Sam graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts with a B.A. in English Literature and Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He later travelled to the American University in Cairo, Egypt where he obtained an M.A. in International Human Rights Law, upon completion of his dissertation “Suspect Ideology: Unmasking the Operationalization of Holocaust-Based Identity in the Israeli High Court of Justice,” under the supervision of Dr. Jason Beckett. He then undertook a position as Instructor in the Department of Rhetoric at the American University in Cairo, where for four years he taught rhetoric, public speaking, and political resistance to young undergraduates struggling in a politically shifting, uncertain, and post-Revolution landscape. His interest in Public International Law and Critical Legal Studies drew him to Keele University, where he is generously funded by a HUMSS Faculty Studentship.
This project seeks to trace the emancipatory potential of international human rights using, primarily, the methodology of Foucauldian genealogy. Public international law, and its most powerful normative concept, sovereignty, helped manufacture a distinct brand of freedom and equality in the rollout of international human rights law (IHRL), which, until today, is evidenced by the emergence primarily of breaches of rather than adherence to IHRL.
This is project that descends into rights and rights language. This is not un-trod territory. There are several scholars engaged in similar pursuits, with similar aims. The normative thrust of this project, however, sets it apart, as this project is in pursuit of an “antidote,” as Michel Foucault briefly discusses. While there will be an assessment of the many rigorous critiques of human rights language and human rights law, this project will not be offering a new intervention into the failures and flaws of human rights. Rather, this investigation is looking to capture some of the insights made by Foucault, particularly in his later work, and transform rights critique into potential ways forward. This will involve several strategies, but most especially the transformative way rights can be deployed as political claims – it is in the radical re-imagining of rights and their content on which this project is based.
Rather than submitting to a regime of legal order that roughly categorizes communities and individuals and uses bright lines to demarcate where and when they might assert a certain claim, this project is interested in the gaps between such bright lines, where new subjects and subjectivities are being discursively created, and where there lurks an opportunity to shift cultural, social, and political norms in the protection of the least protected.