Alan Keenan

Region of Interest

South Asia

Primary Country of Residence

United States of America


Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science


Bryn Mawr College


Mailing Address

Department of Political Science
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr PA 19010-2899 USA

Phone/Fax Number(s)

phone: 610-527-1336
fax: 610-526-7475


Countries of Specialization

Sri Lanka


PhD in political theory from the Johns Hopkins University

Research Interests

Field research, sponsored by a postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania's Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict, focused on the work of Sri Lankan human rights groups and other local "civil society" organizations and the role their efforts played in attempts to bring about a negotiated settlement to Sri Lanka's two decade old war.

Presently working on a book manuscript that examines the complex politics of human rights in Sri Lanka, with particular focus on the difficult relations between the discourses of "human rights" and of "conflict resolution."

Teaching Interests

Teach courses on human rights, conflict, democratization, and transitional justice.

Taught political, legal, and social theory at the Universities of California at Berkeley and at Santa Cruz


"Democracy in Question: Democratic Openness in a Time of
Political Closure" (Stanford Univ. Press, 2003)

"Human Rights and Sacred Cows: Framing Violence, Disappearing Struggles,"
co-authored with Vasuki Nesiah, forthcoming in Neve Gordon, ed.,
Human Rights from the Margins: Critical Interventions from Around the
Globe, (New York: Lexington Books, 2004).

"Building a Democratic Middle-Ground: Professional Civil Society and the
Politics of Human Rights in Sri Lanka's Peace Process," forthcoming in
Jeff Helsing and Julie Mertus, eds., Human Rights and Conflict: New
Actors, Strategies and Ethical Dilemmas (Washington, DC: United States
Institute of Peace, 2005).

"'Is Past Past?': The Question of Transitional Justice in Sri Lankan
Human Rights Education," co-authored with Sophia Elek, a report
commissioned by The International Center for Transitional Justice
(New York: ICTJ, June 2003).

"Democratizing Human Rights, Strengthening Peace: Sri Lanka's Historic
Challenge," Tamil Times (London) Vol. XXII, No. 3, (March 15, 2003).


human rights ; civil society ; conflict resolution ; ...