Idriss Paul-Armand Fofana, a legal historian whose research examines the relationship between international law and global inequality, has joined the Harvard Law School faculty as an assistant professor of law, effective July 1.  

Previously the Reginald F. Lewis Fellow at Harvard Law School, Fofana focuses his scholarship on African and Asian engagement with transnational legal regimes through subjects as varied as the state’s regulation of private property, non-discrimination standards, the law of treaties, and international labor migration. 

His work spans the fields of African, Chinese and global history, covering the period from early encounters with European imperialism in the 1600s to the anti-colonial and Third World movements of the twentieth century. Fofana, who is completing a Ph.D. from Columbia University this year, focused his Ph.D. dissertation, “Civilizing Labor: A Global Legal History of Chinese and West African Labor Migration, 1600-1900,” on the regulation of labor and migration in southern China, Senegambia, and the Congo basin in the wake of movements for the international prohibition of the slave trade. 

“Idriss Fofana is an extraordinary scholar whose pathbreaking research will open productive new lines of inquiry in international law and legal history,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean of Harvard Law School. “He will also be a wonderful teacher and mentor for our students.” 

“I am honored and thrilled to extend my stay at Harvard Law School by joining the faculty,” said Fofana. “I look forward to engaging with the vibrant African and Chinese studies communities across the university. My goal is ultimately to advance the study and teaching of international law in a manner that is more attentive to the contributions and concerns of non-Western peoples.” 

A native of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Fofana earned an A.B. in physics from Harvard College in 2011 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 2018. 

During 2020–2021, Fofana served as a judicial fellow for Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf, then president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Fofana has also participated in litigation and advocacy on matters of immigration, citizenship, and national security, and he has worked in the public international law and international arbitration practices of major law firms. 

His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Leiden Journal of International Law, the Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d’histoire du droit international, and the Heidelberg Journal of International Law/Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht.

Fofana is expected to teach courses in public international law, legal history, and comparative law.

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