Baldy Postdoctoral Fellows are highly promising scholars from a variety of disciplines who have completed their Ph.D.s and/or J.D.s at other universities, but have not yet commenced tenure track positions. Chosen in an extremely competitive process, they carry out their scholarly projects with the full array of UB research resources and participate regularly in Baldy Center talks, discussions, workshops, and conferences.
Daniel Platt, 2018-2020 Postdoctoral Fellow, earned his Ph.D. in American Studies at Brown University. His research reconsiders the growth of household credit in the American economy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by focusing on legal contests over the rights of debtors and creditors. Such disputes routinely turned on the appeal of the contention that ungoverned finance threatened the integrity of both racial hierarchy and the patriarchal household by subjecting white men to dependencies to which they were unaccustomed. Through a detailed examination of ordinary insolvency lawsuits and larger reform campaigns, Daniel’s work traces the initial vitality and gradual waning of this argument over these critical decades and the consequential freeing of household credit from traditional legal restraints that followed.
An article drawn from this work, on the anti-usury struggles of the 1920s, appears in a recent issue of the Journal of American History. At the Baldy Center, Daniel will complete a second article and revise his book manuscript, tentatively titled Governing Credit from the Age of Emancipation to the Keynesian Turn.
Hughett's paper, "'A Hazardous Enterprise': Prisoners' Rights Lawyers' Quest for Justice Beyond the Courtroom"
was presented at the Baldy Center on November 10, 2017.
Amanda Hughett, 2017-19, is currently a Law and Social Sciences Doctoral Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. Earning a Ph.D. in History at Duke University, August 2017, her dissertation documents how civil liberties lawyers’ efforts to secure procedural protections for inmates during the 1970s unintentionally undermined imprisoned activists’ ability to organize and to secure more substantive victories. It begins by tracing the emergence of a surprisingly successful interracial movement to unionize incarcerated workers in North Carolina and across the nation. The project then reveals how prison administrators who at first opposed procedural protections for inmates used them, once created, to defeat prisoners’ more sweeping demands by portraying their institutions as modern bureaucracies that complied with the rule of law.
In so doing, Hughett's work illuminates the limitations of individual rights claims in the postwar era while helping to explain why American prisons continue to punish more harshly than their counterparts in any Western country. At the Baldy Center, Amanda will revise her dissertation into a book manuscript tentatively titled Silencing the Cell Block: The Making of Modern Prison Policy in North Carolina and the Nation.
McNamee's paper, "Capital Sentencing and Fundamental Law: A Participatory Case Against Death Qualification," was presented at the Baldy Center, November 17, 2017.
David McNamee, 2017-19 Postdoctoral Fellow, earned a J.D. from Yale Law School and is completing a Ph.D. in Politics at Princeton University. David's project is called “The Citizens' Constitution.” He argues for citizens' responsibility to directly participate in constitutional interpretation in certain roles—as voters and jurors, litigants and disobedients, partisans and deliberators. This theory sheds new light on the old idea of the Constitution as fundamental law. The Constitution’s basic principles are beyond the power of institutions to alter, are accessible to citizens’ common reason, and ground our disagreements while inviting ongoing interpretive debate.
By participating in this ongoing interpretive argument, citizens bring their fundamental law closer into alignment with the ideal of law that is self-given. This line of inquiry suggests institutional reforms to better realize these values of interpretive participation, such as juries' power to find fundamental law as well as a responsibility to give reasons for their decisions. At the Baldy Center, David will aim to develop this project as both a book manuscript and in several articles spelling out its institutional and doctrinal implications.
Camilo Arturo Leslie, 2015-17 Postdoctoral Fellow, has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan, where he previously earned a JD. His dissertation research combines legal sociology, economic sociology, and a theoretical focus on trust and trustworthiness to account for the ruinous “success” of history’s second largest Ponzi scheme: the $5.5 billion Stanford Financial Group fraud. Based on varied documentary data and more than 100 interviews with defrauded investors and former Stanford employees, this work traces the trajectory of the fraud in its two largest markets: the U.S. and Venezuela.
The work makes two claims. First, that a given actor’s “trustworthiness” is in fact a collaboratively produced appearance, an aggregate of all the positive and negative evaluative statements in circulation about that actor. Second, that this traffic in evaluative claims, or “worth claims,” obeys a “jurisdictional” logic. Camilo will use his time at the Baldy Center to revise his dissertation into a book manuscript tentatively titled Untangling the Knotted Roots of Trust: Trustworthiness and Jurisdiction in the Stanford Financial Group fraud. In addition, he will develop several journal articles both directly and indirectly related to his dissertation. In previous research, Camilo studied the power of map imagery to shape how subjects conceive of and experience their political communities. A paper from that project has been conditionally accepted at Theory & Society.
Camilo is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Rebecca Schmidt, 2015-16 TBGI Postdoctoral Fellow, holds a PhD from the European University Institute (Florence, Italy) and has been a visiting fellow at the GlobalTrust Project at Tel Aviv University. Before starting her doctoral dissertation she studied law at the University of Heidelberg (Germany) and obtained an LLM in International and Legal Studies from New York University. In her research Rebecca examines a key feature of globalization, the rise of regulation beyond the state. She particularly focuses on the emergence of transnational regulatory cooperation between public and private actors.
At the Baldy Center she participated in the Transnational Governance Interaction Network Project. Her main research focuses on the interplay between expertise driven private regulation and more traditional political authority in multi-level transnational regulatory networks. The argument tested is that within these networks existing public policy requirements and parameters defining legitimate forms of regulation are renegotiated. Rebecca’s fellowship is co-sponsored with York University. She spent Fall 2015 at the Baldy Center and Spring and Summer 2016 at York University (Canada).
Rebecca is currently a Fellow in EU Regulation and Governance at University College Dublin, Ireland.
Justin L. Simard, 2015-17 Postdoctoral Fellow, earned his JD and his PhD in History at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation examines how American lawyers in the 19th century built a capitalist state. Using day books, ledgers, and letters, the dissertation provides a bottom-up history of an elite profession. These sources demonstrate that lawyers contributed to the growth and expansion of American capitalism not with grand gestures, but by solving day-to-day problems on behalf of their clients. By collecting debts, managing property sales, and drafting contracts, lawyers regulated the market, organized life on the American frontier, and facilitated the growth of complex commercial transactions.
At the Baldy Center, Justin will continue his research on the work of 19th century American lawyers as he prepares his manuscript for publication. He will also explore the ramifications of this work for modern legal professionals, examining how they have been influenced by the commercial legal culture of their predecessors.
Justin is the Jack Miller Center Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Legal Studies at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.
Laura R. Ford, 2014-16 Postdoctoral Fellow, recently completed a Ph.D. in Sociology at Cornell University (2014), having previously earned an LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law and Policy from University of Washington Law School (2006), and a J.D. from Tulane Law School (2000). Her historical and comparative dissertation traces the emergence and expansion of intellectual property, as a new type of legal property rooted distinctively in the modern nation-state, focusing on the contributions of legal culture and legal traditions to these developments.
Before beginning her study of intellectual property at University of Washington, Laura worked as a bond lawyer for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (from 2000-2004), and earned an MPA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (2004). Her first major publication, a law review article published in 2005, compared U.S. and European legal approaches to the patentability of computer software. More recent publications have focused on Max Weber’s historical and comparative sociology of law, especially his sociological theory of property.
Laura is an assistant professor of Sociology at Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York.
Yun-Ru Chen, 2014-15 Postdoctoral Fellow, is a professor at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study at Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan), where she teaches Comparative Family Law and East Asian Laws. After receiving a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) from Harvard Law School (HLS), she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy in SUNY Buffalo Law School in addition to a research fellowship in the Institute for Global Law and Policy at HLS.
Taking colonial Taiwan, a former territory of imperial China and the first colony of Japan, as the vantage point, her SJD dissertation suggests that ideas about nations and families were far from homogenous in the colonial encounter. She argues that it is not necessary that family law should play a reactionary role in developing nationalism in non-western societies. She is turning her dissertation into a book manuscript tentatively titled, “Paradoxes of the National Family Law in (Post-) Colonial East Asia: Taiwan as the Nexus.”
She also worked as an intern associate at Yuan-Cheng LLP (Taipei) and served as a research expert for the National Museum of Taiwan History and for the Judicial Yuan, the highest judicial organ in Taiwan. Her publications include: “Family Law as a Repository of Volksgeist: The Germany-Japan Genealogy” (Comparative Law Review, 2013), “‘Rule of Law’ as an Anti-Colonial Discourse: Taiwanese Liberal Nationalists” (Law Text Culture, 2015); “Family Law in Action: The Transformation of Adultery and its Law in Modern Taiwan” (Book chapter in ASIAN COMPARATIVE FAMILY LAW. Kyoto University Press. Forthcoming 2016); and “Family Law in Taiwan: Historical Legacies and Current Issues” (Family Law in a Global Society (Brill Publishing, Leiden), forthcoming 2017.
Yun Ru is an Assistant Professor of Law at National Taiwan University.
Natasha Tusikov, 2014-15 Postdoctoral Fellow, received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University. Her dissertation is a socio-legal analysis of the transnational private regulation of intellectual property on the Internet that is based on fieldwork undertaken in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. This research examines the power of corporate actors to shape norms toward and the use of particular technologies, and control over essential Internet services, such as search engines and payment providers.
Following her research fellowship at the Baldy Center, she became Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Her research interests focus upon transnational private governance and the emergent sociolegal dynamics that are shaped by the intersections of regulation, technology, and society.
While at the Baldy Center, she examined how technology firms, such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, are shaping global standards relating to mass Internet surveillance and digital privacy. In particular, she examined the tensions and inter-dependencies between corporate and state Internet surveillance programs as revealed by Edward Snowden’s disclosure of classified files relating to the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Natasha also holds degrees in English Literature from the University of British Columbia (BA) and Queen’s University (MA). Prior to undertaking her dissertation, she worked as a researcher with the Canadian federal government in the areas of cybercrime, money laundering, fraud and transnational crime.
Natasha is Assistant Professor of Social Science at York University in Toronto, Canada.
Jesse J. Norris, 2013-15 Postdoctoral Fellow, earned his PhD in sociology and his JD at the University of Wisconsin Madison. His dissertation examined innovative forms of governance in European anti-poverty policy, based on case studies in Ireland and Portugal. His legal scholarship focuses on the governance of legal systems, often drawing on sociological theory or methodology to shed light on contemporary policy problems in the criminal justice system. Jesse’s research at the Baldy Center investigated alleged entrapment in domestic terrorism prosecutions.
This research aims to document and explain the apparent prevalence of entrapment in terrorism investigations since 9/11, including the recent spread of entrapment allegations to cases of environmental or left-wing terrorism. It will also clarify the normative and social-scientific bases for critiquing current informant practices, and evaluate the potential of specific doctrinal and administrative reforms to prevent entrapment abuses. Jesse’s recent publications have analyzed judicial sentence modification doctrines, earned release policies, and state commissions to ameliorate racial disparities in criminal justice. After graduating from law school, Jesse served as a visiting professor at Beloit College, worked as a staff attorney for four trial court judges, and started an independent estate planning practice.
Jesse is currently Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, SUNY Fredonia.
Or Bassok, 2013-14 Postdoctoral Fellow, completed his Doctorate of the Science of Law (JSD) at Yale Law School in 2013. His recent articles examine the relations between the sociological legitimacy of the American Supreme Court and its normative legitimacy; the effect of the rise of public opinion polls on the Court’s legitimacy; different social imaginaries and their influence on legal expertise; originalism as a method of esoteric writing; the American constitutional identity and the effects of media coverage on the legitimacy of national high courts.
As a Tikvah Scholar at New York University School of Law during the 2012-13 academic year, he examined the prospects of developing a constitutional identity for Israel. At Yale, he was a Fulbright scholar and a Robina Foundation Visiting Human Rights Fellow (2011-12). Before going to Yale and after completing his law degrees at the Hebrew University, he served as a defense attorney in the Israeli Defense Forces where he defended soldiers before military courts and the Israeli Supreme Court. His last case before the Israeli Supreme Court dealt with the evidentiary meaning of defendant’s failure to testify in trial (Milstein v. Chief Military Prosecutor). As an Interdisciplinary Legal Studies Fellow at the Baldy Center, he investigated the role of low politics in constitutional thinking.
Or recently joined the law faculty at Nottingham University, ranked sixth in the United Kingdom.
Anna Su, 2013-14 Postdoctoral Fellow, is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy in SUNY Buffalo Law School in addition to a graduate fellowship in ethics with the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. She also served as a law clerk for the Philippine Supreme Court and consulted for the Philippine government negotiating panel with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Her book, Exporting Freedom: Religious Liberty and American Power, is forthcoming with Harvard University Press. She holds an S.J.D (2013) from Harvard Law School, and received her J.D. and A.B. degrees from the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.
Anna is currently an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Toronto.
Kaja Tretjak, 2013-14 Postdoctoral Fellow, is presently Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Johnson State College, where she established and directs the new program in criminal justice, focused on community and restorative justice. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. from Columbia University. Her academic interests include political ecology; gender, sexuality and feminist studies; social movements; and the interrelations between law and social change. As a Baldy fellow, Kaja published a peer-reviewed article on the significance of studying the political right.
Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Kaja is a frequent speaker on socio-political issues and grassroots organizing and strategy. She is co-founder of three nonprofit organizations, including Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER), which focuses on empowering students to reform how universities handle sexual assault. SAFER is the original inspiration for the current wave of “red tape” demonstrations sweeping campuses nationwide. Kaja also co-founded Hollaback!, today an international movement to end street harassment, and the Peaceful Streets Project, a police accountability effort in Austin, Texas.
Kaja is currently assistant professor in the Behavioral Sciences Department at Johnson State College, Vermont, where she teaches anthropology and sociology and directs JSC’s new program in criminal justice/justice studies.
Mireille Abelin, 2012-13 Postdoctoral Fellow, completed her PhD in anthropology at Columbia University in 2012. Her dissertation examined the emergence of a political discourse of "fiscal sovereignty" (soberania fiscal) after Argentina's sovereign debt default of 2001, as well as the state's efforts to stabilize notions of value and reconstitute citizens as taxpayers and users of national currency. As an Interdisciplinary Legal Studies Fellow at the Baldy Center, she pursued a comparative project on perceptions of selfhood, sovereignty, and money as they crystallize in anti-tax movements in the United States and Argentina (both of which intensified in 2008).
Her research examines the paradox of why, in the aftermath of fiscal crises caused by financial deregulation, a discourse celebrating unfettered markets, individual rights, and limited government has continued to hold tremendous appeal in both countries. Bringing an anthropological perspective to bear on the study of fiscal relations in modern state contexts, she is analyzing popular and scholarly notions of economic obligation, examining narrative constructions of where gratitude and recognition for economic prosperity is directed. She is particularly interested in the dearth of attention accorded to the problem of economic obligation in Anglo-American theories of citizenship, and is exploring the circumstances under which rights-based citizenship paradigms have become divorced from fiscally mediated visions of political community. As of fall 2013, Mireille is a visiting instructor at the New School for Social Research in New York, New York. As of spring 2014, Mireille is a visiting scholar at New York University's Institute for Public Knowledge. She is also an instructor at the New School's Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA).
Nimer Sultany, 2012-13 Postdoctoral Fellow, is Lecturer in Public Law, School of Law, SOAS, University of London. Previously, he was Postdoctoral Fellow at SUNY Buffalo Law School (2012-2013). He holds an SJD from Harvard Law School; an LL.M. from University of Virginia; an LL.M. from Tel Aviv University; and an LL.B. from the College of Management. He practiced human rights law in Israel/Palestine, and was the director of the Political Monitoring Project at Mada al-Carmel—The Arab Research Center for Applied Social Research.
His publications include: “The State of Progressive Constitutional Theory: The Paradox of Constitutional Democracy and the Project of Political Justification” in the Harvard Civil Rights—Civil Liberties Law Review; “Against Conceptualism: Islamic Law, Democracy, and Constitutionalism in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring” in the Boston University International Law Journal; “Activism and Legitimation in Israel's Jurisprudence of Occupation” in Social & Legal Studies; “Redrawing the Boundaries of Citizenship: Israel’s New Hegemony” in the Journal of Palestine Studies; and Citizens without Citizenship: Israel and the Palestinian Minority (Mada, 2003). His op-eds appeared in Arabic, Hebrew, and English in numerous media outlets, including: The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Guardian, Buffalo News, Haaretz, and Al-Quds al-Arabi.
Nimer is currently Senior Lecturer in Public Law in the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Julia Tomassetti, 2012-13 Postdoctoral Fellow, earned her JD at Harvard Law School and PhD in Sociology at UCLA. Distinguished Professor Maurice Zeitlin chaired her doctoral committee. Tomassetti was previously a Law Research Fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center and is currently a Jerome Hall Fellow at the Maurer School of Law, University of Indiana, Bloomington. Beginning in fall 2016, she will be an Assistant Professor of Law at the City University of Hong Kong.
She studies labor and employment law, contracts, economic sociology, and the political economy of contemporary capitalism. Her current research centers on modern disputes over the legal identity of work relationships. For example, is an Uber driver an employee or an “entrepreneur?" Is a college athlete an employee or only a “student?" She investigates how new technologies shape socio-legal constructions of work and how contests over the boundaries of employment shape other social boundaries, like those between the economic and non-economic, between the public and private, and among firms, markets, and networks. She is particularly interested in the consequences of these disputes on the organization, transparency, and legitimacy of class relations. Her most recent work looks at disputes over the employment status of FedEx drivers to show that instability in the legal distinction between employees and independent contractors is embedded within the legal definition of employment—in the law’s attempt to construe the legal relations of master and servant as a “contract.”
Julia is currently Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong.