Samera Esmeir

Associate Professor


PhD, New York University

LL.M., New York University


  • 7311 Dwinelle Hall
  • On leave Fall 2018


My research and teaching are at the intersection of legal and political thought, Middle Eastern history and colonial and post-colonial studies. My central intellectual focus thus far has been to examine how late-modern colonialism, with a particular focus on the Middle East, 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 (forthcoming, Spring 2012, Stanford University Press), pursues this problem in relation to … read more

"The Time of Engagement, Zaman al-Ishtibak," Law, Culture and Humanities (October, 2012).

“The Conquest of the Law: The Egyptian Legal Profession and the Making of Colonial Law,” in New Approaches to Egyptian Legal History, ed. Khaled Fahmy & Amr Shalakany (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, forthcoming 2012) (Arabic and English).

“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).

 “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).

Occasional Pieces

 “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.”

“Rethinking Terrorism, War and Peace,” Why War Series, UCB (April, 2011) (with Saba Mahmood).

“The Crisis of the Law in Colonial Egypt,” Center for Middle East Studies, UCLA (February, 2011).

“Temporalities of Struggle: National Liberation Movements and International Strategies of Rule,” University of Texas at Austin School of Law (November 2010).

“Times of Engagement: Liberation Struggles and International Strategies of Rule,” Rhetoric Department, UC Berkeley (May 2010).

“Humanism and the Loss of the Human,” Workshop on Postcolonial Melancholia, Brown University (March 2009).

“Wounds,” Workshop on Human in Difference: A World to Know and to Come, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies for Society and History, Concordia University (March 2009).

“At Once Human and Not Human: Reflections on Colonialism, Gender and Human Rights,” Department of History, Concordia University (March, 2009).

“Archives of Loss: Two Itineraries of Power in Colonial Egypt,” Annual Symposium on Egypt, Middle East Center, Florida State University (February 2009).

“Juridical Inscriptions: Becoming Human in Colonial Egypt,” Workshop on “Historicizing the Human,” Institute for International History, Columbia University (March, 2008).

“On the Pain of Animals, Humans, Stones and Spirits,” Department of Political Science, The University of Chicago (October, 2007).

“The Body Out of Pain,” Department of Politics, UC Santa Cruz (March, 2007).

“The Lawyer, the Human, and the Archive: Revisiting the Legal History of Egypt under British Colonial Rule,” Center for Middle East Studies, UC Berkeley (January 2007).

“Juridical Humanity: Colonialism and the Making of the Universe,” Center for the Study of Law and Society, UC Berkeley (October, 2006).

"Law's Multiple Sovereignties," Interrogating Modernity and Postcoloniality, The Satnford Humanities Center, Stanford University (February 2006).