Sara Kendall studies the discursive forms and material practices of international law and global governance. After earning her doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley, where she wrote her dissertation on the Special Court for Sierra Leone, she worked as a researcher in the Department of Public International Law at Leiden University, where she studied the effects of International Criminal Court interventions in Kenya and Uganda. She also taught international relations at the University of Amsterdam before coming to Kent. She is currently working on a book-length project on the International Criminal Court, in which she uses approaches and insights drawn from the humanities, the interpretive social sciences, and critical legal theory.
Sara’s research addresses legal responses to – and complicity with – forms of violence, broadly understood. One strand of this research has focused on the ways in which the juridical field attempts to contain or respond to mass atrocity, specifically through the sub-fields of international criminal law and international humanitarian law. Her current research project focuses on the ‘restorative turn’ in international criminal law through a reading of International Criminal Court practices. A second strand focuses on law’s production and reproduction of violence through recourse to humanitarian logics, and in particular, on the role of humanitarianism in justifying (state) violence from the colonial period to the present.
Sara has published on the implications of the victim as a legal category in international criminal law, the political economy of international criminal tribunals, legal pluralism and ‘hybridity’ at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the rise of expert knowledge in post-Cold War constitution-drafting practices. Her work has appeared in Law and Contemporary Problems; Leiden Journal of International Law; African Journal of Legal Studies; Journal of Law, Culture and the Humanities;and Studies in Law, Politics and Society. Her current book-length project explores the effects of International Criminal Court interventions based upon observations of the court’s work in Uganda, Kenya, and the Netherlands.
Research Areas: International (criminal) law, global governance, critical theory, political theory, anthropologies of law
· AHRC funded research network on 'Legal Materialities', together with Dr. Hyo Yoon Kang. Grant period: 2017-2019.
The Legal Materiality Network will be an interdisciplinary forum for exchange that foregrounds the material dimensions of law in light of the transformations affecting many aspects of law, challenging its concepts and practices, such as property or territory. The legal materiality network will reconceptualise law as an assemblage of materials, norms, discourses and knowledge practices. It will formulate new approaches to make sense of law’s changing materiality, from textuality to diverse matters and media.
More information about the network is available here
· SSHRC (Canada) Insight Development Grant collaborator, 'Feeling Life: Biopolitics, Literature, and Humanitarian Sentimentality', together with Professor Stuart Murray, Carleton University, Department of English Language and Literature).
This Canadian research council project explores the affective forces behind contemporary biopolitical/humanitarian interventions, and in particular, how “humanitarian sentimentality” functions implicitly as a moral justification for political or even military actions in the name of humanity or human life itself. The project explores the nineteenth century literary production of humanitarian sentimentality and its contemporary biopolitical manifestations.
· Researcher, Netherlands Scientific Organization (NWO) funded project based at Leiden University, investigating the social, political, and legal effects of International Criminal Court interventions.
Sara's co-edited volume Contested Justice: The Politics and Practice of International Criminal Court Interventions (Cambridge University Press, December 2015) is available for download here.
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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
Teaching and Supervision
LW506: International LawLW643: International Law and the Use of Force
LW846: International Criminal Law
LW844: Legal Aspects of Contemporary International Problems
International law, legal theory and philosophy, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, global governance, critical and political theory, colonial legacies in law
Other Academic Activities
Other positions at Kent Law School
- Co-Director, Centre for Critical International Law
Additional Academic Positions
- Associated Researcher, Vrije University, Amsterdam
- General Editor, Leiden Journal of International Law (Cambridge University Press)
- Member, Editoral Board, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development (University of Pennsylvania Press)
- Member, Organising Committee, Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities
- Collaborator, SSHRC (Canada) Insight Development Grant, 'Feeling Life: Biopolitics, Literature, and Humanitarian Sentimentality'