Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Lori Allen

Key information

Department of Anthropology and Sociology Member
BA, MA, PhD (Chicago)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Telephone number
020 7898 4491


Lori Allen is a Reader in Anthropology (Near and Middle East). 

She studied anthropology at the University of Chicago from where she received a PhD, as well as her MA and BA. Her work focuses on Palestinian politics, and she has published on topics in the anthropology of nationalism, violence, gender, and human rights. Her first book, The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine, was published in 2013 with Stanford University Press. 

She is currently engaged in a historical-ethnographic inquiry into the political practices and discourses framed by the concepts of rights and suffering in Palestinian politics, from the 1920s to the present.

Research interests

My research interests focus on a number of interrelated issues: the politics of the human rights system; Palestinian nationalism and state-building; and the production of “political epistemologies,” the social processes by which proof and evidence are produced and mobilized in political claim-making. My theoretical concerns converge around the problems of hegemony, and what allows and prompts people to oppose domination.

My peer-reviewed articles have appeared in American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, History and Memory, Arab Studies Journal, and Critique of Anthropology. I also engage with wider audiences, publishing socio-political analyses and opinion pieces in Middle East Report and Al-Jazeera, among other venues.

During my two years as an Academy Scholar at Harvard University I completed my book, The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2013). The Rise and Fall of Human Rights traces the history of the Palestinian human rights world— including NGOs, activists, and “victims,” human rights discourse, visual representations, Islamist politics, and human rights education programs—focusing on the period from 1979 until the present. The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine won the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology first annual book prize. 

I have been conducting research for my second monograph, A Genealogy of Political Proof: International Investigative Commissions in Palestine, 1919-2009, supported by fellowships from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, and Leverhulme. This project excavates the epistemological rules by which political evidence and testimony is produced and instrumentalized, how it is obfuscated, or deemed incredible. Through a history of international investigative commissions that have visited Palestine-Israel, I examine how political struggles rooted in concepts of and practices of liberalism and international law emerged and maintained a hold on international approaches to the conflict.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Amir Massoumian Perceptions of cultural preservation, race, gender, hierarchy, nationhood, and immigration in London pub culture


Contact Lori