Diving into Faculty Scholarship: Dr. Fiona Shen-Bayh

Posted on September 16, 2022

Our faculty at William & Mary are making global contributions with their research. In our recent blog series, we interview faculty with recent publications for insight into their scholarship.

Dr. Fiona Shen-Bayh, (Assistant Professor, Government and Data Science) recently published Undue Process: Persecution and Punishment in Autocratic Courts.

In 2-3 sentences, describe your scholarship to someone unfamiliar with the field.
Why do autocrats hold political trials when outcomes are presumed known from the start? Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa since independence, this book provides insight into the role of judiciaries in authoritarian regimes: how courts can be used to repress political challengers, institutionalize punishment, and undermine the rule of law.

What was the most exciting/interesting part of this project for you?
I draw on unique, fine-grained archival data on regime threats and state repression to explain why political trials should be thought of as political purges in disguise, providing legal cover for the persecution of regime rivals. This compelling analysis reveals how courts can be used to repress political challengers, institutionalize punishment, and undermine the rule of law.

Who might be interested in reading this book?
This book is of broad interest to students of political science, comparative politics, socio-legal studies, and African politics. It demonstrates examples of multi-method research, makes theory accessible to readers without specialized training in political science or legal studies, and analyzes rich but underutilized archives on African politics.

How did W&M Libraries help support your scholarship?
W&M libraries provided critical access to a wide range of political and legal scholarship, as well as access to digital archives on African politics.

Where can people learn more about your book?
Check out Undue Process: Persecution and Punishment in Autocratic Courts from W&M Libraries!

*W&M faculty and staff who wish to be part of this series should complete the form available at: https://guides.libraries.wm.edu/pubpromotion

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