Susan Kang

Susan Kang

Associate Professor
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University of Minnesota
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Susan Kang, Associate Professor of Political Science, received a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a PhD from the University of Minnesota. Her research and teaching interests include international relations, international political economy, labor and human rights, and international law. She has published articles in the following journals: New Political ScienceHuman Rights Quarterly and Journal of Workplace Rights.  Her book Human Rights and Labor Solidarity: Trade Unions and the Global Economy was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2012.  She is the former co-chair of the Labor Project, an American Political Science Association Related Group, and is currently serving as an at-large member of the Executive Committee of the Human Rights Section of the International Studies Association.

Scholarly Work

  • Forthcoming, “What the documents can’t tell you: Participant observation in the field.” Forum contribution in PS: Political Science and Politics.
  • (2016) “Whither Economic and Social Rights: Considering the Place of Economic and Social Rights in the Post-Crisis Context,” in Human Rights Protection for Canadians: International, National, and Provincial Rights Regimes (Gord DiGiacomo, ed.) with Jennifer Rutledge, pp. 359-380.
  • (2013) "Contesting Claims of Science: Democratic Legitimacy and Disrupting Mad Cow Policies in the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement," Globalizations, Volume 10 (4), 587-602.
  • (2013) “Demands Belong to the 99%” Book chapter, in Occupying Political Science: The Occupy Wall Street Movement from New York to the World (2013), Palgrave Macmillan, Christopher Malone, Meghana Nayak, Matthew Bolton, Emily Welty (editors).
  • (2012) “Right v. Privilege: Contesting Public Sector Labor Rights in the United States,” Agora contribution in Human Rights Review, Volume 13 (3): 379-389.
  • (2012) Rights and Solidarity: Trade Union Rights in the Global Economy, University of Pennsylvania Press (Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights)
  • (2010) “Labor and the Bank: Investigating the Politics of the World Bank's Employing Workers' Index.” Journal of Workplace Rights Vol. 14(4) 481-501.
  • (2009). “The Unsettled Relationship of Economic and Social Rights and the West: A Response to Whelan and Donnelly,” Human Rights Quarterly 31(4), pp. 1006-1029.
  • (2009). “Forcing Prison Labor: International Labor Standards, Human Rights and the Privatization of Prison Labor in the Contemporary United States,” New Political Science, 31(2), pp. 137-161.

Research Summary

My research focuses on the ways in which trade unions and other civil society actors challenge the erosion of economic and social rights by unresponsive states.  In addition to conventional domestic strategies, such as strikes or demonstrations, these actors also use international tools such as human rights treaties and institutions to delegitimize existing domestic practices.  I place my research at the intersection of international political economy, international law, and human rights.  I am also interested in the broader shift away from solidarity and class based politics within industrialized democracies since the end of the Cold War.

Area of Expertise

Faculty Expertise: topics/keywords

International Law

Human Rights

Trade Unions

International Organizations

International Political Economy

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