Reza Banakar Memorial Lecture with Mark Fathi Massoud
This is the annual public lecture in memory of Professor of Sociology of Law Reza Banakar.
The spring 2024, the Sociology of Law Department is undertaking a research seminar series in Spring 2024 focusing on decolonial sociology of law perspectives.
Fieldwork and Positionality in Law and Society
The 2024 Reza Banakar Lecture with Professor Mark Fathi Massoud investigates the benefits and burdens of positionality. Positionality in research is the disclosure of how an author’s class, gender, racial or other self-identifications, experiences, and privileges influence research methods. A statement of positionality in a research article can enhance the validity of its empirical data and its theoretical contribution. However, such self-disclosure puts scholars in a vulnerable position, and those most likely to reveal how their positionality shapes their research are women, ethnic minorities, or both. At present, the burdens of positionality in the field of law and society are being carried unevenly by a tiny minority of researchers. Drawing in part on Massoud's own empirical research and professional experience, this talk invites law and society scholars to redress this imbalance by embracing expressions of positionality.
Mark Fathi Massoud is Professor of Politics and Director of Legal Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford Faculty of Law. Massoud is also a Berlin Prize Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin. He is the author of two books that address the interplay of law, politics, and religion. His first book, Law’s Fragile State: Colonial, Authoritarian, and Humanitarian Legacies in Sudan (Cambridge University Press 2013) earned prizes from the Law and Society Association and the American Political Science Association. His second book, Shari'a, Inshallah: Finding God in Somali Legal Politics (Cambridge University Press 2021) garnered seven awards, including from the American Political Science Association, International Studies Association, American Sociological Association, and the Socio-Legal Studies Association. Massoud is also co-editor of the new volume, Out of Place: Fieldwork and Positionality in Law and Society (Cambridge University Press 2024).