Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Social Sciences in the College

Associate Member, Law School

PhD, Harvard University, 2012; JD, Yale Law School, 2009

On leave Winter 2023


Darryl Li is an anthropologist and legal scholar thinking mostly about questions of war, law, migration, empire, and racialization in the currents between the Middle East, South Asia, and the Balkans. He is the author of The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity (Stanford University Press, 2020), an ethnographic and archival study of "jihadist foreign fighters" in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The book develops an anthropological approach to the comparative study of universalism and was awarded the William A. Douglass prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Europe.

Li has participated in litigation arising from the "War on Terror" as party counsel, amicus, or expert witness in Alien Tort, material support, denaturalization, immigration detention, asylum, and Guantánamo (habeas and military commissions) proceedings. He is a member of the bar in New York and Illinois and volunteers as an intake attorney for abolitionist bail funds in the Chicago area. In a previous life, he worked for several human rights organizations.

Li's current research and teaching agenda encompasses several broad streams: (1) theorization of captivity as a way to reconnect longstanding questions on law, racialization, and capitalism and to reconsider the politics of relating abolition to anti-imperialism; (2) migrant military labor ("mercenaries") across the Indian Ocean through questions of labor, sacrifice, violence, and counterrevolution; (3) racialization in international law, bridging doctrinal (CRT and TWAIL) perspectives to legal histories of empire and migration; (4) methodological questions for anthropology of law vis-à-vis legal scholarship, legal practice, and sociolegal studies.


Contact Information

Office: Haskell 227
Phone: (773) 702-4001
Email: darrylli@uchicago.edu
Website


Selected Publications

2022
Captive Passages: Geographies of Blackness in Guantánamo MemoirsTransforming Anthropology.

2021
La solidarité contre la souveraineté : penser autrement le phénomène du « djihad sans frontières »Anthropologie et Sociétés.

Aid as pan-Islamic Solidarity in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Toward an Anthropology of UniversalismAmerican Ethnologist.

Genres of Universalism: Reading Race into International Law, with Help from Sylvia WynterUCLA Law Review.

2020
Teaching the Global War on TerrorUnderstanding and Teaching the Modern Middle East, ed. Omnia El Shakry, University of Wisconsin Press.

The Spy Who Came in From the SouthCultural Anthropology.

The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of SolidarityStanford University Press [introduction available here].

For conversations around the book, see these interviews with Allegra LabChapati Mystery, Intercepted podcast, Islamicate Authors podcast, Jadaliyya, The Ottoman History Podcast, The Revealer, and Third World Approaches to International Law Review or this forum on The Immanent Frame

Book cover of "The Universal Enemy"

2018
From Exception to Empire: Sovereignty, Carceral Circulation, and the "Global War on Terror." In Ethnographies of U.S. Empire, eds. Carole McGranahan & John Collins, Duke University Press.

2016
Jihad in a World of Sovereigns: Law, Violence, and Islam in the Bosnia Crisis. Law & Social Inquiry.

2015
Offshoring the Army: Migrant Workers and the U.S. Military. UCLA Law Review.

2014
Capital, Migration, Intervention: Rethinking Gulf Islamic Charities. In Gulf Charities and Islamic Philanthropy in the "Age of Terror" and Beyond, eds Robert Lacey & Johnathan Benthall, Gerlach Press.

2012
Taking the Place of Martyrs: Afghans and Arabs Under the Banner of Islam. Arab Studies Journal.

2010
A Universal Enemy?: "Foreign Fighters" and Legal Regimes of Exclusion and Exemption Under the "Global War on Terror." Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

2006
The Gaza Strip as Laboratory: Notes in the Wake of Disengagement. Journal of Palestine Studies.

2004
Echoes of Violence: Considerations on Radio and Genocide in Rwanda. Journal of Genocide Research.