Mark Fathi Massoud, LAPA Fellow; University of California Santa Cruz

Islamic Law, Politics, and Human Rights Discourse: The Case of Somalia

Mon, 04/04/2016
301 Marx Hall
Event Category: 

Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Mark Fathi Massoud, Associate Professor of  Politics and Legal Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz, who will present, "Islamic Law, Politics, and Human Rights Discourse: The Case of Somalia."   The commentator is Amaney Jamal, Professor of Politics at Princeton and director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice.

LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

From Professor Massoud: "How are ideas of human rights and Islamic law formed in practice, particularly in war-torn regions? To what extent are they shaped by colonial rule, authoritarianism, and interactions with international aid activists? My book project explains how colonial, authoritarian, and humanitarian actors – spanning 130 years of Somali history from 1884 to 2014 – shape their own versions of Islamic law and human rights to meet their political goals. As one part of the larger book project, the LAPA seminar paper focuses on Somaliland’s colonial period (1884-1960). British colonial administrators, the Somalis who worked under them, and the Somalis who resisted colonial rule each turned to their own ideas of Islamic law to achieve their political ambitions and to promote their distinct views of tradition, modernity, and human rights in the context of a fragile or collapsing state." 

Mark Fathi Massoud is Associate Professor of  Politics and Legal Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz. His research focuses on law in conflict settings and authoritarian states, and on Islamic law and society. Massoud's first book, Law's Fragile State: Colonial, Authoritarian, and Humanitarian Legacies in Sudan (Cambridge University Press), refutes the conventional wisdom of a legal vacuum in war-afflicted regions. Based on extensive fieldwork in Sudan, the book traces how colonial administrators, post-colonial governments, and the international aid community have promoted the rule of law to build stability amid political violence and civil war. The book received the Herbert Jacob Prize from the Law and Society Association and Honorable Mention for the C. Herman Pritchett Prize from the American Political Science Association. Massoud has taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, since 2009. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015.

Amaney A. Jamal is the Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics at Princeton University and director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice. Jamal also directs the Workshop on Arab Political Development. She currently is President of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS). The focus of her current research is democratization and the politics of civic engagement in the Arab world. Her interests also include the study of Muslim and Arab Americans and the pathways that structure their patterns of civic engagement in the U.S. Jamal’s books include Barriers to Democracy, which explores the role of civic associations in promoting democratic effects in the Arab world (winner 2008 APSA Best Book Award in comparative democratization); and, as coauthor, Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11: From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects (2007) and Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9/11 (2009). Her most recent book Of Empires and Citizens was published by Princeton University Press, Fall 2012. In addition to her role as director of Princeton’s Workshop on Arab Political Development, Jamal is a co-director of Princeton’s Luce Project on Migration, Participation, and Democratic Governance in the U.S., Europe, and the Muslim World; principal investigator of the Arab Barometer Project, winner of the Best Dataset in the Field of Comparative Politics( Lijphart/Przeworski/Verba Dataset Award 2010); co-PI of the Detroit Arab American Study, a sister survey to the Detroit Area Study; and senior advisor on the Pew Research Center projects focusing on Islam in America (2006) and Global Islam (2010). Ph.D. University of Michigan. In 2005, Jamal was named a Carnegie Scholar.