Sally Engle Merry

Senior Scholar

Ph.D., Brandeis University

Explores the role of law in urban life in the United States, in the colonizing process, and in contemporary transnationalism

Sally Engle Merry, Ph.D., is a senior scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and the Silver Professor of Anthropology at New York University. Her research explores the role of law in urban life in the U.S., in the colonizing process, and in contemporary transnationalism. She was previously on the faculty of Wellesley College, where she was the Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and Professor of Anthropology. In 2007 she received the Kalven Prize for scholarly contributions from the Law and Society Association.


Merry is past-president of the Law and Society Association and the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology and currently a member of the Executive Boards of the American Anthropological Association and the Law and Society Association.

Selected Publications - Books

The Seductions of Quantification: Measuring Human Rights, Gender Violence, and Sex Trafficking (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

The Quiet Power of Indicators: Measuring Governance, Corruption, and the Rule of Law(Cambridge University Press, 2015) (ed. with Kevin E. Davis and Benedict Kingsbury)

Governance by Indicators: Global Power through Quantification and Rankings (Oxford University Press [in association with] Institute for International Law and Justice, New York University School of Law, 2012) (ed. with Kevin E. Davis, Angelina Fisher, and Benedict Kingsbury)

Gender Violence: A Cultural Perspective (Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008)

The Practice of Human Rights: Tracking Law Between the Global and the Local (Cambridge University Press, 2007) (with Mark Goodale)

Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Law into Local Justice(University of Chicago Press, 2006)

Law and Empire in the Pacific: Hawai'i and Fiji (School of American Research Press, 2004) (ed. with Donald Brenneis)

Colonizing Hawai'i: The Cultural Power of Law (Princeton University Press, 2000)

The Possibility of Popular Justice: A Case Study of American Community Meditation(University of Michigan Press, 1993) (ed. with Neal Milner)

Selected Publications - Articles

"Indicators as a Technology of Global Governance," 46 Law & Soc’y Rev. 71 (2012) (with Kevin E. Davis and Benedict Kingsbury) Abstract

"What Is Legal Culture? An Anthropological Perspective," 5 J. Comp. L. 40 (2010)

"Anthropology and American Colonialism," 1 North American Dialogue 7 (2008)

"Mediator Settlement Strategies," 8 Law & Pol’y 7 (2008) (with Susan Silbey) Abstract

"Human Rights and Transnational Culture: Regulating Gender Violence Through Global Law," 44 Osgoode Hall L.J. 53 (2006) Abstract

"Transnational Human Rights and Local Activism: Mapping the Middle," 2 World Bank Legal Rev.: L. Equity & Dev. 38 (2006)

"The Female Inheritance Movement in Hong Kong: Theorizing the Local/Global Interface with CA Comment," 46 Current Anthropology 387 (2005)