Resistance Studies Initiative | Lelia Kawar PhD

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 4:00pm to 6:00pm


Tobin 423

Lelia Kawar PhD, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will present a talk titled Legal activism and deportation resistance: comparative and historical perspectives.

Her research examines the politics of legal expertise, at both the national and international levels, with a focus on questions relating to migration, citizenship, and labor. Her book, Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France (Cambridge U Press 2015) received the Law and Society Association's Herbert Jacob Book Award for best book in law and society in 2016 and also the APSA Migration and Citizenship Section award of Best Book in 2016. Kawar holds a PhD in Law and Society from New York University. 

Since the 1970s, networks of progressive attorneys in both the United States and France have attempted to use litigation to assert rights for noncitizens. Yet judicial engagement – while numerically voluminous – remains doctrinally curtailed. Professor Leila Kawar’s research offers new insights into the role of law in immigration policy making by focusing on the complex webs linking legal doctrine, lawyer advocacy, and movements for social change. Challenging the conventional wisdom that "cause litigation" has little long-term impact on policy making unless it produces broad rights-protective principles, her work shows that legal contestation can have important radiating effects on policy by reshaping how political actors approach immigration issues.

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Refreshments will be served

All Are welcome!