Richard Ashby Wilson

Gladstein Distinguished Professor of Human Rights and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor

Anthropology and Law


Ph.D., 1990, London School of Economics and Political Science


Richard Ashby Wilson is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Law, Gladstein Chair of Human Rights, and founding director of the Human Rights Institute.

Wilson is the author or editor of eleven books on anthropology, international human rights, truth and reconciliation commissions and international criminal tribunals. His articles have been published in American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Anthropological Theory, Current Anthropology, Human Rights Quarterly, and the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, as well as in media outlets such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Times Higher Education Supplement, and The Washington Post. His work has been translated into Chinese, Danish, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish. He served as the editor of the journal Anthropological Theory and associate editor of the Journal of Human Rights.

His book, Writing History in International Criminal Trials, selected by Choice in 2012 as an Outstanding Academic Title, analyzed the ways in which international prosecutors and defense attorneys marshal historical evidence to advance their cases. His latest book, Incitement on Trial: Prosecuting International Speech Crimes (Cambridge University Press, 2017) integrates the international law and social science of hate speech, advances a new way of thinking about how speech contributes to genocide and crimes against humanity, and reconceptualizes criminal liability for incitement as a form of complicity.

Having received his BSc. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Professor Wilson held faculty positions in anthropology at the Universities of Essex and Sussex, as well as visiting professorships at the Free University-Amsterdam, University of Oslo, the New School for Social Research and the University of the Witwatersrand. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

He is committed to engaged scholarship and bringing his research into contemporary legal and policy debates about civil rights, human rights, freedom of expression, and racial and economic inequality. From 2009-2013, he served as Chair of the Connecticut State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, during which time the Commission focused on racial profiling in traffic stops and the achievement gap in high schools. In 2021, he was appointed by the governor of the state of Connecticut to the Hate Crimes Advisory Council, and he chairs the Hate Crimes Reporting and Data Analysis Subcommittee. He serves on the international advisory board of the Human Rights Quarterly and The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, as well as the Scientific Oversight Board of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy, and the Community Advisory Board of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

Research Interests

Human rights, law, legal anthropology, hate speech and hate crimes in the United States


  • ANTH 3230. Propaganda, Disinformation, and Hate Speech
  • ANTH 3098. Law, Culture and Society
  • LAW 7883. Human Rights and Post-Conflict Justice
  • HRTS 5301. Contemporary Debates in Human Rights


  • Joint appointment, UConn School of Law
  • Faculty affiliate, UConn Department of Philosophy



Wilson, Richard A. (2017) Incitement on Trial: Prosecuting International Speech Crimes. Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, Richard A. (2011) Writing History in International Criminal Trials. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title.

Fardon, Richard, Olivia Harris, Trevor Marchand, Mark Nuttall, Cris Shore, and Richard A. Wilson, Editors, (2012) A Handbook of Social Anthropology. Volumes 1-2. London: Sage.

Wilson, Richard A. and Richard D. Brown, Editors, (2008) Humanitarianism and Suffering: the mobilization of empathy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, Richard A., Editor, (2005) Human Rights in the War on Terror. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, Richard A. and Jonathan Mitchell, Editors, (2003) Human Rights in Global Perspective. London, New York: Routledge.

Wilson, Richard A. (2001) The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: legitimizing the post-apartheid state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cowan, Jane, Marie B. Dembour, Richard A. Wilson, Editors, (2001) Culture and Rights: Anthropological Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, Richard A., Editor, (1997) Human Rights, Culture and Context. London: Pluto Press.

Wilson, Richard A. (1995) Maya Resurgence in Guatemala: Q’eqchi’ experiences. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Gills, Barry, Joel Rocamora and Richard A. Wilson (1993) Low Intensity Democracy: Political Power in the New World Order. London: Pluto Press.


Fellowships from: Institute for Advanced Study-Princeton, National Endowment for the Humanities, Russell Sage Foundation

Richard Ashby Wilson
Contact Information
Office LocationBeach Hall (BCH) 405