Law

Meghan L. Morris

Headshot of Meghan L. Morris

Meghan L. Morris

Assistant Professor of Law, College of Law | Affiliate Faculty, Department of Anthropology

About

Professor Morris teaches property, international law, and environmental law. Her scholarship examines the relationship between property and conflict at different scales, from the ways people use property in war and peacemaking to how legal doctrines such as possession, restitution, and good faith figure centrally in private land disputes. She draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, property law, and property theory to rethink property and its role in social life.

Her current book project, Property in the Shadow of Post-Conflict Colombia, is an ethnography of property in the space of ambiguity between peace and war. The manuscript examines two state projects: a national land restitution program designed to return and title rural land to displaced people who lost it in Colombia’s civil war, and a municipal infrastructure project in Medellín that aspired to “turn the page on violence” through green, equitable urban planning. It analyzes the ways that property becomes both a critical element of and an obstacle to peace through these programs, against the backdrop of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. While debates around transitional justice often privilege the penal, the book argues that property’s intimate relationship to other concepts – such as race, territory, violence, speculation, and risk – renders it a generative legal form in war and peace, allowing its reordering to effect broad social, environmental, and political transformation.

Morris also has work published or forthcoming on the ways that property structures citizen-state relations; property and debt; the legal temporality of speculation; and the relationship between property and soil. Her work in progress includes scholarship intervening in the debate around property as the “law of things,” an intellectual history of property in anthropology and legal theory, and a manuscript on the political economy of restitution.

Professor Morris holds a J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School, a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a M.A. in Law and Diplomacy with a focus on international environment and resource policy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a B.S. in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University. Prior to joining the University of Cincinnati, Morris was the ABF/NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Law and Inequality at the American Bar Foundation and a senior researcher at the Bogotá-based Center for Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia). She has also worked in human rights and environmental advocacy in the United States, South Africa, and Latin America.

Education

Ph.D., University of Chicago
J.D., Harvard Law School
M.A.L.D., The Fletcher School at Tufts University
B.S., Cornell University

Areas of Interest

  • Property
  • International Law
  • Legal Anthropology

Courses Taught

  • Property
  • Public International Law
  • Environmental Law

Publications

(* indicates peer review)

“Ground Fictions: Soil, Property, and Markets in the Colombian Conflict.” In Land Fictions: The Commodification of Land in City and Country (D. Asher Ghertner and Robert W. Lake, eds.) (Forthcoming 2021).*

(ed., with Jessica Corredor Villamil) Pandemic Inequality: Civil Society Narratives from the Global South (Forthcoming 2020). Bogotá: Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia). Spanish edition: La desigualdad pandémica: narrativas de la sociedad civil desde el Sur Global.

“The Properties of Debt: Reciprocity, Precarity, and Social Obligation in Medellín.” In Propiedad sobre la tierra en Colombia: viejos y nuevos dilemas sobre la distribución (Property over Land in Colombia: Old and New Dilemmas over Distribution) (Helena Alviar García and Tatiana Alfonso Sierra, eds.) (forthcoming 2020).*

“Speculative Fields: Property in the Shadow of Post-Conflict Colombia.” Cultural Anthropology 34(4): 580-606 (2019).*

(ed., with César Rodríguez-Garavito) Justice through Transitions: Conflict, Peacemaking, and Human Rights in the Global South. Bogotá: Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society, Dejusticia. Spanish edition: Hacer justicia en tiempos de transición: El papel del activismo y las instituciones en el fortalecimiento democrático. Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Editores (2018).

(with César Rodríguez-Garavito) “Writing Justice through Transitions.” In Justice through Transitions: Conflict, Peacemaking, and Human Rights in the Global South (César Rodríguez-Garavito and Meghan L. Morris, eds.). Pp. 10-17. Bogotá: Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society, Dejusticia. Spanish edition: “Escribir la justicia a través de las transiciones.” In Hacer justicia en tiempos de transición: El papel del activismo y las instituciones en el fortalecimiento democrático (César Rodríguez Garavito and Meghan L. Morris, eds.). Pp. 13-19. Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Editores (2018).

“La cuestión de la tierra: el despojo y la posesión en el trabajo etnográfico” (“The Question of Land: Dispossession and Possession in Ethnographic Inquiry”). Revista Colombiana de Antropología (Colombian Journal of Anthropology) 53(1): 27-57 (2017).*

“Property in the Shadow of the ‘Post-Conflict.’” (“La propiedad en la sombra del ‘posconflicto.’”) Fieldsights - Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology Online (2015).

“Situated Storytelling: Vision in the Writing of Law and Justice.” In Human Rights in Minefields: Extractive Economies, Environmental Conflicts, and Social Justice in the Global South (César Rodríguez-Garavito, ed). Pp. 370-377. Bogotá: Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society, Dejusticia. Spanish edition: “Historias situadas. La perspectiva en la escritura del derecho y la justicia.” In Extractivismo versus derechos humanos: Crónicas de los nuevos campos minados en el Sur Global (César Rodríguez Garavito, ed.). Pp. 371-378. Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Editores (2015).

(with César Rodríguez Garavito, Natalia Orduz Salinas, and Paula Buriticá) “La consulta previa a pueblos indígenas: Los estándares del derecho internacional” (“Prior Consultation of Indigenous Peoples: International Law Standards”). Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes (2010).

Works in Progress

Property in the Shadow of Post-Conflict Colombia (Book manuscript) (n.d.).*

“Property and the Social Life of Things” (Law review article manuscript) (n.d.).

“Property in Transition: Legal Fantasies, Land ‘Reforms,’ and Contracting Peace in Colombia” (Conditionally accepted at American Anthropologist) (n.d.).*

“Disappearing Things: An Intellectual History of Property in Anthropology and Legal Theory” (Law review article manuscript in preparation).

“That Was No Landslide: Risky Soil, Territorial Order, and the Buried Truth in Medellín” (Article manuscript in preparation for peer-reviewed journal).*  

“The Political Economy of Restitution” (Law review article manuscript in preparation).

“Matters of Faith: Property and Disorder in Post-Conflict Colombia” (Article manuscript in preparation for peer-reviewed journal).*