School of Law

Dr Vanja Hamzić

Key information

Roles
School of Law Lecturer in Law School of Law Equalities Lead School of Law Director of Research Centre for Ottoman Studies Advisory Board Member Academic Staff, Centre of South East Asian Studies Centre of African Studies Member Member Centre for the Study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law Member Member Member Centre for Law in Asia Member
Department
School of Law
Qualifications
BFA (Sarajevo), BDes (Sarajevo), LLM (Nottingham), PhD (London), SFHEA
Building
Senate House
Office
S336
Email address
vh1@soas.ac.uk
Telephone number
+44 (0)20 7898 4501
Support hours
Tuesdays, 3.30pm -5.30pm (by appointment only)

Biography

Vanja Hamzić is a Reader in Law, History and Anthropology as well as an Associate Director of Research at SOAS University of London.

He holds two First Class Honours degrees from the University of Sarajevo, an LLM with Distinction from the University of Nottingham and a PhD from King’s College London. He has worked as an activist and researcher with various international and civil society organisations in South and South East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and West and South Africa. Before coming to SOAS, Dr Hamzić held academic posts at City, University of London and King’s College London.

The bulk of Dr Hamzić’s legal, anthropological and historical research addresses issues in human subjectivity formation—especially those related to gender, sexual, class, race, linguistic and religious difference—with the principal fieldwork sites in Pakistan, Indonesia, Senegal and Louisiana. While the focus of Dr Hamzić’s work has been, for quite some time, the Islamic legal tradition, both in its historical and present-day diversity, he is also interested in how some of its strands have influenced (and, in some cases, moulded into) other South Asian, South East Asian, West African and circum-Atlantic traditions. Dr Hamzić’s work to date has particularly sought to shed new light on how gender non-conforming individuals and communities—such as khwajasara in Pakistan, waria and others in Indonesia as well as numerous historical identitary formations across West Africa—have braved the turbulent tides of racial capitalism, colonialism, slavery and other legally-sanctioned oppression and how, in turn, they have developed and abided by multiple formations of insurrectionary vernacular knowledge (about themselves and the world at large). It is this knowledge and being-in-the-world—often preserved in oral traditions, rites of passage and rituals of the everyday—that has survived not only the epistemic and literal violence of the nation-state and its legal institutions, but the sustained ‘will to disappear’ in the colonial and post-colonial archive, too.

Dr Hamzić is also interested in, and has contributed to, current transnational debates on legal and social theory, human rights, racial capitalism, Marxist and postcolonial studies, the Cold War, feminist and queer legal theories, the ‘archival turn’ across disciplines, global law/governance studies, social anthropology and philosophy. In this context, he has written about alegality, legal violence, Third World feminisms, homeliness, touch, Muslim Marxism, the unknowable, the Lacanian Real and other critical concepts.

Dr Hamzić’s current book-length project addresses gender non-conformity and cosmological and legal pluralism in eighteenth-century Senegambia as well as the ways the enslaved gender-variant West Africans have survived the Middle Passage and ‘New World’ gender regimes, in particular that of colonial (i.e. first French and then Spanish) Louisiana. The project seeks to develop an interruptive approach to circum-Atlantic colonial and postcolonial history-making and to critically address the question of archival silences.

Dr Hamzić is one of the Co-Directors of the Centre for the study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law; a co-founder and former Co-Chair of the Centre for Ottoman Studies; a member of the Steering Committee of the Centre for Gender Studies; and a member of a number of other SOAS research centres. Beside his work as an Associate Director of Research at SOAS, he also contributes to a range of institutional efforts as an elected member of the Academic Senate at the Academic Board and a member of the Decolonising SOAS Working Group.

Externally, Dr Hamzić serves as a Core Faculty Member of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School and as Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. He is also AdvanceHE’s Senior Fellow (SFHEA). In the academic year 2016–17, Dr Hamzić was a Residential Member of the School of Social Science in the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Mr Lars Olav Aaberg Queer Diversity and Inclusion Policy and Practice: an Ethnographic Study of Queer Politics in India’s Information City
Leonie Clarke The Legal Standing, Autonomy and Equivocal Personhood of Enslaved Black People In 17th-19th Century Britain and Jamaica
Fatima Dhanani Navigating Legal Pluralism in Lebanon: Experiences of Muslims, Druze and Christians on Matters of Personal Status Laws | A Legal Anthropology Study
Nazifa Haqpal Securing Women’s Rights: A Critical Analysis of the Legal and Institutional Initiatives in the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Post-2001 Afghanistan
Mr Moritz Koenig Colonial Law in Minangkabau. Legal Discourses and the Enframing of West Sumatran Social Worlds
Rana Osman
Victoria Allen Stainsby Hungry Ghosts of Empire: Reimagining Postcolonial Narrative and Law
Naseeba Umar Queer Subjectivity and Sexual Governance

Publications

Contact Vanja