PhD, SJD, Harvard Law School
Deval Desai is post-doctoral research fellow at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy. Mixing legal analysis, social theory, and ethnographic field research, he researches political and legal contestation over the role of expertise in domestic and global law and governance, with an emphasis on the legitimacy and accountability of experts.
Deval explores the political and legal struggles through which expertise might emerge as technocratic, democratically “deficient”, or perhaps even innovatively democratic. He also researches the transnational – and often expert-driven - theory and design of rule of law systems in the global South, in particular the ways in which legal institutions can produce political marginalization as well as novel forms of democratic politics.
His current research projects critically examine ignorance and creativity as modes of regulation and policymaking, focusing on multi-stakeholder initiatives and on rule of law reform. His work has been supported by the British Institute for International and Comparative Law, Harvard’s Institute for Global Law and Policy, the Harvard Program on Negotiation, Canada’s International Development Research Corporation, and many others.
Since 2009, Deval has also worked for the World Bank as a rule of law reform and governance expert in Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Uganda; as well as advising the UN on rule of law issues. As a lawyer, he has worked on corporate accountability, including as an attorney on the case of Kiobel before the US Supreme Court. Trained in history and French literature (M.A., Oxford), and law and social theory (LL.M. and S.J.D., Harvard Law School), he is a member of the Bar of England and Wales.