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Dr Deval Desai

Dr Deval Desai

Lecturer in International Economic Law

MA (Oxon), PGDipL, PGDipLP, LLM, SJD

Office hours:

Wednesday 15:00-16:00

Tel: 0131 651 4791


View my full research profile

Dr Deval Desai joined Edinburgh Law School in 2020 as Lecturer in International Economic Law. His work focuses on law and development, administrative law and regulation, theories of the state, and (de)colonial patterns of knowledge and authority. He has taught on these topics on the European Joint Doctorate in Law and Development; the interdisciplinary masters programs at the Graduate Institute, Geneva; Harvard's Institute for Global Law and Policy; and as a visiting professor at Manchester, Northeastern Law School, SOAS, and the Universidad de los Andes.

Deval previously held research positions at Harvard Law School and the Graduate Institute -- where he helped establish and coordinate the Global Scholars’ Academy, to support collaboration and mentorship among junior faculty in the Global South. Deval serves on the editorial board of the Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, the Emerging Scholars Forum of Global Perspectives, and previously sat on the editorial board of the Harvard International Law Journal.

His ongoing research projects include:

  • A PI on a £2.1 million, four-year Swiss National Science Foundation Sinergia project entitled “Reversing the Gaze: Towards Post-Comparative Area Studies” (with B. Korf, E. Macamo, and R. Weber), which studies the politics of social scientific comparative methods as they are applied to political questions in Europe and the Global South;
  • PI on a Swiss National Science Foundation Spark grant, “The Puzzle of Unspent Funds: The Institutional Architecture of Unaccountable Governance” (£99,375), which draws on fiscal sociology and administrative law to study social welfare provision in India and Italy, and its implications for theories of the administrative state in the Global South;
  • A book project on the nature of expertise in law and development, entitled “Expert Ignorance: The Law and Politics of Rule of Law Reform”, under contract with Cambridge University Press; and
  • Co-investigator on a three-year joint Swiss National Science Foundation- Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico grant, “Infrastructuring Democracy: The Regulatory Politics of Digital Code, Content and Circulation” (£267,000, with A. Leander, F. Hoffmann, and L. Fernandes), which draws on theories and methods from international relations and international law to study the regulation of digital programs and platforms that shape democratic politics. 

His work is also informed by a decade of experience working for the World Bank on rule of law and governance in sub-Saharan Africa; as well as advising the UN on rule of law issues.

He trained in history and French literature (M.A., Oxford), and law and social theory (PGDipL and PGDipLP, City University/BPP Law School; LL.M. and S.J.D., Harvard Law School). At Harvard, he held the Byse, Program on Negotiation Next Generation, and Institute for Global Law and Policy fellowships. In recognition of his work on law and development, he held an inaugural Bingham Center International Rule of Law Fellowship. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Ph.D. supervision interests

Deval welcomes proposals for postgraduate research in the areas of law and development, administrative law, regulation, and law and policy.