Spring 2016 ILS Law and Society Graduate Fellows

Cynthia FaridCynthia Farid
Cynthia Farid is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. Her research interests include a range of topics including legal history, legal theory, human rights, constitutional law and law and development. Prior to her current role in UW-Madison, Cynthia has professional experience working in legal practice as well as international development work comprising a range of human rights and rule of law programming with NGOs, INGOs, think tanks, and legal rights organizations. Having completed her bar in the UK and Bangladesh, she graduated with an LL.M from Cornell University.

Her doctoral project examines South Asian legal systems and contemporary discourses around legal and judicial reform. In particular, her project will look at the extent of Indian participation in the legal discourse around administrative and procedural reform during the late colonial period and trace continuities of these developments in contemporary South Asian states. The export of legal institutions became extensive political projects during the colonial period inspiring large-scale reform—a practice that continues in new forms in the contemporary era of globalization. These do not reflect past violence, injustices or the unequal structures upon which these legal regimes were built. This project will attempt to uncover some of these lost narratives through investigation of historical data and unearth how legal agents have contributed to discursive formations of legal institutions. These may be captured in the legislative and administrative debates between legal actors about reforming key institutions, including civil courts and related procedural laws. Judicial recruitment policies may also reveal how existing laws were applied and implemented in colonial India. The project aims to locate the roots of contemporary reform discourses within this history and trace continuities of these institutions across the colonial, postcolonial and to some extent the post-development era. In so doing, this project hopes to engage in archival, comparative and socio-legal methodologies and in line with the Law and Society Association’s recent turn to internationalization, contribute to the study of law and society in South Asia from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Daanika GordonDaanika Gordon
Daanika Gordon is a doctoral candidate in the department of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her research interests broadly span the sociology of law, race and ethnicity, and urban sociology. More specifically, she studies how legal institutions produce symbolic boundaries that in turn constitute the basis of inequalities in the state’s service provision and social control. In her dissertation, she explores the processes by which different places in the city come to experience divergent styles of policing. The project examines the case of an urban Midwestern police department’s redistricting process and uses a multi-method approach including in-depth interviews, ethnographic observation, and descriptive statistical analysis. It first identifies the actors and interests that construct citywide policing priorities. It then examines the consequences of these priorities on the social organization of policing at the district-level and the on-the-ground activities of police officers. In addition to exploring sources of potential divergence in policing practices, this project further theorizes the social construction of urban spaces. By centering a reform that partitioned the city along meaningful axes and allocated resources on the basis of these divisions, it identifies the processes that actively produce divergent symbolic and material qualities of place.

Daanika’s other research focuses on both criminal and civil legal settings. In a previous study, she used ethnographic and interview data to explore the role that family analogy plays in the governance strategies of a drug treatment court. In addition, as a project assistant for Professor Tonya Brito and Professor David Pate, she contributes to a study that utilizes qualitative methods to examine how different models of legal assistance affect child support enforcement proceedings for low-income litigants. Daanika received her B.A. in sociology and development studies from the University of California, Berkeley.


Camden HutchisonCamden Hutchison
Camden Hutchison is a Ph.D. Candidate in history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on the intellectual and political development of U.S. legal-economic policy, particularly in the areas of taxation, antitrust, and corporate governance. His most recent publication, "The Historical Origins of the Debt-Equity Distinction" (Florida Tax Review), investigates the political history of the disparate tax treatment of corporate debt and equity. His current research project examines the influence of law and economics scholarship on Supreme Court antitrust jurisprudence during the late twentieth century. This research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the University of Chicago Library, the Hoover Institution, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Camden received his B.A. in history from the University of Rochester. He holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School and was previously a corporate attorney at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Walker KahnWalker Kahn
I am interested in the impact of financialization on people's lived realities. Currently, I'm conducting statistical analysis of Cook County court records to study how mortgage securitization has affected the conception, enforcement and prioritization of property rights during foreclosure. Further, I am using commodity chains analysis to understand how transforming negotiable debt contracts into liquid commodities affect access to social and civil rights. Other topics of interest related to this research include an exploration of the regulatory policies, political decisions and corporate governance norms that govern consumer lending. Previously, I have studied how deep-subprime auto lending industry practices such as the installation of GPS tracking and remote ignition cutoff switches reconfigure concepts and realities of ownership. Before coming to UW-Madison to pursue my PhD in Sociology, I worked for Professor Saskia Sassen at The Committee on Global Thought and was a member of the wrestling team at the New York Athletic Club.


James KruegerJames Krueger

I am a lawyer and a PhD candidate in Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research addresses the relationship between legal pluralism and environmental sustainability. I developed an interest in this topic over time. After graduating from William and Mary School of Law in 2006, I joined the Faculty of Law at Haramaya University in Ethiopia as an Assistant Professor. There I taught public international law and environmental law for three years. I encountered many problems relating to the enforcement of posited law and became interested in informal rule systems for regulating the environment. My interests led me to my current program of study which is interdisciplinary and provided valuable training in sociological and planning methods. Armed with these additional tools, I conducted dissertation research in Kenya in 2014, mostly involving semi-structured interviews with khat farmers, individual and group interviews with local government officials, and an investigation of relevant archival materials. My dissertation is entitled, “Factors That Impact Legal Pluralism and Its Sustainability: Learning from Case Studies of Land Use Regulation Among Khat Farmers in Kenya.” In the dissertation, I make the argument that regulating and incentivizing land use in Kenya has a record of failure because of over-emphasis on formal property and land use law. I develop three case studies that look at land use decisions among khat farmers at the study site in Meru, Kenya. (Khat is a legal, but often socially unacceptable, drug crop in Kenya.) The case studies are on tree cutting regulations, privatization of forested hilltops, and small irrigation groups. Looking at the role of formal and informal authorities across the case studies, I highlight how important community autonomy and group norms are to making formal land use regulation work. Currently I am writing the fourth chapter of my dissertation; my goal is to defend by summer of 2016.


Elsa NotermanElsa Noterman
I am a PhD student in the Department of Geography at UW-Madison. My research focuses on the socio-spatial struggles involved in the ongoing development and management of multiple material and immaterial commons. Specifically, I examine the differential ways that people understand and interact with shared resources across space and over time. As a part of the Institute for Legal Studies' Law and Society Graduate Fellowship I will examine the use of the law to preserve and expand community-based projects that have developed on 'vacant' urban land. Specifically, I will explore how some community groups in Philadelphia are utilizing adverse possession to obtain ownership of the land that they have occupied and used in variable ways for decades.


Emma ShakeshaftEmma Shakeshaft

Emma Shakeshaft is a doctoral student in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, where she worked on the Wisconsin International Law Journal and the Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society. She is currently a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin. She received her M.S. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.A. in sociology and international Relations from the University of Southern California.

Emma’s dissertation research analyzes the legal interpretations and procedures of judges, lawyers, and governmental actors by examining case outcomes based on gender, nationality, and race. She also investigates decision-making patterns within different legal and governmental institutions in order to determine if these decision-making processes are based on certain types of racial definitions and understandings. Emma’s research also addresses racial and gender disparities in legal resource allocation. More specifically, her dissertation examines transracial adoption case law, human trafficking case law, and data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) relating to the allocation of two nonimmigrant visas, U-Visas and T-Visas.

Emma’s broader research interests include race and ethnicity, specifically the social construction of race through law, critical race theory, criminal justice, immigration law, and family law.

Di WangDi Wang
I am currently a doctoral student in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before entering the PhD program, I received my M.A. degree in Gender and Women’s Studies at UW-Madison and my B.A. degree in International Relations at Xiamen University. My research interests are in the areas of legal consciousness, social movement, gender and sexuality with an empirical focus on China. My dissertation is a study of grey-area activism. It focuses on how marginalized communities (queer women) can mobilize around law-related issues (LGBTQ and NGO activities) under an authoritarian regime (China). I define “grey-area” as a negotiating site among contesting interpretations of what is legal. To shed new light on scholarship of legal consciousness, mobilization and coalition-building, I move away from simply observing (dis)obedience and resistance to “law on the books” towards understanding relational processes by which communities contextualize “law in action.” How does variation in political context within one nation-state impact these processes and shape local activism in the grey-area? My dissertation is a multi-sited ethnography in three Chinese metropolises with different patterns of political “greyness” in regards to three key factors for queer women’s activism, namely state control, NGO network strength, and gender norms. I compare how queer feminist activists construct legality to justify their collective action, consolidate communities, and build coalitions across regions.


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