Oct 052012
 October 5, 2012

Aid Agencies, Bureaucracy, and the New Legalism in South Sudan: From Civil War to Spreadsheets

Mark Massoud, Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and Legal Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will be speaking November 5th as part of the Monday Seminar Series from 12:00-1:30 in room 101, West Duke Building.

Legal scholars and policymakers studying the development of law in post-conflict settings have focused largely on the role of state institutions, particularly courts. This emphasis on state-produced law has detracted from an examination of the variety of non-state actors and institutions that contribute to the development of legal order in post-conflict settings and weak states. Based on literature in public law and organizational behavior, as well as field research in South Sudan, Massoud argues that international aid groups impose legal norms related to corporate behavior on the local organizations they fund and local people they hire. Civil society actors in South Sudan experience the power of law, not through the courts, but through their tangible and daily contact with aid agencies. These actors are subject to contracts and other rules of employment, work under management and finance teams, document routine activity, and abide by organizational constitutions. In analyzing how South Sudanese activists confront, understand, conform to, and resist these externally imposed legal rules, Massoud exposes how aid organizations themselves become significant sites of legal and political struggle in post-conflict settings.

Massoud’s research focuses on law in authoritarian and war-torn states. He is currently completing a book tentatively titled, Fragile State of Law: Colonial, Authoritarian, and Humanitarian Legal Politics in Sudan (under contract, Cambridge University Press), and his work on rights in authoritarian regimes appeared in Law & Society Review (2011). Previously, he taught law at McGill University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University.