Susan F. Hirsch

Susan F. Hirsch
Professor of Conflict Resolution and Anthropology

Ph.D., Anthropology, 1990, Duke University
Thesis: Gender and Disputing, Insurgent Voices in Coastal Kenyan Muslim Courts
B.A., Anthropology, 1982, Yale College
Magna cum laude with distinction in Anthropology.


Susan F. Hirsch, a cultural anthropologist, is a Professor in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University and Chair of S-CAR’s Faculty Board. From 2009 to present, she has been affiliated in Mason’s Women and Gender Studies Program. Professor Hirsch is the Principal Investigator for the Undergraduate Experiential Learning Project funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), 2011-2013. The project aims at linking theory to practice through pedagogical initiatives, such as experiential learning activities and service learning intensive programs. She is also a recepient of the Point of View Working Group Grant that aims at promoting better learning through practice, 2010-2011. Her current major research and book project (with Dr. Frank Dukes) focuses on conceptualizing stakeholders in the conflict over surface mining in Appalachia.

Professor Hirsch’s most recent book, titled In the Moment of Greatest Calamity: Terrorism, Grief and a Victim’s Quest for Justice (Princeton University Press, 2006) is a reflexive ethnography of her experiences of the 1998 East African Embassy bombings and the subsequent trial of four defendants. As a bombings survivor and a widow of a victim, Professor Hirsch began attending the embassy bombings trial in New York City in January, 2001, and over the next six months came to study it as a legal anthropologist. The volume highlights the difficulties experienced by a terror victim who opposes the death penalty yet seeks to participate in a capital trial

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Awards and Honors
Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation fellowships
Susan Hirsch served as a member, for the third time, of the Final Selection Committee for the Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation fellowships, which support students whose work offers...
FIPSE-Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education
Undergraduate Experiential Learning Project Funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education FIPSE (2011-2013) Susan F. Hirsch (PI)Agnieszka Paczynska (co-PI)School for Conflict Analysis and...
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March 26, 2012
In Chapter 12, “Civilians under the law: Inequality, universalisms, and intersectionality as intervention,” Susan F. Hirsch examines the tacit assumptions underpinning the category of civilians in war as constructed by the architects of international...
Category: Book Chapter
July 18, 1994
Contested States explores how men and women invoke law in their struggles to resist gender, racial, ethnic, religious and class-based domination. The essays in this collection vividly demonstrate people's capacity to rework the content, meaning and processes of...
Category: Book
September, 2008
Category: Journal Article
On August 7, 1998, bombs exploded at two United States embassies in East Africa. American anthropologist Susan Hirsch and her husband Jamal, a Kenyan, were among the thousands of victims, and Jamal died. From there, Hirsch went on to face devastating grief with...
Category: Book
This article compares U. S. and Kenyan media representations of an incident at a Kenyan boarding school during which many young women were raped and several killed by their male schoolmates. The author's analysis of print media accounts reveals that how the press...
Category: Journal Article
January 2006
Category: Journal Article
March 01, 2000
The take-home message of Conley and O'Barr's volume is quite the opposite of one interpretation of the title. Far from being "'just words." legal discourse is speech that matters; it has consequences for the professionals and laypeople who produce it....
Category: Journal Article
September 02, 2014
Residents of the Appalachian coalfields share a history and heritage, deep connections to the land, and pride in their own resilience. These same residents are also profoundly divided over the practice of mountaintop mining—that is, the removal and disposal...
Category: Book
January 01, 2003
Campaigns against domestic violence and projects designed to reform laws are increasingly part of the development initiatives undertaken in African nations. Such projects are subject to standard criticisms of development (e. g., its tendency to enhance the power...
Category: Journal Article
The expansion of international law to address war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide has meant that law is increasingly an available form of intervention in conflict and post-conflict situations. Some of the new legal instruments, such as the...
Category: Book Chapter
August 15, 1998
Based on field research and court testimony, Hirsch's book debunks the conventional view that women are powerless under Islamic law and challenges the dichotomies through which Islam and gender relations are currently understood.
Category: Book
August 01, 2001
Susan Hirsch offers a much needed ethnographic rather than text-based view of gender and a Muslim legal-ethical system. Her interesting book on the gendered nature of Muslim legal disputes in the Kenyan cities of Mombasa and Malindi opens with the familiar claim...
Category: Journal Article
When I visited Kenya in August 2008 many people expressed their high hopes for Barack Obama in the upcoming election and for close U.S./Kenyan relations afterwards. But they also spoke about their fears. Many were convinced that Obama could be attacked or killed...
Category: Papers & Reports
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January 25, 2011
Before Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1998 bombings of two US
Category: Newspaper Article

May 19, 2009
The Obama administration on Thursday announced that for the first time, a Guantanamo detainee is coming to the United
Category: Radio Broadcast

February 04, 2009
Being able to communicate effectively across differences of age, gender, language, culture and political orientation is
Category: Newspaper Article

April 02, 2008
An American college professor whose Kenyan husband was killed in the 1998 al Qaeda suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy
Category: Newspaper Article

October 04, 2010
The current case against Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani could have been bolstered in 2007 when the F.B.I. came to visit him at
Category: Newspaper Article

November 01, 2007
Last January, American C-140 planes launched attacks on southern Somalia killing not only Islamic Courts leaders in
Category: Newsletter Article

April 02, 2008
In a bizarre turn of events, the Pentagon has decided to seek a war crimes tribunal to deal with a Tanzanian man
Category: Newspaper Article

April 26, 2008
Category: Radio Broadcast

July 01, 2006
Category: Radio Broadcast

The verdict in the first federal trial of a former Guantánamo detainee has unleashed the usual chest-thumping and fear-
Category: Newspaper Article

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You are cordially invited to join the UELP (Undergraduate Experiential Learning Project) team on December 5th, 2012 at 2 pm (immediately following the faculty board meeting) for a reception with a discussion and skill-share on implementing Experiential Learning at S-CAR. Are you interested in
December 05, 2012
This dissertation attempts to understand the meta-narratives of justice operating within the Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha, Sahayak Gana (TBMSG), a Dalit Buddhist social movement active in Maharashtra, India.  The movement, a vestige of Dr. B.R.
April 10, 2009
by Dr. Susan F. Hirsch **Winner of the 2007 Law and Society Association Book Prize**
November 30, 2006
Join Doctoral Student:Joseph Obeng-Baahas he defends his proposed Doctoral Disseration entitled
August 29, 2011
Please join Doctoral Candidate Ashad Sentongo as he defends his propossal for a thesis entitled:Re-Imagining Decentralization:Transformation of Relationships between Ethnic Groups and the State
The Promises of Justice after Extreme Violence Susan Hirsch, Director of the undergraduate Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution program Justice meted out in domestic courts is assumed to promote social healing and quell the desire for revenge felt by victims of violence. Mass atrocity,
March 17, 2008
In celebration of the 5-Year Anniversary of ICAR’s Undergraduate Program, a conference will convene to discuss the plights and prospects of youth in post-conflict settings. Much of the literature on activities required to build peace and justice in post-conflict settings explores adult needs
October 30, 2009
Mountaintop Mining in Appalachia:Understanding Stakeholders and Change in Environmental ConflictDr. Susan Hirsch, Professor of Conflict Resolution and Anthropology and former Director of the Undergraduate Program, will be speaking from her new book
February 10, 2015
 The Undergraduate Experiential Learning Project (UELP) at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) invites you to attend a lunch and afternoon of workshops on experiential learning located at Dewberry Hall in the Johnson Center on the Fairfax campus.
December 01, 2011
Join the S-CAR Undergraduate Program for the CONF 490 Research Showcase.  Students will be presenting individual research projects for the undergraduate capstone course.Student Union I, Patriot's Lounge (Atrium), Fairfax Campus10:30 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.Click Below For Showcase Program:/sites/
December 03, 2013
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Many scholar-practitioners have studied gender mainstreaming as a policy tool to help achieve gender equality, but their work does not consider how the related gender equality change and its implementation impact men at a socio-psychological level in male-dominated societies. The impact of such a
April 11, 2012
The Virginia Law Foundation and Virginia Holocaust Museum hosted The Law Day 2010 Conference on Civil Discourse. One of the presenters is Susan F. Hirsch, Ph.D., Legal Anthropologist Professor, and Director, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University.
April 30, 2010
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Campus Information
Location Name:Arlington
Physical Address:

3434 N. Washington Blvd., 5th Floor Arlington, VA 22201

Mailing Address:

3351 N. Fairfax Drive MSN 4D3 Arlington, VA 22201

Fax Number: 703-993-1302
Phone No: 703-993-1300
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Titlesort icon Semester
Brief history of field, survey of key conflict resolution themes and theories, and intervention methods. Overview includes general factors of...
Capstone course in which students reflect on what they have learned, integrating knowledge from course work and...
Introduces field of conflict analysis and resolution. Examines definitions of conflict and diverse views of its...
Examines major theories of conflict causation and motivation. Emphasizes need for theories to inform processes of conflict resolution. Weaves...
In-depth field study of ongoing conflict situations, and design and delivery of intervention processes to manage or...
Contrasts legal processes and institutions with alternative approaches to dispute resolution. Defines and...
Continuation of steps in research process to prepare dissertation and implement published research. Builds on CONF 811 by examining qualitative...
Analyzes theoretical basis undergirding methods of research in conflict resolution. Explores how theory is built...
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