Ronald Niezen

About
the Author

Ph.D Cambridge University

I am Distinguished James McGill Professor in Anthropology and an Associate Member of the Faculty of Law at McGill University, where I have taught since 2004. An anthropologist by training and profession, I received a PhD at Cambridge University based on fieldwork in northern Mali, in the Gao region that is now marked by violent conflict and insecurity. I studied an Islamic reform movement that was a precursor of a violent jihadist insurrection in 2012-2013. After graduation, I moved to Montreal and took a job with the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. This was the start of a decades-long involvement with Indigenous rights movements based in northern Canada, northern Europe, West Africa (Mali), and southern Africa (Botswana and Namibia). I pursued this topic through the 1990s, during my first academic appointment at Harvard University, in Anthropology and in the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies. After publishing The Origins of Indigenism, I began (encouraged by others) to see myself as a legal anthropologist, as someone interested in the variety of human legal experience, yes, but above all in how legal institutions shape new forms of human belonging. This shift in professional identity was given a boost by my appointment to the Katherine A. Pearson Chair in Civil Society and Public Policy from 2013 to 2020, following which I was appointed to my current position. I wrote #HumanRights during a year at Harvard as Visiting Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, which gave me the freedom to write and explore the issues of digital security, surveillance, witnessing, and investigations that now make up our new information ecosystem and underpin the emerging forms of and prospects for human rights.

Work

Truth and Indignation

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools

#HumanRights

The Technologies and Politics
of Justice Claims
in Practice

The Origins of Indigenism

Human Rights and
the Politics of Identity

Palaces of Hope

The Anthropology
of Global Organizations
Edited by Ronald Niezen & Maria Sapignoli

Public Justice and
the anthropology of law
The Rediscovered Self

Indigenous Identity
and Cultural
Justice

Defending
the Land

Sovereignty and Forest Life
in James Bay Cree Society

A World Beyond
Difference

Cultural Identity
in the Age of Globalization

Spirit
Wars

Native North American Religions in the Age of Nation Building

New Books

Soon To Appear

Narratives and Mass Atrocity: Victims and Perpetrators in the Aftermath

eds. Sarah Federman & Ronald Niezen

Memory Seekers: A Novel

When Dutch-Canadian Peter Dekker is hired as an investigator by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, he has no inkling of the war crimes that lie in his own family’s history. His work takes him to Timbuktu, where he collaborates with Malian colleagues to document the war crimes from a recent and only partly-ended civil war. While he is on assignment, his live-in girlfriend, Nora, gets to know Peter’s estranged aunt living in The Hague and uncovers a dark history of murder, revenge and collaboration with the Nazi occupiers. Peter’s father keeps his silence. His aunt Julia reveals only as much as her emotions will allow. Others in the family offer only fragments. As the stories of his family under Nazi rule unfold and the intrigues multiply, Peter is confronted with a war crime in which he finds himself next-of-kin rather than an investigator. Memory Seekers takes on the experiences of war violence and its aftermath, the vagaries of memory, and the incompleteness of courtroom justice pitted against the temptations of revenge. 

COMING SOON

Representative Publications

My published articles and chapters cover a range of topics. To help you find what you’re looking for, they’re arranged by subject area.

Areas of Interest

Human Rights and the United Nations

Media Studies 

Suicide and Mental Health

Indigenous Studies

Intellectual History

Collaborations With

Sarah Federman

Worldwide Contacts & Connections

Social Media

Follow
Ronald Niezen
I USE TWITTER MAINLY TO FOLLOW AND COMMENT ON WORLD EVENTS; RESEARCHGATE TO EXCHANGE SCHOLARSHIP AND IDEAS; FACEBOOK TO KEEP UP WITH FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES; AND INSTAGRAM TO SHARE SOME THINGS I'VE SEEN WHILE OUT WALKING.
Get In Touch

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