Ronald Niezen

Ronald NiezenProfessor

Ph.D Cambridge University, 1987

Curriculum vitae

Ronald Niezen, is Professor of Anthropology and Associate Member of the Faculty of Law. He held the Katharine A. Pearson Chair in Civil Society and Public Policy in the faculties of Law and of Arts between 2013 and 2020, and is a former Chair of the Department of Anthropology. He also held the Canada Research Chair in the Anthropology of Law between 2012 and 2019. He was selected as the William Lyon Mackenzie King Chair for Canadian Studies, Harvard University, for 2018-2019.

Professor Niezen researches and teaches in the areas of political and legal anthropology, indigenous peoples and human rights. He is an anthropologist with wide ranging research experience: with the Songhay of Mali, the Cree communities of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, and the Sami of northern Europe.

Professor Niezen has taught legal anthropology and anthropological theory at the Faculty of Law and the Anthropology Department of McGill University. He has taught for nine years at Harvard University and held visiting positions at the Department of History at the University of Winnipeg and the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Professor Niezen earned his B.A. in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. He completed his M.Phil. and Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, England.

His research has been funded notably by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Research Chair programme and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Infrastructure Fund.

Areas of interest

Political/legal anthropology; Information technologies and justice claims; The social study of new media; Indigenous peoples and human rights; History of anthropology/social theory, Social change in Africa

Representative Publications:


Book cover of #HumanRights: The Technologies and Politics of Justice Claims in Practice#HumanRights: The Technologies and Politics of Justice Claims in Practice (Stanford University Press, July 2020)

Truth and Indignation: Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools (University of Toronto Press, October 2013)

Public Justice and the Anthropology of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

The Rediscovered Self: Indigenous Identity and Cultural Justice (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009)

A World Beyond Difference: Cultural Identity in the Age of Globalization (Blackwell, 2004)

The Origins of Indigenism: Human Rights and the Politics of Difference (University of California Press, 2003)

Articles and Chapters

2014. “Gabriel Tarde’s Public.” Revue d'Histoire des Sciences Humaines. 27 (2): 41-59.

2014. “The Law’s Legal Anthropology” in Human Rights at the Crossroads, edited by Mark Goodale. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

2013. “Internet Suicide: Communities of Affirmation and the Lethality of Communication.” Transcultural Psychiatry. 50(2):303-22

2011 “Human Rights and Indigenous Religions,” in Religion and Human Rights, edited by John Witte and M. Christian Green. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press

2009 The Aufklärung’s Human Discipline: Comparative Anthropology According to Kant, Herder and W. von Humboldt.  Intellectual History Review.

2009 “Self-Destruction as a Way of Belonging: Understanding Cluster Suicides among Aboriginal Youth in Canada.”  In Healing Traditions: The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples, edited by Lawrence Kirmayer and Gail Valaskakis.  Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

2008 “The Global Indigenous Movement.” In Handbook of North American Indians: Indians in Contemporary Society,  edited by Garrick Bailey.Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution.

2008  “Postcolonialism and the Utopian Imagination.” In Postcolonial Theory and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, edited by Philip Salzman and Donna Robinson.  New York: Routledge.

2008 “Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples, Treatment of.”   In Encyclopedia of Law and Society, edited by David S. Clark.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

2008 “Mali,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, edited by John Esposito.  Second edition (revised). Oxford:  Oxford University Press.

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