ISHR is pleased to announce that Joseph R. Slaughter has taken the role of Executive Director as of July 1, 2022. Firstly, we want to thank Professor Yasmine Ergas on behalf of faculty, staff, students, and affiliates for her countless contributions during her year as Interim Director. Professor Ergas brought her many years of experience and expertise to the role of Director, and ISHR looks forward to her continued vital participation, her good counsel, and her leadership as we open a new chapter at the Institute. It is with admiration and gratitude that we thank her for her excellent stewardship of ISHR over the past year.
We are happy to welcome Joseph Slaughter in his new role as Executive Director. Professor Slaughter is an Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
and a member of The Committee on Global Thought
at Columbia University. He specializes in postcolonial literatures (particularly from Latin America and Africa), international law, and socio-cultural histories of the Global South. His research and teaching focus on the social work of literature
—the myriad ways in which literature intersects (formally, historically, ideologically, materially) with problems of social justice, human rights, intellectual property, and international law.
Professor Slaughter’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award, the Abigail R. Cohen Fellowship at the Institute for Ideas and Imagination (Paris)
, and a Public Voices Fellowship. His first book Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law
, which explores the cooperative narrative logics of international human rights law and the Bildungsroman genre of the novel, was awarded the 2008 René Wellek prize
for comparative literature and cultural theory. He served seven years in the leadership of the American Comparative Literature Association, including his election as President in 2016. Slaughter has published many influential articles
on literatures of the Global South, human rights, intellectual property, international law, and decolonization in a wide range of journals.
Slaughter was a founding co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development
. He co-edited a volume of essays, The Global South Atlantic
, that explores some of the many social, cultural, political, and material interactions across the oceanic space between Africa and Latin America that have made it historically (im)possible to imagine the South Atlantic as a cohesive region. He is currently completing two monographs: “New Word Orders: Intellectual Property, Piracy, and the Globalization of the Novel,” which considers the role of plagiarism and piracy in the creation of contemporary world literature and international IP regimes, as well the work that the novel might do to interrupt globalization and to resist monopoly privatization of cultural and intellectual resources; and “Behind Human Rights,” which examines the rise of human rights and development discourse in the period of political decolonization from the 1960s-80s from the perspective of Third World aspirations and approaches, considering especially the peculiar roles that colonial charter companies and transnational corporations played in the creation of international human rights law.