School of Law, Gender and Media

Dr Vanja Hamzić

Key information

School of Law, Gender and Media Reader in Law, History and Anthropology School of Law, Gender and Media Equalities Lead School of Law, Gender and Media Director of Research Centre for Ottoman Studies Advisory Board Member Centre of South East Asian Studies Member Centre of African Studies Member Centre for the Study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law Member Centre for Law in Asia Member
BFA (Sarajevo), BDes (Sarajevo), LLM (Nottingham), PhD (London), SFHEA
Senate House
Email address
Telephone number
+44 (0)20 7898 4501
Support hours
Tuesdays, 3.30pm -5.30pm (by appointment only)


Vanja Hamzić is Reader in Law, History and Anthropology 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, Marxism(s), decolonial 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, distemporality, legal violence, Third World feminisms and queer theory, homeliness, touch, Muslim Marxism, the unknowable, the Lacanian Real and other critical concepts. 

Dr Hamzić’s current book-length project addresses gender-nonconformity and cosmological and legal pluralism in eighteenth-century Senegambia as well as the ways 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. He was an Associate Director of Research at SOAS (2019-2022), where 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 served for a long time as a core faculty member of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard University, and he is an Associate Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. In the academic year 2016–17, he was a Residential Member of the School of Social Science in the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
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
Pat de Brún Queering Human Rights Law from Below: Rights, Ruptures, and Resistance in Cambodian Queer Politics
Fatima Dhanani Navigating Legal Pluralism in Lebanon
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


Contact Vanja