Author Archives: Sharif Youssef

About Sharif Youssef

Sharif Youssef is assistant professor of English and Legal Studies at Ashoka University. He is writing his first book, Actuarial Form: Moral Hazard in the Early Novel, about how novels responded to mass casualty statistics in early political economy and the connected problem of information asymmetry. He recently co-edited an anthology titled Human Rights after Corporate Personhood: An Uneasy Merger? (Toronto, 2020), which explores the naturalization of the corporation under public law.

Refugees and the Rise of the Novel: Trespass, Necessity, and Humanitarian Casuistry in the Long Refugee Crisis

Abstract: The present-day legal theory of the refugee relies on Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase, “the right to have rights.” Yet Arendt also pointed to an earlier tradition of asylum-seeking. In this article, Professor Youssef explores early English novels’ historical association of refugees with the necessity that drives trespass. Examining the early Anglo-American novel in light of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the essay tracks morally involuntary trespass in Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) to argue that the novel models Continue reading → Continue reading →

Necessary Decisions

In 2008, the Nigerian police twice arrested twenty-six-year-old Ugochukwu Chinoso Nwanebu. A peaceful activist, Nwanebu was, like other Igbo secessionists, profiled and persecuted by Nigerian police via systematic torture and assassination. The first time that Nwanebu was arrested, he was tortured. The second time, he was tortured and released; however, he was released only so that police could hunt and kill him for sport. Nwanebu managed to escape and find his way to a relative’s home. Knowing that the police would find him if he Continue reading → Continue reading →