Professor Williams Conferred with Honorary Degree by University of Antwerp


05.03.22 —Professor Patricia Williams has received an honorary degree from the University of Antwerp’s faculty of law  in recognition of her expertise in the field of race, gender, literature and law and her outstanding contributions to legal and ethical debates on society, science and technology in the light of individual autonomy and identity.​

Williams was among five researchers and two artists selected to receive honorary degrees. She delivered a masterclass, “The Cupboard of the Emperor: Understanding the Complex Constellations of Language, Race, Governance and Law,” as part of her virtual investiture ceremony on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

“I am so deeply moved by this recognition,” said Williams. “It is a tremendous honor, and I could not be more grateful!”

One of the most provocative intellectuals in American law and a pioneer of both the law and literature and critical race theory movements in American legal theory, Williams holds a joint appointment with the School of Law and the Department of Philosophy and Religion in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. She is also director of Law, Technology and Ethics Initiatives in the School of Law and the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Williams has published widely in the areas of race, gender, literature and law. Her books, including The Alchemy of Race and Rights (Harvard University Press, 1991), illustrate some of America’s most complex societal problems and challenge our ideas about socio-legal constructs of race and gender. Her work remains at the cutting edge of legal scholarship. Drawing on her prior interrogation of race, gender and personhood, Williams’ current research raises core questions of individual autonomy and identity in the context of legal and ethical debates on science and technology. Her work in the area of health and genetics, for example, questions how racial formation is shaped by the legal regulation of private industry and government. Her work on algorithms grapples with the auditing function of technology in our everyday lives — shaping how we understand who we are.

Williams’ current research agenda includes three books in progress: The Complete Mad Law Professor (compilation of The Nation columns); The Talking Helix (focused on bioethics and genetics); and Gathering the Ghosts (a literary and historical text based on Williams’ family archival materials). In addition, she is working on a documentary film that knits together a narratively linked series of video images about the deaths of unarmed citizens beginning with Trayvon Martin.

About Northeastern University School of Law

The nation’s leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country. Northeastern guarantees its students unparalleled practical legal work experiences through its signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. More than 1,000 employers worldwide in a wide range of legal, government, nonprofit and business organizations participate in the program. With a focus on social justice and innovation, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experiences to successfully practice law.

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