School of Law
Reader in Law, History and Anthropology
School of Law
School of Law
Director of Research
Centre for Ottoman Studies
Advisory Board Member
Centre of South East Asian Studies
Centre of African Studies
Centre for the Study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law
Centre for Law in Asia
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.
Review of Corrine Lennox and Matthew Waites (eds), Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in The Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change (Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London, 2013)
Hamzić, Vanja (2014). Human Rights Law Review (14) 2, pp 386-390
Mir-Said Sultan-Galiev and the Idea of Muslim Marxism: Empire, Third World(s) and Praxis
Hamzić, Vanja (2018). In: Natarajan, Usha, (eds.), Reynolds, John, (eds.), Bhatia, Amar, (eds.) and Xavier, Sujith, (eds.), Third World Approaches to International Law: On Praxis and the Intellectual. London: Routledge, pp 105-118
Selfhood and Archipelago in Indonesia: A Case for Human Polyversality
Hamzić, Vanja (2017). In: Sircar, O., (eds.) and Jain, P., (eds.), New Intimacies / Old Desires: Law, Culture and Queer Politics in Neoliberal Times. New Delhi: Zubaan Books; Chicago University Press, pp 235-252
An Interstice of Justice?: Muslim Experiences of Sexual and Gender Diversity between Human Rights Law and Islamic Legal Tradition
Hamzić, Vanja (2012). In: Holzhacker, R, (eds.) and Lahey, K, (eds.), Global Rights, Global Movements: International Law, Transnational Activism, and the Critical Role of Civil Society. New York: New York University Press, pp 121-152
Worldings of "Us" and of Tumbleweeds: On Spillage and Matter in a Messy, Intersubjective Here (and Elsewhere)
Hamzić, Vanja(2020). In: Thinking Like Tumbleweeds: Bodily Genres and the Vitality of Beings at Large, RAI2020: Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future, June 2020 :SOAS University of London
The Wordsmiths of Time: Gender Variance, Social Status and Distemporalities in “Eighteenth-Century” Greater Senegambia
Hamzić, Vanja(2019). In: Panel on Distemporalities: Collisions, Insurrections and Reorientations in the Worlding of Time, On Time: The Biennial Conference of the Finnish Anthropological Society, August 2019 :Helsinki, Finland
Whither the Law and the State in Southeast Asian Histories?
Hamzić, Vanja(2018). In: The IGLP Asian Regional Workshop, Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School, January 2017, Bangkok, Thailand. [Unpublished], January 2018 :Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School, Bangkok, Thailand
'Thinking Home’s Homes: An Interdisciplinary Encounter'
Hamzić, Vanja and Painter, Genevieve(2017). In: Walls, Borders and Bridges: Law and Society in an Inter-Connected World, International Meeting, Law and Society Association, June 2017 :Mexico City, Mexico
International Law as Violence: Competing Absences of the Other
Hamzić, Vanja(2015). In: Queering International Law: Possibilities, Alliances, Complicities, Risks, December 2015 :Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School, Melbourne, Australia
The Dera Paradigm: Homecoming of the Gendered Other
Hamzić, Vanja(2015). In: Re-imagining Anthropological and Sociological Boundaries, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) Inter-Congress, July 2015 :Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand
Dress to Impress: Phenomenology and Materiality of Liberal Human Rights Fashion in Global Law and in Indonesia
Hamzić, Vanja(2011). In: The Phenomenology of Global Order: Inquiries into the Materiality of International Law, 7 September 2011 :Centre for the Study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law, SOAS, University of London
Base-line Study on Faith-based Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Challenges of Non-patriarchal Communities and Approach / Osnovna studija o vjerskom razvoju u Bosni i Hercegovini: Izazov vanpatrijarhalnih zajednica i pristupa