Fabio talks to Michael McCann, a professor at the University of Washington and former president of the Law and Society Association.

Michael is known for his studies on legal mobilization and recently published an essay (with Filiz Kahraman) arguing that “the distinction between liberal and illiberal, or authoritarian legal orders is misleading”, because most countries, including the US, are “governed by plural, dual, or hybrid legal institutions, principles, and practices”. They also place this duality or hybridity in a political economy context, particularly what they call “racial capitalism”.

Exploring these ideas, Fabio and Michael engage in an insightful conversation, which also touches on issues like the myth of US exceptionalism and how studies of the global south can help illuminate what goes on in the global north.

Michael and Filiz’s essay can be consulted at: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-111720-012237


Michael McCann

Michael McCann is Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship at the University of Washington. Michael served as Chair of the Political Science Department for five years in the late 1990s and again for brief stints in 2010-11 and 2017-18. He was the leading architect and advocate of the Law, Societies, and Justice program as well as the Comparative Law and Society Studies (CLASS) Center, both committed to study of social justice and human rights, at UW starting in the late 1990s; he served as Director of both for a decade, until 2011. McCann also has been a teacher and leader in the UW LSJ Rome Program in Comparative Legal Studies for much of the last decade.

McCann’s research focuses on the politics of rights-based struggles for social justice, with an emphasis on challenges to race, gender, and class hierarchies. He also was an important figure in the interpretive turn toward scholarly analysis of legal discourse as a constitutive form of power. McCann is author of over sixty article-length publications and author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of eight books, including authoring Rights at Work: Pay Equity Reform and the Politics of Legal Mobilization (Chicago, 1994) and (with William Haltom) Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis (Chicago, 2004); both books have won multiple professional awards.