SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Lori Allen

BA, MA, PhD (Chicago)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Lori Allen
SOAS Middle East Institute (SMEI)


Centre for Palestine Studies (CPS)


Dr Lori Allen
Email address:
020 7898 4491
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
On Sabbatical:
2021/22 & 2022/23


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.



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.


Authored Books

Allen, Lori (2020) A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Allen, Lori (2013) The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.


Allen, Lori (2018) 'What’s in a Link? Transnational Solidarities Across Palestine and their Intersectional Possibilities'. South Atlantic Quarterly, (117) 1, pp 111-133.

Allen, Lori (2017) 'Finding indigenous critique in the archives: Thoughts on Didier Fassin’s ‘The Endurance of Critique’'. Anthropological Theory, (17) 2, pp 265-273.

Allen, Lori (2017) 'Determining Emotions and the Burden of Proof in Investigative Commissions to Palestine'. Comparative Studies in Society and History, (59) 2, pp 385-414.

Allen, Lori (2016) 'Sincerity, Hypocrisy, and Conspiracy Theory in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.'. International Journal of Middle East Studies, (48) 4, pp 701-720.

Allen, Lori and Shepherd, Laura (2012) 'Editorial: Gender and Conflict'. Feminist Review, (101), pp 1-4.

Allen, Lori (2012) 'The Scales of Occupation: 'Operation Cast Lead' and the Targeting of the Gaza Strip'. Critique of Anthropology, (32) 3, pp 261-284.

Allen, Lori (2009) 'Martyr Bodies in the Media: Human Rights, Aesthetics, and the Politics of Immediation in the Palestinian Intifada'. American Ethnologist, (36) 1, pp 161-180.

Allen, Lori (2009) 'Mothers of Martyrs and Suicide Bombers: The Gender of Ethical Discourse in the Second Palestinian Intifada'. Arab Studies Journal, (17) 1, pp 32-61.

Allen, Lori (2008) 'Getting By the Occupation: How Violence became Normal during the Second Palestinian Intifada'. Cultural Anthropology, (23) 3, pp 453-487.

Allen, Lori (2006) 'The Polyvalent Politics of Martyr Commemorations in the Palestinian Intifada'. History and Memory, (18) 2, pp 107-113.

Book Chapters

Allen, Lori (2019) 'Subaltern Critique and the History of Palestine'. In: Fassin, Didier and Harcourt, Bernard E., (eds.), A Time For Critique. New York: Columbia University Press, pp 153-173.

Allen, Lori (2016) 'Palestine, the Third World, and the UN as seen from a Special Commission'. In: Prashad, Vijay and Makdisi, Karim, (eds.), Land of blue helmets : the United Nations and the Arab world. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Allen, Lori (2015) 'The nation as moral community: language and religion in the 1919 King-Crane Commission'. In: Schayegh, Cyrus and Arsan, Andrew, (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates. Abingdon; New York: Routledge, pp 258-268.

Book Reviews

Allen, Lori (2019) 'The Social Life of Security: Cross-Disciplinary Lessons and Lacunae in Anthropology and Critical Security Studies'. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, (Sep) 2019.


This list was last generated on Saturday, 1st October 2022, 21:46 Europe/London.