Dr. Ely Aaronson

Sociology of law,Legal history, Social and political theory, Criminal law and criminal justice, Comparative legal studies

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Ely Aaronson is a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa, Faculty of Law. His scholarship employs historical, sociological, and comparative perspectives to explore the political underpinnings and social consequences of criminalization and penal policies. His first book From Slave Abuse to Hate Crime: The Criminalization of Racial Violence in American History (Cambridge University Press 2014; paperback ed. 2019) examines the role played by debates about the criminalization of racial violence in shaping broader patterns of thinking about racial justice from the slavery era to the present. His recent work has examined the historical transformation of patterns of transnational governance of criminal justice policies from the early twentieth century to the present. He is the co-editor (with Gregory Shaffer) of The Transnational Legal Ordering of Criminal Justice (Cambridge University Press 2020). He was recently awarded a research grant by the Israeli Science Foundation for his new project, examining the long history of debates about the decriminalization of cannabis in the US and in international law.  

Aaronson received his PhD from the London School of Economics, his LL.M from NYU, and an MA in humanities (specialization in the history of ideas) from Tel Aviv University (sumna cum laude). He held visiting research and teaching positions at UC Berkeley (Center for the Study of Law and Society), Sydney Institute of Criminology, and the LSE. At the University of Haifa, he teaches courses in the fields of comparative legal history, sociology of criminal law, globalization and law, and socio-legal theory. He also served as the editor of the peer review journal Law and Government, and as the academic supervisor of the Prisoners' Rights Clinic.



  • PhD, London School of Economics and Political Science (2010)  
  • LLM, New York University (2004)
  • MA, (Humanities), Tel Aviv University, sumna cum laude (2005)
  • LL.B, University of Haifa, magna cum laude (2000)

Fields of research and teaching

  • Sociology and history of criminal law and criminal justice
  • Comparative and transnational criminal justice
  • Law and globalization
  • Law and race
  • Law and social theory
  • Law and film

Recent awards and prizes

  • 2011-2014 Alon Fellowship for Outstanding Junior Scientists
  • 2014-2017 ISF Grant for the project: the impact of globalization on domestic criminalization policy