Rajesh Sampath

Associate Professor, Philosophy of Justice, Rights and Social Change
Heller School for Social Policy and Management
Brandeis University
Waltham, Massachusetts

rajesh sampath portraitI am currently the lead investigator of the Program on Social Exclusion at Brandeis University’s Heller School Center for Global Development and Sustainability. In April 2019, I was part of small group of individuals invited for a summit in Dakar, Senegal. The gathering included members of parliaments of African governments, heads of African regions for Amnesty International, advisers to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on minority rights, and executives from several major international NGOs.

The goal was to explore conditions to produce a new, historic declaration calling for a ban against discrimination on the basis of work and descent: that would include modern forms of slavery, caste and other similar, intergenerational, hereditary-based hierarchical systems across different societal, cultural, national and regional contexts in Africa, South Asia and Asia, which are not covered within existing U.N. declarations, conventions and treaties. I was invited to the International Congress on Discrimination based on Work and Descent in September 2019 in New York, which coincides with the 74th Session of the U.N. General Assembly's gathering of world leaders.

I am particularly interested in exploring how and why the language of current human rights instruments on race, xenophobia, ethnicity, gender, religion, indigeneity, nativity and other acknowledged characteristics fail to capture the complexity, intersectionality and nuance of discrimination on the basis of work and descent.  With others I am exploring how to craft new language in global comparative contexts of DWD in an effort to build international consensus towards an ultimate ban of its practices wherever they persist.

As for my background, I completed my PhD at the University of California, Irvine, in the humanities with a concentration in modern continental European philosophy and critical theory at the Critical Theory Institute. I studied under the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the founder of deconstruction. My areas of specialization centered on the philosophy of history, historical time and epochal shifts. Subsequently, I did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, and a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) research scientist fellowship in Germany, where I published articles in continental European philosophy.

In fall 2018, I contracted with Routledge Press (Taylor and Francis Group) for its first book on Ethics and Development in their long-standing series in development studies. In addition to publishing in peer-reviewed academic journals and book chapters in scholarly anthologies, I have written an op-ed for The Washington Post, a letter to the editor for The New York Times, a short article for The Conversation, and blogs for the Huffington Post on various topics in comparative constitutional law, public and social policy. I appeared on a panel on HuffPost Live that discussed diversity, rights and free speech at American university campuses. I was also invited by Al Jazeera America to appear on the Sunday evening news, where I analyzed the 2015 Indian Supreme Court hearing on LGBTQ rights.

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