Prof. Dr. Joachim J. Savelsberg

University of Minnesota

Curriculum VitaeJoachim Savelsberg

Joachim Savelsberg studied Sociology and Economics at the University of Cologne (Diplom 1978), before obtaining his doctorate in Sociology at the University of Trier in 1982. Following a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, he held research appointments at the University of Bremen and at the criminological research institute of Lower Saxony (Kriminologisches Forschungsinstitut Niedersachsen e.V.). Following a John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellowship at Harvard University Joachim Savelsberg was appointed as a professor in the Department of Sociology of the University of Minnesota (1989). He has served as a guest professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (2000), the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (2003-2004) as well as at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2010-2011). He was further awarded fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Minnesota (2007) and – as part of a collaborative residency with John Hagan and Jens Meierhenrich – at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (2010). In 2008, he was elected lifetime fellow of the American Society of Criminology. Professor Savelsberg is also the recipient of numerous research grants and recognitions, such as the Outstanding Book Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (Social Problems and Theory Division 2012) for his publication American Memories: Atrocities and the Law (co-authored with Ryan D. King), the Best Article Award by the American Sociological Association (Section on Culture, 2007) and the Outstanding Article Award of the Law & Society Association (2006). Professor Savelsberg’s most recent research is funded by the National Science Foundation and addresses “Collective Representations and Memories after Judicial Interventions: Darfur in International Comparison”. Together with his colleague, political scientist Timothy Johnson, he is editor of the Law & Society Review, the official journal of the Law & Society Association. From August 2013 until August 2014, Joachim Savelsberg was a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”.

Research Project

Global Human Rights Law and National Cultures: Representing, Remembering, and Controlling Mass Atrocities

My book project has the working title “Repräsentationen schwerer Menschenrechtsvergehen: Justiz und konkurrierende Felder im Zeitalter der Globalisierung” (Collective Representation of Human Rights Crimes: Justice and its Competitors in a Globalizing World). I explore comparatively how representations of mass atrocities in the Global South are generated in complex interaction between global and local actors from different fields, and are mediated by the journalistic field to civil societies of eight Western industrialized countries. I am especially interested in a new brand of global legal institutions, especially the International Criminal Court (ICC), part of the “justice cascade” (Kathryn Sikkink). I also examine how the judicial field is supplemented by the – potentially competing – humanitarian aid and diplomacy fields (Pierre Bourdieu). By examining consequences of ICC actions on collective representations, a Durkheiminan theme, the book addresses one aspect of a broader inquiry into the impact of judicial interventions on ongoing and future mass atrocities. It weighs competing ideas from the world polity school (John Meyer) and cosmopolitanism theory (Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider) against Weberian ideas regarding the filtering of global messages through nation-specific institutions and cultural sensitivities.

My specific case is the mass violence in the Darfur region of Sudan, where ICC intervention has culminated in the issuing of an arrest warrant against the sitting President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, charging him with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Data, deriving from a large scale project funded by the National Science Foundation, are based on content analysis of 3400 media reports and editorials from conservative and left-liberal papers in eight Western countries; numerous conversations and some fifty formal in-depth interviews with Sudan experts in foreign ministries and INGOs and with Africa correspondents from major Western newspapers in the countries under investigation; and finally on ethnographic observation.

Chapters of the book-in-progress, following an introduction (Chapter 1) address Darfur in the context of the “justice cascade” (Chapter2); challenges to the justice cascade from the fields of humanitarian aid and diplomacy (Chapters 3 and 4); the mediation of judicial and competing representations through news media generally (Chapter 5), along the left-liberal versus conservative dimension (Chapter 6); and as mediated by national cultural sensitivities and institutional arrangements (Chapter 7). An attempt to explore the external validity of the Darfur case (Chapter 8) precedes a concluding Chapter 9.

(Selected) Publications

  • Representing Mass Violence: Conflicting Responses to Human Rights Violations in Darfur, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015.
  • Representing Human Rights Violations in Darfur: Global Justice, National Distinctions (with H. Nyseth Brehm), American Journal of Sociology 121/2, 2015.
  • Highlights in the Sociology of Law: Globalizing Law and Penalizing Human Rights Violations, in: Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 167-176, 2013.
  • Writing Human Rights History – and Social Science Encounters: Review Essay on Aryeh Neier’s The International Human Rights Movement: A History, in: Law and Social Inquiry, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 512-37, 2013.
  • Crime, Law, Deviance, in: D. Brunsma et al. (Ed.): The Handbook of Sociology and Human Rights, pp. 129-138, Boulder, CO: Paradigm 2013.
  • Law and Society (mit Lara Cleveland), in: J. Manza (Ed.): Oxford Bibliography Online: Sociology, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2013.
  • Social & Intellectual Contexts of Criminology (with S. Flood), in: R. Rosenfeld (Ed.): Oxford Bibliography Online: Criminology, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012.
  • American Memories: Atrocities and the Law (with R. King). ASA Rose Monograph Series. New York: Russell Sage Foundation 2011.
  • Crime and Human Rights: Criminology of Genocide and Atrocities. London: Sage 2010.
  • Law and Collective Memory (with R. King), in: Annual Review of Law and Social Science 3, pp. 189-211, 2007.
  • Institutionalizing Collective Memories of Hate: Law and Law Enforcement in Germany and the United States (with R. King), in: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 111, No. 2, pp. 579-616, 2005.
  • Constructing White-Collar Crime: Rationalities, Communications, and Power (with contributions by Peter Brühl), Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.
  • Knowledge, Domination, and Criminal Punishment, in: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 99, No. 4, pp. 911-943, 1994.
  • Law That Does Not Fit Society: Sentencing Guidelines as a Neo-Classical Reaction to the Dilemmas of Substantivized Law, in: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 97, No. 5, pp. 1346-81, 1992.