Satyel Larson

Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies


  • Anthropology
  • Law and society
  • The Maghreb
  • Women, gender and sexuality

Satyel Larson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. She trained across disciplines in cultural anthropology and legal history at UC Berkeley and Harvard University. She received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (2013). 

Her research and teaching lie at the intersections of law, science, technology and society; women, gender and sexuality; reproduction, health and medicine; Islam and secularism; colonialism, postcolonialism and globality; historical anthropology and epistemology; political economy; and language, discourse and narrative. Her work has been focused in Morocco, North and West Africa, the Middle East and the diaspora in Europe. 

Before assuming her professorship at Princeton, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows and Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, where she taught the "Common Core" curriculum in the Division of the Social Sciences.

Professor Larson is finishing a book titled Incalculable Life: Reproduction, Kinship and the Biopolitics of Solidarity in Morocco. Engaged with early-to-mid twentieth-century European social and medical theories about the role of calculability and human calculation in producing knowledge, Incalculable Life shows how European secular colonial ideas of calculability underlie the postcolonial governance of reproduction and reproductive female bodies in contemporary Morocco. The ethnography is told through a case study of "the sleeping baby in the mother's womb," a centuries-old, yet still thriving, indigenous, Islamic reproduction and kinship paradigm that challenges the gender politics of governance aimed towards reproducing calculable life. She is also at work on a second book titled The Gendered Subject of Violence: An Historical Anthropology of "Violence Against Women," a history and ethnography of changing forms of agency in relation to sexual violence, carceral culture and restorative justice in postcolonial North Africa and beyond.

Her work has appeared in several publications, including Islam, Law and Identity, an edited volume that uses cases studies from the around the world to examine the relationship between religion, law, human rights and modernity. She has also written about historical forms of evidence and reasoning used in law to make claims about gender and kinship.

Larson’s research has been supported by awards and fellowships from several sources, including the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Law, Organization, Science and Technology Group), the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Law and Society Association, the Jacob K Javits Foundation, the Center for the Study of Law and Society at Berkeley Law School, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley, the Association for African Studies in Germany (VAD) as well as the University Committee on Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Princeton.

She currently is affiliated with the Program for Gender & Sexuality Studies and the Program in African Studies at Princeton. She was previously Departmental Representative for Undergraduate Studies and a Faculty Fellow for the Fung Global Fellows Program at Princeton.

Selected Publications

“State of Equalities: Law, Marriage and Citizenship in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.” in Islam, Law and Identity. Marinos Diamantidis and Adam Gearey (eds), 136-66. London & New York: Routledge, 2013.