Samera Esmeir

Associate Professor


  • 7311 Dwinelle Hall


Research Interests

Legal, Social, and Political Thought; Colonial and Postcolonial Studies; Critical Theory; Law and Society; Middle East Studies.

My research and teaching are at the intersection of legal and political thought, Middle Eastern history and colonial and post-colonial studies. One ongoing intellectual focus has been to examine how late-modern colonialism has introduced liberal juridical logics and grammars that in turn shaped modalities of political praxis, and how those have persisted in the post-colonial era and have traveled in different countries in the Middle East. My first book, Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History (Stanford University Press, 2012), pursues this problem in relation to colonial Egypt and examines how colonial juridical powers have … read more

----“Before Emptiness: On the Destructiveness and Impotence of Law,” in Looking for the Law in all the Wrong Places, edited by Marianne Constable, Leti Volpp, and Bryan Wagner (New York: Fordham University Press, forthcoming, 2019).
----W/ Marianne Constable, “Rhetoric and the Possibilities of Legal History,” in The Oxford Handbook of Legal History, edited by Markus Dubber and Christopher Tomlins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018): 79-95.
----“On Becoming Less of the World,” History of the Present, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Spring 2018): 29-56.

----“Bandung: Reflections on the Sea, the World and Colonialism” in Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures, eds. Vasuki Nesiah et. al (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
----“In the Land of the International,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 48 (2016): 362-366.
----“On the Coloniality of Modern Law,” Critical Analysis of Law, Vol. 2 No. 1 (2015).
----“A World Compared, Destroyed and Connected: A Response to the Mission Statement of CSSAAME,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vol. 33 No. 3 (Winter, 2013).
----“The Time of Engagement: A Commentary on Revolutions,” Law, Culture and Humanities, Vol. 10, No. 3 (2014) (electronic version 2012).
----“At Once Human and Not Human,” The Journal of Gender and History, Vol. 23, No. 2 (August 2011).
----“Citizenship and the Return of Refugees: On the Archives of Law and Memory” in Family Papers: Studies in the Contemporary Social History of Palestine, ed. Zakaria Muhammad, Salim Tamari, and others (Institute of Jerusalem Studies, 2009) (in Arabic).
----“The Violence of non-Violence: Law and War in Iraq,” Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 34, No. 1 (March 2007).
----“Memories of Conquest,” in Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, Lila Abu-Lughod and Ahmad Sa’di, eds. (Columbia University Press, 2007).
[A revised version of “1948: History, Memory, Law”].
----“On Making Dehumanization Possible,” PMLA: The Journal of Modern Languages Association, Vol. 121, No. 5 (October 2006).
----“1948: History, Memory, Law,” Social Text, Vol. 75, No. 2 (Summer, 2003).

Select Occasional Pieces:
----“Equality Time” (roundtable on Saba Mahmood’s Religious Difference in a Secular Age), The Immanent Frame: Secularism, Religion and the Public Sphere,
----“A Guide for the Perplexed: On the Return of the Refugees,” Middle East Report Online (April, 2014).
----“A History from the Back,” in I would have smiled: Photographing the Palestinian refugees. A Tribute to Myrtle Winter Chaumeny, eds. Issam Nassar and Rasha Salti (Beirut: Institute of Jerusalem Studies, 2008).
----Contributor to a roundtable: “Anti-Authoritarian Revolution and Law Reform in Egypt.” Book Reviews:
----Omnia Al Shakry, The Great Social Laboratory: Subjects of Knowledge in Colonial and Postcolonial Egypt (Journal of Social History, Vol. 35, No. 4).
----Tobias Kelly, Law, Violence and Sovereignty Among West Bank Palestinians, (Journal of Palestine Studies, Vo. 38, Summer 2009).
----Rande Kostal, Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law (Journal of British Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1, January, 2008).
----Dan Rabinowitz and Khawla Abu Baker, Coffins on Our Shoulders: The Experience of the Palestinian Citizens, (Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 140 Summer, 2006).