Michael McCann is Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship at the University of Washington. Michael served as Chair of the Political Science Department for five years in the late 1990s and again for a brief stint in 2010-11. He was the leading architect and advocate of the Law, Societies, and Justice program as well as the Comparative Law and Society Studies (CLASS) Center at UW starting in the late 1990s; he served as Director of both for a decade, until 2011. McCann also has been a teacher and leader in the UW LSJ Rome Program in Comparative Legal Studies for a number of years.
McCann’s research focuses on the politics of rights and rights-based struggles for social justice, with an emphasis on challenges to race, gender, and class hierarchies. He also was an important figure in the interpretive turn toward scholarly analysis of legal discourse as a constitutive form of power. McCann is author of over sixty article-length publications and author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of eight books, including authoring Rights at Work: Pay Equity Reform and the Politics of Legal Mobilization (Chicago, 1994) and (with William Haltom) Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis (Chicago, 2004); both books have won multiple professional awards. McCann has won a variety of awards for conference papers and published articles as well. His current research, with George Lovell, documents and analyzes the history of struggles for socioeconomic rights and social justice by Filipino immigrant workers in the western United States over the twentieth century, culminating in the devastating U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1989 (Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio) that largely killed collective worker challenges to structural race and/or sex discrimination. The book will be titled A Union by Law: Filipino Cannery Workers and the Transpacific Struggle for Social Justice.
Michael was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008), a Law and Public Affairs Program Fellowship at Princeton (2011-12), and numerous NSF and other research grants; he was elected as president of the U.S based international Law and Society Association for 2011-13. Michael won a UW Distinguished Teaching Award (1989) and has recently (2014) won recognition as an outstanding graduate mentor by the UW Graduate School. He is an original member of the Steering Committee for the UW Center for Human Rights and currently is Director of the Political Science Honors Program. In summer, 2014, he assumed a new leadership role as Director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at UW, a center of publicly engaged intellectuals addressing issues of working people around the world and with which McCann has been proudly affiliated since its founding in the early 1990s.