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Michael Humphrey

Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney

My research interests have focused on large scale social change, the governability of social life and the relations between societies in the North and South. The themes of my research have included international migration, refugees, multiculturalism, community, the city, war, terrorism, law, human rights and transnational governance. The major areas of my research have been in 2 areas: ‘Islam in the West’ and ‘Political Violence and Social Healing’.

My work on ‘Islam in the West’ has explored the changing character of Muslim cultural identity and citizenship in Western societies over the past 25 years. I have analysed the formation of Islam as an immigrant and minority religion in Western societies and showed how place of origin and identity have strongly shaped religious leadership, authority, the practice of Islamic law, organization and ethnic fragmentation. Post September 11 I have explored the way transnational forms of religious identity and governance that have shape Muslim identity and Islam have wider implications for the character of transnational citizenship and global governance.

My research on ‘Political Violence and Social Healing’ has explored the unmaking of societies by violence and therapeutic forms of governance that have emerged to rehabilitate societies and recover state legitimacy and authority. I have contributed to the study of transitional justice through research on truth recovery, victims and victimhood, disappearance, human rights and democratization. The main focus has been on Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa and Lebanon. My research students have also studied disappearance in Sri Lanka, reconciliation in South Africa, social justice in Chile, reconciliation in Bosnia.

My methodology synthesizes anthropological and sociological approaches by focusing on lived experience at particular locations to investigate big issues through a comparative and historical method. I have focused on big issues such as the impact of political violence on society, the politicisation of Islam, the expansion of human rights, neoliberalism and the rescaling of sovereignty in order to develop comparative analytical frameworks to provide greater knowledge about them. My aim has been to develop methodology and analysis appropriate to a globalizing world.


  • 2007–present
    Professor, University of Sydney


  • 1983 
    Macquarie University, PhD, Anthropology
  • 1983 
    University of Sydney, PhD, Anthropology

Research Areas

  • Sociology (1608)
  • Human Rights And Justice Issues (220104)