Current Scholars

2016-2017

Members

Lori A. Allen
Lalaie Ameeriar
Fadi A. Bardawil
Ruha Benjamin
Céline Bessière
Nick Cheesman
Marcello Di Bello
Andrew Dilts
Karen Engle
Lee Ann Fujii
Vanja Hamzić
David Kazanjian
 

 

Jaeeun Kim
Sida Liu
Allegra M. McLeod
Reuben Jonathan Miller
Jonathan Morduch
Juan Obarrio
Ayşe Parla
Peter Redfield
Amr Shalakany
Massimiliano Tomba
Emily Zackin
Linda M. G. Zerilli

Visitors

Amy Borovoy
Linda Bosniak
Anne-Claire Defossez
Donald W. Light Term 1
Pascal Marichalar
Elizabeth Mertz Term 1
Sophie Meunier
Sherally Munshi
Yüksel Sezgin Term 2
Teng Biao
 

Members

       

Lori A. Allen
SOAS, University of London
Anthropology
West Building 313
(609) 734-8258
lallen@ias.edu

 

 

This project offers a major reconsideration of international politics by analyzing Palestinian engagement with an oft-deployed but rarely studied global governance technology: the investigative commission. Commissions reveal a great deal about political epistemologies, the social processes and categories by which proof and evidence are produced and mobilized in political claim-making, and offer a lens onto systems of political thought and global institutions through which Palestinian worthiness to self-rule has been debated and evaluated. Based on ethnographic interviews and archival research, the project analyzes six commissions convened in Palestine over the past century. In historicizing the ways in which Palestinians have engaged developmentalism, humanitarian sensibilities, the UN, and human rights law as contested fields of power through commissions, I show how they have functioned as a liberal colonial device—one that operates on a pretense to consultation, fostering a belief in the existence of a global moral community guided by reason.

 

 

       

Lalaie Ameeriar
University of California,
Santa Barbara
Anthropology
West Building 319
(609) 734-8350
lalaie@ias.edu

 

Lalaie Ameeriar's current research explores the relationship between women's rights, human rights and humanitarianism through an analysis of legal protections involving cases of forced marriage and so called honor killings within Muslim communities in the United Kingdom. This research examines the disjunction between the law and the community and between human rights and humanitarianism, particularly where these coalesce within discourses regarding women’s rights in marginalized communities.

 

 

       

Fadi A. Bardawil
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Anthropology
West Building 117
(609) 951-4527
bardawil@ias.edu

 

Fadi A. Bardawil investigates the traditions of intellectual inquiry, practices of public criticism, and modalities of political engagement of contemporary Arab intellectuals, both at home and in the diaspora. In doing so, he tracks the international circulation of theoretical discourses, their translations and political appropriations. His current project examines the high tides and ebbing away of Leftist revolutionary thought and practice in the Levant.

 

 

       

Ruha Benjamin
Princeton University
African American Studies
West Building 118
(609) 951-4442
ruha@ias.edu

 

Following the completion of the Human Genome Project, private companies and public initiatives have busily sought to parse the small portion of the genome that differs across populations. My project investigates the relationship between science, law, and society in the wake of new genomic sovereignty policies that restrict foreign access to a population’s genetic information—South African DNA, Indian DNA, and Mexican DNA among others. Are such developments a misguided reassertion of nationalism, an empowering example of postcolonial science policy, or something else entirely? In addressing this question, I draw upon in-depth interviews, participant observation, and a mixed archive of documents and media to examine how genomic knowledge circulates across three main sites—government initiatives, private enterprises, and subaltern mobilization. Whereas social scientists are trained to be wary about the resurgence of biological determinism, I argue that genomics is powerful and problematic due to its epistemic agility (making competing knowledge claims) and normative dexterity (asserting conflicting political claims), rather than its strict enforcement of hierarchy.

 

 

       

Céline Bessière
Paris-Dauphine University
Sociology
West Building 312
(609) 734-8264
cbessiere@ias.edu

 

Céline Bessière is interested in family justice as an institution which maintains and justifies wealth inequality in contemporary France. She carries out an ethnographic and statistical research of the legal and judicial treatment of patrimonial transfers and marital breakdowns, as these are two crucial moments in family settlements.

 

 

       

Nick Cheesman
The Australian National University
Politics
West Building 336
(609) 734-8274
ncheesman@ias.edu
 

 

 

How does torture persist worldwide? Positing that torture is not just a problem of instrumentality, I aim to understand the political arrangements by virtue of which it exists. While at the Institute, I will be working on theoretical explanations, and bringing them into dialogue with Southeast Asian case studies.

 

 

 

 

   

Marcello Di Bello
Lehman College,
City University of New York
Philosophy
West Building 316
(609) 734-8366
marcello.dibello@ias.edu

 

In recent years, statistics, probability, and quantitative evidence more generally have become increasingly common in criminal trials. My project examines the use of statistics and probability in criminal trials as a lens to think about the fair trial, the right to a defense, and the requirement that guilt be established beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

 

       

Andrew Dilts
Loyola Marymount University
Political Science
West Building 310
(609) 951-4465
dilts@ias.edu

 

Andrew Dilts is a political theorist who works primarily on the relationships between race, sexuality, political membership, sovereignty, and punishment in the United States. His current project traces how contemporary white supremacy in the United States is not a contingent aspect of political ideology and legal practice, but rather is built into the core of the neoliberal subjectivity and techniques of government that presume an idealized "free" subject. In response, they offer an account of how we might better question, resist, and ultimately destroy white supremacist and hetero-patriarchal institutions and practices drawing on the tradition of abolitionist movements in the United States and, in particular, the work of queer and trans prison abolitionists.

 
   

 

   

Karen Engle
University of Texas at Austin
Law
West Building 331
(609) 734-8269
kengle@ias.edu

 

Karen Engle is a legal scholar specializing in international human rights law and advocacy, particularly as they intersect with women’s rights and indigenous rights movements. Her current project critically maps the relatively recent turn to criminal law in human rights, situating it in the post-Cold War, neoliberal era in which it has emerged.

 

 

       

Lee Ann Fujii
University of Toronto
Political Science
West Building 116
(609) 734-8172
lafujii@ias.edu

 

What explains violent display? By violent display, I mean a coordinated, collective effort to stage violence for others to see, gaze upon, or take in. Violent displays occur across different contexts and involve a range of actors, from soldiers and police to ordinary men, women, and children. Examples include spectacle lynchings in the U.S., the videotaped beheadings by the Islamic State, and the sexual tortures perpetrated at Abu Ghraib. To maximize theoretical insight into violent display, the project uses a "most different system" design. It compares three episodes that occurred in divergent contexts: a massacre of civilian men during the Bosnian war; the lynching of a black man during Jim Crow; and the killing of a prominent family during the Rwandan genocide. The theoretical focus is on the pathways and mechanisms that are similar across the three sites, while analytic attention is on the contextual layers that shaped the local process through which the violence unfolded. Data come from over one hundred interviews that I conducted in the rural communities where the episodes took place. Additional data come from primary sources, including local newspaper accounts, police records and affidavits, and trial transcripts.

 

 

       

Vanja Hamzić
SOAS, University of London
Law, History, & Anthropology
West Building 311
(609) 734-8277
vhamzic@ias.edu

 

 

Vanja Hamzić is looking into the ways the law relates to human subjectivity formation, especially with regard to various historical and present-day Muslim gender-variant communities. He is interrogating praxis and insurrectionary vernacular knowledge as broad analytical categories, applicable to modes of resistance to formal justice systems.

 
         

David Kazanjian
University of Pennsylvania
American Studies & Latin American Studies
West Building 309
(609) 734-8267
dkazanjian@ias.edu

 

David Kazanjian is examining dispossession in colonial New England and Yucatán. Focusing on court cases of indentured and enslaved Afro-diasporans, he considers how racial capitalism works not simply to take possessions like labor and land from exploited subjects, but also to possess or invest such subjects with racial being, and how Afro-diasporans responded by repurposing race. These cases also urge us to revise contemporary theories of accumulation by dispossession by unsettling foundationalist understandings of ownership.

 

 

       

Jaeeun Kim
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor
Sociology & Religion
West Building 308
(609) 734-8283
jaeeunk@ias.edu

 

My current project examines the hitherto underexplored nexus of migration, religion, and nation-states, focusing on the asylum-seeking of unauthorized migrants on religious grounds. Drawing on multisited ethnographic research, I situate asylee-making in the regime of "probationary citizenship" of contemporary immigration states, in which various state and non-state actors mobilize multiple, and often mutually contradictory, understandings of the "redeemability" of unauthorized migrants.

 

 

       

Sida Liu
University of Toronto
Sociology
West Building 333
(609) 734-8268
sidaliu@ias.edu

 

Sida Liu’s theoretical interests focus on understanding the social processes that produce the shape of social spaces. His current empirical project uses the case of lawyer mobilization in China to examine the ecology of political activism. Meanwhile, he is also writing an essay tracing the theoretical lineage of social space in the Chicago School tradition.

 

 

       

Allegra M. McLeod
Georgetown University
Law & Political Theory
West Building 338
(609) 734-8275
mcleod@ias.edu

 

Allegra McLeod’s current research focuses broadly on efforts to radically reform criminal and immigration law enforcement. One current project critically engages the globalization of U.S. crime control initiatives and a second project explores prison abolitionist movements, which aim to end the racialized brutality of U.S. carceral practices.

 

 

       

Reuben Jonathan Miller
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor
Sociology of Punishment &
Social Welfare
West Building 306
(609) 734-8263
rmiller@ias.edu

 

Reuben Jonathan Miller’s research examines life at the intersection of punishment and social welfare policy. His project, an ethnography of prisoner reentry in Chicago and Detroit, demonstrates how emergent techniques of state and third-party supervision have transformed citizenship, activism, public health, community, and family life in this carceral age.

 

 

       

Jonathan Morduch
New York University
Economics
West Building 113
(609) 734-8167
jmorduch@ias.edu

 

 

I am interested in ways that markets and states shape the dynamics of poverty and inequality. My project this year focuses on blurring lines between profit-driven business and socially-driven investment. The project describes the contradictions and opportunities created by this blurring, and what they imply for economic theory.

 

 

 

 

       

Juan Obarrio
Johns Hopkins University
Anthropology
West Building 329
(609) 734-8033
juan_obarrio@ias.edu

 

This comparative study of five case studies from Africa undertakes an examination of articulations and clashes between liberal rule of law and local norms through an analysis of three main instances: a) sites of access to justice and locales of dispute resolution; b) post-conflict contexts and transitional justice; and c) land property, disputes and juridico-political imaginations on land. The project centers on the historical trajectory and current predicament of the figure of the postcolonial citizen in the context of the striking resurgence, over the past three decades, of customary law, "autochthony" politics, and figures of traditional juridical authority. The main research question is: how are liberal African democratic regimes of rule of law inflected by the resilience and revitalization of customary norms, and the force and legitimacy of local figures of traditional juridico-political power?

 

 

       

Ayşe Parla
Sabanci University
Anthropology
West Building 334
(609) 734-8273
aparla@ias.edu

 

Ayşe Parla will be completing her book, which explores the significance of law in producing anxious hope as a structure of feeling among Bulgarian Turkish migrants, a migrant group that possesses relative privilege within the migrant landscape in Turkey. She is interested in a legal anthropology of emotions to address how anxious hope is sustained through historical-legal legacy and contemporary regulations, and circulated among migrants through their encounters with law’s informal manifestations.

 

 

       

Peter Redfield
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Anthropology
West Building 119
(609) 734-8367
redfield@ias.edu

 

Peter Redfield is exploring humanitarian design and efforts to create innovative devices in response to disaster and poverty globally. His research focuses on conceptions of human needs and ethical responsibilities. He is interested in the politics of technology, particularly questions of scale and accountability beyond state administered infrastructure.

 

 

       

Amr Shalakany
American University in Cairo
Law
West Building 315
(609) 734-8365
shalakany@ias.edu

 

A sharp legal inflection marks post-Arab Spring politics in Egypt from its next door siblings, and sets off my book project to chronicle and interrogate the role of legal professionals and their disciplinary logic in the country’s failed revolution, where the "rule of law" emerges since 2011 as both cause and casualty of authoritarianism.

 
   

 

   

Massimiliano Tomba
Università di Padova
Philosophy & Political Theory
West Building 115
(609) 734-8171
maxtomba@ias.edu

 

 

The starting point of my project is the plurality of revolutions that intersected in the French Revolution. Instead of an abstract and juridical conception of universalism, I make a case for an alternative tradition of "insurgent universality" that, on the one side, holds together political experiments, such as the Paris Commune and the first Soviet Constitution, and on the other side, allows us to think of different pathways of modernization, which bridge Western and non-Western juridical, political, and economic conceptions.

 
         

Emily Zackin
Johns Hopkins University
Political Science
West Building 335
(609) 734-8256
ezackin@ias.edu

 

Emily Zackin's current project examines America’s long history of debtors’ rights movement and the constitutional controversies surrounding their demands. In particular, it asks how insolvent debtors were able to fashion a social safety net from bankruptcy’s narrow, creditor-friendly origins, despite the potentially prohibitive private property rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. It examines both the victories and defeats of debtors’ movements over time, paying attention to the role of racial politics in determining which debtors sought and attained legal protection in particular historical periods. This project also seeks to explain why, after two centuries of steady development in a debtor-friendly direction, Congress began rendering bankruptcy law less protective of people unable to repay their debts.

 
         

Linda M. G. Zerilli
The University of Chicago
Political Science
West Building 114
(609) 734-8170
zerilli@ias.edu

 

For some time now, a certain strand of contemporary critical theory has understood its task not in terms of providing a substantive critique of real world power relations, let alone an alternative normative conception of what social relations might be, but of how to justify critique as such: how to "justify those elements which critique owes to its philosophical origins" (Habermas), albeit in a nonfoundationalist manner. This focus on—if not obsession with—the theoretical problem of how to ground one’s own critique arose largely as an intervention into the now longstanding debate over positivism and scientism in figurations of the relation between theory and practice. As important as this intervention has been for exposing the dangers of, and social/political philosophy’s implication in, a purely technocratic order, it has not been without costs to the very idea of critique itself: namely the crucial connection between critique and social/political transformation. Seyla Benhabib has usefully characterized the two tasks of critical theory as "explanatory-diagnostic" and "anticipatory-utopian." This project aims to explore what each of these tasks might be and how they are connected. Central will be an examination of how the loss of the second of these tasks, that is, of providing an anticipatory-utopian vision of what might supersede our current social and political predicament, results in a failure to adequately fulfill the first task of critically analyzing that very predicament.

 

 

Visitors
 

 

     

Amy Borovoy
Princeton University
Anthropology
D Building 109
(609) 951-4545
aborovoy@ias.edu

 

Amy Borovoy works on regimes of social care in postwar Japanese democracy, including family and corporate welfare. She is interested in how the advance of life-extending medical technology affects basic ideas about family obligations. At the Institute she will focus on the issue of live kidney donation, where transplant protocols describe organ donation as "non-reciprocal" and altruistic, but Japanese ethical guidelines limit live donation to within families and cope with pressure to meet demands for organs in a super-aging society.

 
         

Linda Bosniak
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Law & Legal Theory
West Building 337
(609) 734-8266
bosniak@ias.edu

 

 

Linda Bosniak is a legal and political theorist who participated last year as a Member of the School during its theme year on "Borders and Boundaries."  She returns this year as a Visitor to complete a book called "Justifying Immigrant Justice: Wrongs, Rights, and the Liberal-Statist Imaginary," which examines the structures of normative debate over the status and treatment of unauthorized immigrants in liberal destination states.  These immigrants are concurrently perceived as culpable and vulnerable, and the interplay of these judgments gives rise to sometimes-convoluted political and legal responses to their presence.  The book pays particular attention to the way in which these immigrants’ asserted "wrongdoing" against the state is addressed—castigated, elided, defended, or otherwise managed—by various actors, including an increasingly vocal class of irregular immigrants themselves.  Overall, the book treats unauthorized migration as one case among others in which growing cross-national movements of persons irrevocably test, and incrementally reconstitute, the insular ethical orders of liberal states.

 
         

Anne-Claire Defossez
Institute for Advanced Study
Sociology
West Building 314
(609) 734-8364
adefossez@ias.edu

 

Anne-Claire Defossez’s current work addresses the question of women’s political participation and representation by exploring the trajectory and experience of women formally involved in politics at local and national levels in France. In particular, she is analyzing how family background and personal history, as well as class, residence, and ethnicity have influenced their engagement, career, and practices in politics.

 
         

Donald W. Light
Term 1
Rowan University
Law
D Building 106
(609)951-4547
dlight@ias.edu

 

Patents are widely viewed as essential for research to develop better drugs. Yet independent assessments find that the proliferation of patents since 1980 has not resulted in an increased rate of clinically superior drugs. This challenges the theory of patents and suggests perverse incentives not sufficiently recognized. I plan to investigate and write about non-profit, collaborative models of research based on alternative models and incentives for innovation that appear to minimize commercial biases and develop superior drugs at affordable prices for the two-thirds of the world that live on $10 a day or less, where most hospitalizations and death occur.  

 
         

Pascal Marichalar
IRIS - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales
Sociology
Library
pmarichalar@ias.edu

 

 

Pascal Marichalar's research deals with industrial disease. His current work focuses on contradictions between employment and health in areas that are heavily dependent on polluting and dangerous industries. During his time at the Institute, he will start new fieldwork in an industrial community of New Jersey.

 

Elizabeth Mertz
Term 1
American Bar Foundation
Anthropology, Language, & Law
West Building 304
(609) 734-8260
emertz@ias.edu

 

My writing project on New Legal Realism challenges traditional Anglo-American jurisprudence from the vantage of inter- disciplinary and transcultural work in social science. It draws on my previous anthropological linguistic research on the epistemology and language of U.S. law, as well as current work on the discourses of interdisciplinary translation.

 

 

 
         

Sophie Meunier
Princeton University
International Affairs & European Politics
D Building 108
(609) 951-4414
smeunier@ias.edu
 

 

Sophie Meunier is a political scientist working on the politics of globalization in the European Union, especially trade and investment policy. At the Institute she plans to start writing her new book project, "Invested in Integration: The European Union and the Politics of Foreign Direct Investment."

 
   

 

   

Sherally K. Munshi
Georgetown University
Law
West Building 339
(609) 734-8270
smunshi@ias.edu

 

 

My research and writing explore the role that race and migration have played in shaping the contemporary nation-state. My current project, exploring the history of Asian exclusion from white-settler nations, explores the continuity between nineteenth century imperial formations and twentieth century immigration controls.

 
 
   

 

   

Yüksel Sezgin
Term 2
Syracuse University
 Political Science & Law
D Building 106
(609) 951-4457
 

 

Yüksel Sezgin’s research deals with pluri-legal religious family laws and human rights. During his residence at the Institute he will work on a book project that examines the relationship between shari‘a and democracy in non-Muslim majority countries by specifically focusing on cases of Israel, Greece, India, and Ghana.

 
         

Teng Biao
Institute for Advanced Study
Criminal Justice, Human Rights, & Democratization
D Building 105
(609) 951-4544
tengbiao@ias.edu

 

I taught constitutional law and jurisprudence in Beijing for twelve years. During my stay at the Institute, I plan to write a book on China's Human Rights Movement (2003-2016). My research interests include criminal justice, political transition, social movement and political philosophy.