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Interdisciplinary Scholar Christopher Roberts Joins Law School Faculty

JANUARY 18, 2011—Christopher N.J. Roberts, who recently completed the joint doctoral program in public policy and sociology at the University of Michigan, will join the Law School faculty May, 2011, as an associate professor.

Roberts’ dissertation, Exploring Fractures Within Human Rights: An Empirical Study of Resistance, examines the development of the modern international human rights concept from 1944 to 1966. His analysis focuses on the substantial and often-overlooked opposition that emerged against the formation of the International Bill of Human Rights. His work shows that many influential groups at the time resisted the creation of new categories of right holders. Because these oppositional elements were absorbed into the framework of the concept, Roberts argues, from its inception the modern international system of human rights has been encumbered by "internal contradictions" that continue to constrain implementation. Publication of the work is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

"Chris joins an outstanding group of human rights scholars at the Law School," says Law School Dean David Wippman, "and brings with him an exciting interdisciplinary perspective and research agenda."

From 2008-10, Roberts was a visiting scholar in the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall. He was awarded a doctoral research grant from the University of Michigan’s Nonprofit & Public Management Center in 2008.

Also among the numerous awards he received at Michigan were the Rackham Merit Fellowship, the Shapiro/Malik Award, and research grants from the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Graduate School, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and the Department of Sociology. He was a graduate student instructor of criminology in the University of Michigan’s Department of Sociology in 2003-04.

Roberts received his J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 2000, after working as a legal intern in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Gang Unit and a summer associate with Robie & Matthai in Los Angeles. He completed his B.A. in anthropology in 1997 at the University of California, Los Angeles.

His research interests are in the areas of human rights, citizenship, international law, legal history, social theory, and law and society. "Toward a New Sociology of Rights: A Genealogy of 'Buried Bodies’ of Citizenship and Human Rights," which he co-authored with Margaret R. Somers, appears in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science (2008).


Christopher Roberts

Professor Roberts