Department of Anthropology

Samuel Law

MA, University of Chicago

Samuel Law



autonomous social movements, informality, collective life, affect, political ecology, human rights & social justice, ideology, infrastructure, autoconstruction, urban studies, worlding, anthropology of the otherwise; Mexico, Latin America.


Sam Law is an Anthropology doctoral student studying autonomous social movements in Mexico City. His research explores how the urban poor establish dignified lives not by making demands of the state, but by building autonomous communities and developing practices of self-organization. Through participant observation and oral history, this research illuminates how these practices – from communal management of security and conflict, auto-construction of housing and shared infrastructure, horizontal decision-making, increasing self-reliance in domains of health care, education and agriculture – generate viable solutions to daily challenges of poverty in the urban periphery and develop novel social forms and new modes of inhabiting the city. 

Previously, he focused on movements against political violence in Mexico and indigenous rights-based claims in a Guatemalan anti-mining struggle. He is interested in experimental ethnographic modes in anthropology and intersections between contemporary art and anthropology.

He received his M.A. from the Program in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and his B.A. in Anthropology from Reed College.  

Outside of his academic work, he participates in autonomous and anti-state communist struggles and likes to run, bike, and otherwise be outdoors. 


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