Sociology: Political sociology; transnational social movements; sociology of human rights; globalization; community development; law and society; conflict analysis and resolution; and politics of Burma/Myanmar.
Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Davis, 2003, with interdisciplinary certificate in Social Theory and Comparative History at the Center for History, Society and Culture.
M.A., Sociology, The New School for Social Research, Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, New York, NY, 1991.
B.A., Sociology, (with Alpha Kappa Delta honors), Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, 1987, with Interdisciplinary certificate in Third World Development and Community Politics in the Human Needs and Global Resources Program.
Professor Dale is a specialist in globalization, transnational conflict, and the development of human rights, and is actively engaged in expanding public understanding and discussion of how each of these processes influences the others. Rooted in the disciplines of Sociology, Anthropology, and Conflict Analysis and Resolution, he examines particularly how local and transnational social movements influence the politics, law, and morality of globalization and human rights practice. His approach to understanding globalization and human rights draws substantially from perspectives in political, economic and cultural sociology, political, legal and development anthropology, as well as from methodological approaches to transnationalism deriving from critical and institutional ethnography, and comparative and historical sociology.
For nearly 15 years, he has been researching the transformation of Burma’s domestic pro-democracy movement into a transnational “Free Burma” movement. He has published on its contributions to our understanding of how to rein in corporations that abuse human rights with impunity in order to profit from business partnerships with the authoritarian military junta in Burma (or, as the junta now refers to the country, “Myanmar”). He has also examined how this movement has continued for the past two decades to sustain its underground efforts to institutionalize democratic values and practices within Burma under conditions of extreme state repression. In the process, he has become internationally recognized as an expert on the contentious politics of Burma. Dale has served as an expert source for news articles, and have been invited to provide commentary for TV interviews and reports, on political conflict in Burma in the New York Times, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Toronto Star, Christian Science Monitor, Agence France-Presse, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Myanmar Times, Burma’s The Irrawaddy, The Asian Tribune, C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal, PBS’ NewsHour with Jim Leher, BBC London TV News, Al Jazeera (English) TV News, and Japan Broadcasting Corporation’s NHK TV News; and provides regular analysis and commentary on politics in Burma to the Bangkok bureaus of the Wall Street Journal as well as the Associated Press, which appear in newspapers and electronic news media throughout the world.
Dale’s recent book, Free Burma: Transnational Legal Action and Corporate Accountability(in press, andforthcoming, Spring 2011, University of Minnesota Press), argues that bringing a transnationalist perspective of justice to national legal systems is a central dynamic of globalization that potentially provides resources for defending and advancing human rights “from below.” Activists working in very different movement contexts around the world subsequently have appropriated some of the transnational strategies first created by the Free Burma movement. Furthermore, the Free Burma movement has become highly respected as an innovative partner with transnational advocacy networks promoting human rights, democracy, women’s and children’s rights, environmental sustainability, and corporate accountability. Dale has used the case of the Free Burma movement as well as other cases to research the role that transnational social movements play in two processes of global institutional development in particular that connect actors of wealthier and poorer countries (i.e., actors of the so-called “Global North” and “Global South”). One of these processes is the construction of transnational markets and the regulatory boundaries for sustaining them; and the other is the transnational production of the meaning of human rights practices and their institutionalization. He is exploring the interaction between these two processes with an eye toward mapping modes through which we can better link the two in order to resolve structural injustice and violence. In pursuing this agenda, his research has contributed several new concepts that illuminate our understanding of globalization, including the concepts of transnational legal action, transnational legal space, transnational networks of governance, and the democratization of the production of human rights.
His current research project delves into struggles within the Free Burma movement to thicken the social relations through which they have been constituting their transnational solidarity. He is examining political struggles over the meaning of human rights both within and outside the movement, and the impact that these struggles have on the cultural production and institutionalization of human rights. Activists and advocates within the Free Burma movement have launched a campaign to persuade the United Nations to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Burma’s effective dictator Senior-General Than Shwe since he came to power in 1992. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar has supported the call for this inquiry, and this past summer the United Kingdom and the United States agreed to support it. In all likelihood, it will proceed. Ultimately, the objective of this campaign is to have a Commission of Inquiry find enough documented evidence to support not only these allegations, but also a referral to the International Criminal Court that could result in the indictment of Than Shwe. Dale is researching the ways that they are trying to resolve this tension of promoting greater equality and justice without producing relations and practices that threaten these principles, and the extent to which they can they achieve this while still pursuing campaigns to institutionalize effective new legal mechanisms within national and international systems of governance.
More broadly, this research explores how changes in the way that transnational social movements incorporate into their legal campaigns grassroots conceptions of human rights practice in the Global South can enhance their capacity to influence national and international institutions of governance (as well as transnational networks of governance) for promoting improved human rights practices in the Global South. Underlying this focus are critical questions for our understanding of the relationship between globalization and human rights: can concepts of human rights practice originating in the Global South influence the institutional development of international human rights? Or is it the case instead that this process so fundamentally derives from legal concepts dominated by institutions of the Global North that transnational flows of human rights must remain unidirectional – from the North to the South?
Professor Dale currently serves as Chair of the Global Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and was the recipient of George Mason University’s 2007-2008 Fenwick Fellowship (with Tony Samara) for their project titled, “Transnational Justice and Legal Discourse in the Making of Extraordinary Rendition.”
Free Burma: Transnational Legal Action and Corporate Accountability, (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, in press and forthcoming, Spring 2011)
Political Sociology: Power and Participation in the Modern World. 5th Edition. Co-author with Anthony M. Orum, (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 2009).
“Democratizing the Production of Human Rights in Burma.” Global Studies Review, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Fall, 2010).
“Poverty & Power: The Problem of Structural Inequality.” Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews 39 (January, 2010). Pp. 82-83.
“The Work of Global Justice: Human Rights as Practice.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly Review of Social Movements, Protest, and Contentious Politics Vol. 1, No. 4 (December, 2009). Pp. 517-518.
“Burma’s Boomerang: Human Rights, Social Movements and Transnational Legal Mechanisms ‘from Below’.” International Journal of Contemporary Sociology 45: 1 (April, 2008), Special Issue on “The New World Order - Global Dynamics in the Twenty-First Century.” Pp. 151-184.
“Legal Pluralism within a Transnational Network of Governance: The Extraordinary Case of Rendition.” With Tony Roshan Samara. Law, Social Justice, and Global Development,Vol. 12, No.2 (Winter, 2008), Special Issue on “Legal Pluralism,” Available at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/lgd/
“Transnational Conflict between Peasants and Corporations in Burma: Human Rights and Discursive Ambivalence under the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act.” In Mark Goodale and Sally Engle Merry, eds. The Practice of Human Rights: Tracking Law between the Global and the Local, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2007). Pp. 285-319.
“Smuggling the State Back In: Agents of Human Smuggling Reconsidered.” With David J. Kyle, in Peggy Leavitt and Sanjeev Khagram, eds., The Transnational Studies Reader: Intersections and Innovations, (New York: Routledge, 2008). [This chapter was originally published in David J. Kyle and Rey Koslowski, eds., Global Human Smuggling: Comparative Perspective. (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001). Pp.29-57.]
“Taking Power: On the Origins of Third World Revolutions.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly Review of Social Movements, Protest, and Contentious Politics Vol.12, No. 1 (March, 2007). Pp.106-107.
“In Dire Straits: Why Big Oil Needs Transnational Regulation.” [Book Review of John S. Burnett’s Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas.] Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 59 (2005), No. 1. Pp. 288-295.
Professor Dale was a 2009 Finalist for George Mason University’s Teaching Excellence Award. He teaches courses for both the Sociology and Anthropology Department and the Conflict Analysis and Resolution Program. For the past three years, he has also been teaching a human rights course that uses videoconferencing technology to link in real-time his course with a similar graduate course at the State University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. This Spring, 2011, his course will be experimenting with a new collaborative initiative within the American Sociological Association’s Section of Human Rights to link similar courses with 18 different universities from the world – including South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Israel, Mexico, the West Indies, Australia, Canada, Russia, and others within the United States.
Sociology of Human Rights (SOCI 857 - NEW! Fall 2011)
Globalization and Transnational Social Movements (SOCI 851)
Sociology of Globalization (SOCI 802)
Human Rights and Inequalities (SOCI 395/CONF 399)
Politics, Power, and Society (SOCI 340)
Global Conflict Analysis and Resolution (CONF 340)
Social Movements and Political Protest (SOCI 307)
Armed Conflict and Conflict Resolution (SOCI 326)
Social Structure and Globalization (SOCI 320)
Identity and Conflict Analysis (CONF 302)
Research & Inquiry in Conflict Resolution (CONF 301)
Social Dynamics of Terrorism (CONF 240)
Globalization and Society (for the University Scholars Program) (SOCI 120)
* To obtain a syllabus for any of these courses, please contact Professor Dale