Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Social Sciences in the College

Associate Member, Law School

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

Darryl Li is an anthropologist and attorney working at the intersection of war, law, migration, empire, and race with a focus on transregional linkages between the Middle East, South Asia, and the Balkans.

Li is the author of The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity (Stanford University Press, 2020), which develops an ethnographic approach to the comparative study of universalism using the example of transnational "jihadists" -- specifically, Arabs and other foreigners who fought in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia Herzegovina. Drawing on ethnographic and archival research conducted in Bosnia and a half-dozen other countries, the monograph situates transnational jihads in relation to more powerful universalisms, including socialist Non-Alignment, United Nations peacekeeping, and the U.S.-led "Global War on Terror." He is at work on a second project on migrant military labor (frequently called "mercenaries" or "military contractors") across the Indian Ocean.

Li has participated in litigation arising from the "War on Terror" as party counsel, amicus, or expert witness, including in Guantánamo habeas, Alien Tort, material support, denaturalization, immigration detention, and asylum proceedings. He is a member of the New York and Illinois bars.

Contact Information

Office: Haskell 216
Phone: (773) 702-4001

Selected Publications

Captive Passages: Geographies of Blackness in Guantánamo MemoirsTransforming Anthropology.

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.

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"

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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