Faculty Directory
Faculty Directory

Christopher Roberts

  • Associate Professor
  • Joseph & Edith Wargo Research Scholar

University of California, Los Angeles, B.A.
University of Southern California Gould School of Law, J.D.
University of Michigan, Ph.D.

Office: 450
Mondale Hall, 229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Professor Christopher N.J. Roberts is an associate professor of law and an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Sociology. He brings an interdisciplinary law, sociology, and public policy perspective to human rights, international law, and legal history.

His recent book, The Contentious History of the International Bill of Human Rights (Cambridge University Press), was awarded the 2015 Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Human Rights Section. The book focuses on the substantial and often-overlooked opposition against the formation of the International Bill of Human Rights during the 1940s and 1950s. Because this opposition was absorbed into the framework of the emerging concept, he argues that for more than 60 years human rights have been encumbered by “internal contradictions” that continue to constrain implementation.

Roberts is currently working on his second book, which takes the unusual approach of searching for the historical origins of an absence. Although every legally enforceable right relies upon a corresponding legal duty, the book shows that duties have become an afterthought in contemporary rights theory and practice. This project locates the crucial historical moments when duties were separated from the modern idea of rights and explores the impact of this now-accepted division.

Roberts holds a JD from the University of Southern California and a PhD in Public Policy and Sociology from the University of Michigan, where he received the Distinguished Dissertation Award. He 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, in 2008-10.

Professor Roberts’ research interests include human rights, citizenship, tort law, international law, legal history, legal and social theory, law and society, and the process of legal concept formation.

For further information on Professor Roberts, please see his PDF iconcurriculum vitae.


Civil Rights: Citizenship and Human Rights

Administrative Law



  • The Contentious History of the International Bill of Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2014) Christopher Roberts

Book Chapters

  • The Sociology of Law, in The Handbook of Sociology and Human Rights 204-212 (David L. Brunsma, Keri E. Iyall Smith & Brian K. Gran, eds., Paradigm Publishers, 2013) Christopher Roberts

Journal Articles

  • Standing Our Legal Ground: Reclaiming the Duties within Second Amendment Rights Cases, 47 Arizona State Law Journal 235 (2015) Christopher Roberts
  • Dynamics of Healthcare Reform: Bitter Pills Old and New, 45 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 1341 (2012) Christopher Roberts
  • Toward a New Sociology of Rights: A Genealogy of “Buried Bodies” of Citizenship and Human Rights, 4 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 385-425 (2008) Margaret R. Somers and Christopher Roberts

Contact Information

University of Minnesota Law School

Walter F. Mondale Hall | 229 19th Avenue South | Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-625-1000

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