terms of violence against women. The study will conduct a qualitative analysis of court transcripts of criminal cases including ‘homicide aggravated due to family bond’ and ‘person abandonment’, pronounced between 2019-2022 in Argentina. The findings of this work will determine the legal consequences of sentences potentially tarnished by misogynistic and classist assumptions regarding the defendants under Argentinean legislation, understanding these as ‘institutional symbolic gender-based violence’. 


Conference paper

Mattos Castañeda, B. (2024). Gender stereotypes and the criminalisation of negative pregnancy outcomes in Latin America. 2024 PhD Criminology Conference, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, 22-23 April 2024, Cambridge.

Mattos Castañeda, B. (2023). Anti-rights practices and government responses: Analysing the post-legalisation landscape of abortion in Argentina. Pregnancy & the Law Workshop, University of Southampton, 13 September 2023, Southampton.

Mattos Castañeda, B. (2023). (Un)Motherhood, madness and crime: pathologising courtroom discourses in cases of infanticide in Argentina. 23rd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology (EUROCRIM), 6-9 September 2023, Florence.

Mattos Castañeda, B (2022). Institutional symbolic violence against women prosecuted in cases of obstetric emergencies in the city of Corrientes, Argentina [Violencia simbólica institucional contra mujeres condenadas por emergencias obstétricas en la ciudad de Corrientes, Argentina]. XXIX Meeting of Youth Researchers of the Montevideo Group Universities Association (AUGM) [XXIX Jornadas de Jóvenes Investigadores de la Asociación de Universidades Grupo Montevideo], 7-9 September 2022, Universidad San Francisco Xavier, Sucre (Bolivia).

Mattos Castañeda, B (2021). Consideration of the factors of vulnerability of women offenders criminalised for obstetric emergencies by the courts of the Province of Corrientes, Argentina [Análisis de la consideración del contexto de vulnerabilidad de mujeres condenadas por emergencias obstétricas por los Tribunales Orales Penales de la Provincia de Corrientes (Argentina)]. XXVIII Meeting of Youth Researchers of the Montevideo Group Universities Association (AUGM) [XXVIII Jornadas de Jóvenes Investigadores de la Asociación de Universidades Grupo Montevideo], 10-12 November 2021, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Santiago de Chile.



Mattos Castañeda, B. (2021). Lack of gender-sensitive approaches and symbolic violence against women in criminal convictions in cases of obstetric emergencies in the Province of Corrientes, Argentina [Falta de perspectiva de género y violencia simbólica en las sentencias penales en casos de emergencias obstétricas en Corrientes]. RIUNNE,

Mattos Castañeda, B. (2020). Institutional violence against the reproductive freedom of people capable of pregnancy [Violencia institucional contra la libertad reproductiva de personas con capacidad de gestar]. RIUNNE,

Research groups

Gender & Law at Durham (GLAD), Co-Deputy Director

Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice (CCLCJ) 

Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA) 

Research interests

  • Criminal Justice
  • Human rights
  • Reproductive rights
  • Violence against women