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Vasuki Nesiah

Associate Professor of Practice
(212) 998-9151
1 Wash Pl, Room 614

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Vasuki Nesiah is a legal scholar with a focus on public international law. 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 international feminisms and the history of colonialism in international law. She has also written on the politics of memory and comparative constitutionalism, with a particular focus on law and politics in South Asia. Her most immediate project includes a volume which she co-edited with Luis Eslava and Michael Fakhri, A Global History of Bandung and Critical Traditions in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Nesiah teaches human rights, law and social theory, and the politics of war and memory at NYU. She continues as core faculty in Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP); In this capacity she has taught for six years in the IGLP summer and winter workshops in Cambridge, Doha, and Capetown. She is one of the founding members of the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and has continued as an active participant in this global network of scholars for two plus decades. 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 in New York. 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. Formerly she taught at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. 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 for over seven years. 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, an interdisciplinary doctorate in public international law, at Harvard Law School. She was awarded a fellowship for a post-doctoral program in human rights at Columbia Law School. 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 May 2016 Professor Nesiah’s “Theorizing Transitional Justice” was published in the Oxford Handbook of International Legal Theory, edited by Anne Orford, Martin Clark, and Florian Hoffman, Oxford University Press (2016).

In April 2016, Professor Nesiah participated in the Critical Race Theory conference at Yale Law School and presented a paper titled “Critical Race Theory and Third World Approaches to International Law: Convergences and Complementarities.”

In April Professor Nesiah presented at the Inequality and Human Rights Conference at University of Texas Law School, Austin. Her paper on the politics of debt was titled “Empowerment and Debt in Post-Conflict Economic Governance.”

In July 2015, Professor 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.


2017 Fall

First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Human Rights, Human Wrongs

Law and Political Critique: From Foucault to Tupac

2015 Fall

First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Human Rights, Human Wrongs

2015 Spring

The Politics of Law and Legal Thought

Global Fellowship in Human Rights