Joseph Slaughter is the Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
and a member of The Committee on Global Thought
at Columbia University, Slaughter specializes in postcolonial literatures (particularly from Latin America and Africa), international law, and socio-cultural histories of the Global South. His research and teaching focus on the social work of literature
—the myriad ways in which literature intersects (formally, historically, ideologically, materially) with problems of social justice, human rights, intellectual property, and international law.
Slaughter has published many influential articles
on literatures of the Global South, human rights, intellectual property, international law, and decolonization in a wide range of journals, including: “A Question of Narration: The Voice in International Human Rights Law
” and “Hijacking Human Rights: Neoliberalism, the New Historiography, and the End of the Third World
” in Human Rights Quarterly
; “Pathetic Fallacies: Personification and the Unruly Subjects of International Law
,” in London Review of International Law
; “Vanishing Points: When Narrative Is Not Simply There
,” in The Journal of Human Rights
; “Humanitarian Reading
,” in Humanitarianism and Suffering: The Mobilization of Empathy through Narrative
; “Life, Story, Violence: What Narrative Doesn’t Say
,” in Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development
; “The Enchantment of Human Rights; or, What Difference Does Humanitarian Indifference Make?
” in Critical Quarterly
; “Enabling Fictions and Novel Subjects: The Bildungsroman and International Human Rights Law
,” in PMLA
; “Introducing Human Rights and Literary Form; Or, the Vehicles and Vocabularies of Human Rights
,” in Comparative Literature Studies
; “Who Owns the Means of Expression?
” in The b2o Review
; “World Literature as Property
,” in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics
; “After Freedom: Literature, Human Rights Law, and the Return of Decolonization,” forthcoming in Decolonizing the English Curriculum
Slaughter was a founding co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development
. He co-edited a volume of essays, The Global South Atlantic
, that explores some of the many social, cultural, political, and material interactions across the oceanic space between Africa and Latin America that have made it historically (im)possible to imagine the South Atlantic as a cohesive region, outlined in “The Sea of International Politics: Fluidity, Solvency, and Drift in The Global South Atlantic
.” He is currently completing two monographs: “New Word Orders: Intellectual Property, Piracy, and the Globalization of the Novel,” which considers the role of plagiarism and piracy in the creation of contemporary world literature and international IP regimes, as well the work that the novel might do to interrupt globalization and to resist monopoly privatization of cultural and intellectual resources; and “Behind Human Rights,” which examines the rise of human rights and development discourse in the period of political decolonization from the 1960s-80s from the perspective of Third World aspirations and approaches, considering especially the peculiar roles that colonial charter companies and transnational corporations played in the creation of international human rights law.