Alison Brysk, Ph.D.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Country: United States (California)

About Me:

ALISON BRYSK is the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Professor of Global Governance at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  She is the author or editor of fourteen books on human rights, including Speaking Rights to Power, From Tribal Village to Global Village, Human Rights and Private Wrongs, and most recently Contesting Violence Against Women (forthcoming with Oxford University Press). Professor Brysk was selected a Fulbright Professor in 2007 (Canada) and 2011 (India), a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2013-2014, the International Studies Association Distinguished Scholar in Human Rights 2015-2016, the American Political Science Association Distinguished Scholar in Human Rights in 2017, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018. She has lectured in Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bhutan, Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Japan. 

Research Interests

Human Rights

Gender and Politics

International Law & Organization


Latin American And Caribbean Politics

Comparative Democratization

Political Communication


Books Written:

(2018) The Struggle for Freedom From Fear: Contesting Violence Against Women at the Frontiers of Globalization, Oxford University Press

How can we understand and contest the global wave of violence against women? In this book, Alison Brysk shows that gender violence tends to change as countries develop and liberalize, but not in the ways that we might predict. Brysk analyzes the experience of semi-liberal, developing countries at the frontiers of globalization to map out shifting patterns of gender violence and what can be done to change them. As the book shows, gender violence is not static, nor can it be attributed to culture or individual pathology—patterns of femicide and sexual violence track economic, political, and social change. Worldwide, a combination of international action, legal reform, gendered public policy, civil society mobilization, and campaigns for changes in social values work to decrease gender violence. But Brysk goes on to assess the potential, limits, and balance of these measures in specific societies and scenarios of gender violence. Brysk shows that a human rights approach is necessary but not sufficient to address gender violence, and that insights from feminist and critical development approaches are essential.

(2018) The Future of Human Rights, Polity Press

Human rights have fallen on hard times yet they are more necessary than ever. People all over the world - from Amazonian villages to Iranian prisons - need human rights to gain recognition, campaign for justice, and save lives. But how can we secure a brighter future for human rights? What changes are required to confront the regime's weaknesses and emerging global challenges? In this cutting-edge analysis, Alison Brysk sets out a pragmatic reformist agenda for human rights in the 21st century. Tracing problems and solutions through contemporary case studies - such as the plight of refugees, declining democracies like Mexico and Turkey, the expansion of women's rights, new norms for indigenous peoples and rights regression in the U.S. - she shows that the dynamic strength of human rights lies in their evolving political practice. This distinctive vision demands that we build upon the gains of the human rights regime to construct new pathways which address historic rights' gaps from citizenship to security, environmental protection to resurgent nationalism, and globalization itself.

(2013) Speaking Rights to Power, Oxford University Press

How can "speaking rights to power" construct political will to respond to human rights violations worldwide? Examining dozens of cases of human rights campaigns and using an innovative analysis of the politics of persuasion, this book shows how communication politics build recognition, solidarity, and change.