Professor Matiangai Sirleaf serving as editor for upcoming volume on race and national security



Since fall 2020, Matiangai Sirleaf, Nathan Patz Professor of Law, has been a vital member of the Maryland Carey Law community, contributing thought leadership in areas including global public health law, international human rights law, and post-conflict and transitional justice. Students appreciate the opportunity to learn from the dynamic professor. 

 “Professor Sirleaf is constantly engaged ... whether it’s helping to moderate a student organization’s panel, giving a guest lecture at universities across the country (and world), teaching class here at Maryland Carey Law, or writing about the pandemic and its impact on communities across the globe,” said Fasika Delessa ’23, Sirleaf’s research assistant. “She is an amazing professor and scholar because she is committed to uplifting the voices of historically marginalized communities in all that she does,”  

One way Sirleaf shows that commitment is through her current project editing the first thematic print volume in a new series exploring race and national security. The series is a partnership between the online forum Just Security, based out of NYU Law, and Oxford University Press.  

The debut publication Race and National Security, forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2023, builds on Sirleaf’s “Racing National Security” online symposium from summer 2020, which amplified voices that position racial justice as fundamental to understanding national security. Many of those same scholars are expanding their work from the symposium for inclusion in the book. 

“There could be no better — no more important — topic with which to kick off the series,” Just Security’s co-editors-in-chief Tess Bridgeman and Ryan Goodman wrote in an announcement, “and we are delighted to have Professor Sirleaf at the helm.” 

According to Sirleaf, who serves on the Just Security editorial board, the book’s purpose is to assist in defining the field of race and national security. “I am really excited about the volume because it will center national security issues around racial justice and explicitly tie together those issues domestically and internationally,” Sirleaf said. Contributors also challenge traditional notions of what constitutes national security, going beyond topics like military defense and energy security, to explore the impact on national security of considerations such as policing, gender, immigration, religion, digital technologies, and global health. 

In addition to contributions from Sirleaf, the Race and National Security volume will feature pieces from leading thinkers: Aziza Ahmed, University of California, Irvine School of Law; Aslı Bâlı, UCLA Law; Monica Bell, Yale Law; Adelle Blackett, McGill Law; Noura Erakat, Rutgers; James Gathii, Loyola University, Chicago, School of Law; Michele Goodwin, University of California, Irvine, School of Law; Margaret Hu, Penn State Law, University Park; Yurav Joshi, Allard School of Law; Rachel Lopez, Drexel Kline School of Law; Catherine Powell, Fordham Law; Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Temple Law School; and Aziz Rana, Cornell Law School.  

As editor of the volume, Sirleaf convened a Race and National Security virtual workshop in January at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law where contributors shared their works-in-progress and commentators provided feedback. Topics included, “Beyond Color-Blind National Security Law,” “Interconnected Pandemics as Portal to Racial Justice,” “The Border Called My Skin,” and “Racial Transitional Justice in the United States.” 

 “Our workshop discussions were incredibly rich and provocative,” Sirleaf said afterwards. “I cannot wait to share insights from these brilliant minds in the forthcoming volume.” 

Being one of Sirleaf’s research assistants, Delessa got to help organize the workshop. “Professor Sirleaf is one of the hardest working people I know,” she said.  

The workshop sessions were moderated predominantly by Maryland Carey Law faculty, and contributors’ presentations were followed by responses from guest commentators from a host of law schools, including University of Chicago, NYU, UCLA, Georgia State, and Stanford. 

“We are proud that Professor Sirleaf is bringing this important work to Maryland Carey Law and collaborating with experts across the country,” said Dean Donald Tobin. “Her scholarship is deeply enriching the intellectual life of our community.” 


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