Kathleen Cavanaugh is a socio-legal scholar, Director of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, and Senior Instructional Professor in the College at the University of Chicago (US). She holds a PhD in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science, and an LLM (Distinction) from the Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has held several Visiting Lectureships in the UK, Israel, and the US and was awarded a Fellowship at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford.
Prof. Cavanaugh’s scholarship, like her academic training, is interdisciplinary. In broad terms, her research seeks to interrogate questions of law in its social context. She has published on international human rights and humanitarian law; protracted conflict on both a regional and comparative basis; theoretical as well as applied research on the use of political violence; ethnonationalism (including questions of identity, culture, and religion); Islam and rights-based discourse, minority rights in the Middle East; storytelling in meta conflicts, the use of international legal mechanisms in regulating protracted conflict; and, more recently, militant democracy and the politics of memory. Her current research projects include a study of Militant Democracy and the Preventative State, which examines how the permanence of emergency is beginning to give the concept of ‘securitization of rights’ legal legs, and Memory Wars & Populism that examines how operative memory associated with populist nationalistic discourses in three cases—the United Kingdom, the United States, and Turkey—utilize antagonistic frames of belonging/not belonging and how these hegemonic discourses inform practice. As a consultant, she has undertaken numerous missions on behalf of Amnesty International including to Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and to Iraq (where she focused on the conduct of the occupying powers in relation to detention and security). She has conducted trainings for governmental as well as non-governmental organizations throughout the Middle East (Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, and Sudan), India, and the Republic of Ireland.