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Vasuki Nesiah

Associate Professor of Practice
1 Wash Pl, Room 614

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Vasuki Nesiah is a legal scholar with a focus on public international law. Currently her main areas of research include the law and politics of international human rights and humanitarianism, with a particular focus on transitional justice. Her past publications have engaged with different dimensions of public international law, including human rights and humanitarian law, the international legal history of colonialism and international feminisms. She has also written on the politics of memory and comparative constitutionalism, with a particular focus on law and politics in South Asia. Prior to joining Gallatin, Professor Nesiah taught in the International Relations and Gender Studies concentrations at Brown University where she also served as Director of International Affairs. She has taught at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and continues as core faculty in the summer workshop of the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) at Harvard Law School. Before entering the academy full time, Professor Nesiah spent several years in practice at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), where she worked on law and policy issues in the field of post-conflict human rights. She serves on the international editorial committees of the journals Feminist Legal Studies and the London Review of International Law. She also serves on the International Advisory Board of the Institute of International Law and the Humanities at the University of Melbourne, and is an Associate Fellow with the Asia Society. Originally from Sri Lanka, she earned her BA in Philosophy and Government at Cornell University, was a visiting student in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program at Oxford University, and earned her JD and SJD at Harvard Law School; she received a post-doctoral fellowship in human rights at Columbia Law School. She teaches human rights, law and social theory, and international legal studies at NYU. Professor Nesiah's publications can be accessed at

Teaching and Research Interests

international legal studies; human rights and humanitarianism; politics of memory and transitional justice; law, culture and society; law and politics of violence; critical social theory; colonialism and postcolonial modernities; feminisms; globalization; development policy; jurisprudence of identity; South Asia

Vasuki Nesiah


B.A. Philosophy & Government, Cornell University, 1990
J.D., Harvard Law School, 1993
S.J.D., Harvard Law School, 2000

Recent News

In July 2015, Professor Vasuki Nesiah, the playwright Tim Ruddy, the director Christopher Randolph, and photojournalist Nina Berman participated in a talk back after a performance of Ruddy's play The International, now on stage at the Origin Theatre in New York, New York.

Professor Nesiah organized and moderated a discussion between Chinnie Ding and joined Jo Becker, Advocacy Director of the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, about the relationship between labor and human rights on April 2, 2014 as part of the panel “Labor Rights as Human Rights.” She organized a talk in April 2014 with scholar Andrea Freeman, who spoke on “The Unbearable Whiteness of Milk: Food Oppression and the USDA” at Gallatin.


2015 Spring

Global Fellowship in Human Rights

Human Rights: Local and Global

The Politics of Law and Legal Thought

2015 Fall

First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Human Rights, Human Wrongs

2014 Spring

The Politics of Law and Legal Thought