Sally Engle Merry, professor of anthropology and affiliated faculty at NYU School of Law, won the School for Advanced Research’s 2010 J. I. Staley Prize for her book Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Law into Local Justice.

The prize, which includes a $10,000 cash award, recognizes a book that demonstrates innovative and outstanding anthropological scholarship and writing and contributes interdisciplinary work to the field. Merry received the honor on November 19 at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Human Rights and Gender Violence analyzes the application of international human rights laws about gender violence to local problems. Merry wrote the book, she said, “to show the value of an anthropological understanding of the way the human rights system actually works. I also hoped to make it more comprehensible to non-experts, particularly given the Bush-era hostility to international law and human rights. In the course of the research, I was surprised to discover how the core anthropological concept of culture was being used and misused within global discourse. I hope this book will help other ethnographers studying the complicated space of local, national, regional, and international institutions and cultural circulation.”

Posted on December 8, 2010