School of Social and Political Science

Nicola Perugini

Job Title

Senior Lecturer in International Relations

Nicola Perugini's picture

Room number

4F1, Room 4.03

Street (Address)

18 Buccleuch Place

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Political violence; international politics of human rights, humanitarianism, and international law; race and colonialism; Middle East

Topics interested in supervising

Political violence, war, international law, human rights, humanitarianism, colonialism, imperialism, Middle East.


Nicola Perugini is a political anthropologist who teaches politics and international relations. His research focuses mainly on the politics of international law, human rights, and violence. He is the co-author of The Human Right to Dominate (Oxford University Press 2015), Morbid Symptoms (Sharjah Biennial 13, 2017), and Human Shields. A History of People in the Line of Fire (University of California Press 2020). Nicola has published articles on war and the ethics of violence; the politics of human rights, humanitarianism, and international law; humanitarianism's visual cultures; war and embedded anthropology; refugees and asylum seekers; law, space and colonialism; settler-colonialism. Nicola is currently working on three research projects. The first, "Decolonising the Civilian," examines decolonisation and national liberation wars, international law, and the status of civilians in armed conflicts. The second is an exploration of the global history of the University of Edinburgh during the mandate of one of his imperial chancellors, Arthur James Balfour.  The third is focused on the fascist institution of youth summer colonies and their relationship with the history of race and Italian colonialism. Nicola has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (2012/2013), a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University (2014-2016), and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (2017-2019), and a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow (2022/2023). He has taught at the American University of Rome, the Al Quds Bard College in Jerusalem where he also directed the Human Rights Program, Brown University, and the University of Bologna. He has served as consultant for UNESCO and UN Women. His opinion pieces have appeared in Al Jazeera English, London Review of Books, Al-Akhbar,  Al-Ayyam, Newsweek, Internazionale, The Nation, the Huffington Post, The Conversation, Just Security, Open Democracy, Counterpunch, The Herald, The National, Jadaliyya, +972 Magazine, e-flux.




2020 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, Human Shields. A History of People in the Line of Fire (University of California Press, 2020). 

       Runner up, 2022 International Ethics section of the International Studies Association's Book Prize. 

       Shortlisted, 2021 British International Studies Association Susan Strange Best Book Prize.

       BBC Radio Thinking Allowed's episode on Human Shields. Nicola Perugini in conversation with Laurie Taylor

Reviews: Samuel Moyn: "Human Shields is one of the most important interventions ever in the critical history of the laws of war;" Laleh Khalili: "Compellingly important and thoroughly absorbing;" Los Angeles Review of Books: "The human shield faces us; we are its audience. The key contribution of this timely book is to elucidate that speech acts about human shielding authorize some forms of action and enable particular constellations of actors while delegitimizing and disabling others;" Political Studies Review: "Through analysing the contradictions, evolutions, and the legal ambiguity surrounding human shields, they contend convincingly that 'humanity' is not a politically neutral category;" International Politics Review: "By far the best analysis of the subject so far" Peace and Change: "A compelling, thoughtful, and ambitious book, which successfully takes a novel - if troubling- micro-issue of conflict and explores it through a macro multi-disciplinary lens;" Humanity: "A startling new take on the history of war, morality, and law;" Al Akhbar "Gives the issue of human shields the roots of the term and re-narrates their manifestation in major historical moments and contemporary sites;" Journal of the History of International Law: "Thoughtful and elegant. . . . What elevates the book is its theoretical framework of inclusion and exclusion -through this prism, the book is able to examine and interrogate a number of fascinating theoretical and practical questions, using unusual and innovative examples to further explore their thesis;" CHOICE: "A wide-ranging, accessible book that focuses on the ethical and legal dilemmas connected with a practice that blurs the distinction between combatants and noncombatants. . . . An invaluable tool for courses on conflict and human rights, especially because it provides relevant evidence and arguments, without offering an easy resolution to the dilemmas posed;" Journal of Palestine Studies: "Human Shields provides a critical new addition to the literature on international law. The book demonstrates the ways in which powerful states have continued to utilize IHL as a tool for aggression against marginalized communities"

2017 Nicola Perugini, Mimi Cabell, and Samir Harb, Morbid Symptoms, Sharjah and Ramallah, Sharjah Biennial 13.

2015 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, The Human Right to Dominate, Oxford University Press.

      Italian translation: Il diritto umano di dominare, Roma, Nottetempo, Roma, 2016.

      Arabic translation: عن حق الإنسان في الهيمنة, Arab Center For Research and Policy Studies, Doha, 2018.

Reviews: American Ethnologist Vol. 43, n. 2 (2016): “The authors sharpen our understanding of [the] contemporary politics [of human rights] and enable a sobering assessment of notable developments in the field;” Global Discourse Vol.6: “A surprising book;” Issue 3 (2016); Human Rights Review, Vol. 18, n.1 (2017): “A contestation of much of contemporary human rights discourse and government and NGO human rights ‘practice;’” Human Rights Law Review Vol. 16, n. 2 (2016): “A critical, compelling and innovative analysis of human rights;” Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 46, n. 2 (2017): “An important theoretical argument with global ramifications;” Law and Society Review Vol. 50, n. 1 (2016): “A disturbingly powerful book that shakes off all preconceived ideals about human rights and NGOs;” Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée Vol. 143 (2017): “Un travail qui ne cède rien en termes de rigueur argumentative;” Journal of International Political Theory (2018): “A contribution inviting us to think of human rights in terms of deeply ambivalent politics.” 

Edited Special Journal Issues

2024 (forthcoming), Nicola Perugini and Walaa Alqaisiya (eds), Special issue "The Academic Question of Palestine," Middle East Critique 

2017 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon (eds), Special Symposium “Critical Perspectives on Human Shields,” American Journal of International Law, Unbound Edition, Volume 110

Edited Book Forums

2022 Nicola Perugini and Dirk Moses, “Human Shields and the Problem of Genocide,” International Politics Review, Feb.


2024 (forthcoming) Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, "Medical Lawfare: The Nakba and Israel's Attacks on Palestinian Healthcare," Journal of Palestine Studies

2024 Nicola Perugini, "Decolonising the Civilian in Third World National Liberation Wars," Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Pages 1-26

2022 Nicola Perugini e Dirk Moses, “Human Shields and the Problem of Genocide,” International Politics Review, Vol. 10, 1–6

2021 Nicola Perugini, "Quarantine Teaching Will Make Us immortal," Cartografie sociali. Rivista di sociologia e scienze umane, Issue 10-11

2021 Nicola Perugini and Shaira Vadasaria, "Arthur James Balfour: The University of Edinburgh’s Imperial Chancellor (1891-1930)," Retrospect Journal, Issue 24, Pages 24-27

2020 Nicola Perugini, "Human Screens: Bodies, Media and the Meaning of Violence," img journal, N. 3, Pages 307-333

2019 Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, "'Hospital Shields' and the Limits of International Law," European Journal of International Law, Volume 30, Issue 2,  Pages 439–463

2019 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, "Between Sovereignty and Race: The Bombardment of Hospitals in the Italo-Ethiopian War and the Colonial Imprint of International Law," State Crime, Vol. 8 Iss. 1, Pages 104-125

2019 Nicola Perugini, “Settler Colonial Inversions: Israel’s 'Disengagement' and the Gush Katif ‘Museum of Expulsion’ in Jerusalem,” Settler Colonial Studies, Volume 9, Pages 41-58

2017 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, "Distinction and the Ethics of Violence: On the Legal Construction of Liminal Subjects and Spaces," Antipode. A Radical Journal of Geography Vol 49, Issue 5, Pages 1385–1405 

2017 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, “Human Rights and Domination,” Amsterdam Law Forum, Vol. 9, n. 2,  Pages 136-146.

2017 Nicola Perugini and Francesco Zucconi, “Enjoy Poverty: Humanitarianism and the Testimonial Function of Images”, Visual Studies

2016 Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, “Human Shields, Sovereign Power, and the Evisceration of the Civilian,” American Journal of International Law, Unbound Edition, Volume 110, Pages 329-324.

2016 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, “Introduction to Symposium on Critical Perspectives on Human Shields,” American Journal of International Law, Unbound Edition, Volume 110, Pages 296-298.

2016 Nicola Perugini and Francesco Zucconi, “Pasolini decoloniale: La rabbia tra Africa, Asia e Americhe” (Decolonial Pasolini: The Anger between Africa, Asia and Americas”,  Afriche e Orienti

2016 Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, “The Politics of Human Shielding: On the Resignification of Space and the Constitutions of Civilians as Shields in Liberal Wars”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol 34, Issue 1, Pages 168-187.

2015 Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, “Protective Edge and Human Shields”, Retos Internacionales, 5, n. 11, Pages 93-102

Arabic translation: Mada al-Carmel, Israeli Studies Program, Vol. 3, 2014.

2014 Nicola Perugini “The Moral Economy of Settler Colonialism. Israel and the ‘Evacuation Trauma’”, History of the Present, Vol 4., n. 1, Pages 49-74

2013 Nicola Perugini, Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, and Eyal Weizman, “The Lawless Line”, London Review of International Law, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Pages 201-209

2013 Nicola Perugini and Francesco Zucconi, “Estetica e politica della vita povera” (Aesthetics and Politics of Poor Life) Fata Morgana, Quadrimestrale di cinema e visioni (Fata Morgana, Journal of Cinema and Visions), N. 20, Pages 181-189 (ITA)

2012 Nicola Perugini and Kareem Rabie, “I coloni togati” (Gowned Settlers), Limes, Rivista italiana di geopolitica (Limes, Italian Journal of Geo-Politics), 2-12, Pages 78-95 (ITA)

2012 Nicola Perugini and Tommaso Sbriccoli, “Dai paesi di origine alle Corti italiane: Campi, diritto e narrazioni nella costruzione della soggettività dei rifugiati” (From the Homelands to the Italian Courts: Camps, Law and the Construction of Refugee Subjectivities), Antropologia Medica (Medical Anthropology, Journal of the Italian National Society of Medical Anthropology), 33-34, Pages 95-128 (ITA)

2011 Alessandro Petti, Nicola Perugini, Eyal Weizman and Sandi Hilal,  “Linea verde: il limes senza legge” (“Green Line: the Lawless limes”), Limes, Rivista italiana di geopolitica (Limes, Italian Journal of Geo-Politics), n.3, 2011, Pages 123-128 (ITA)

2010 Nicola Perugini, “‘The frontier is where the Jews live’: a case of Israeli ‘democratic colonialism’,” Journal of Law and Social Research, Issue 1, n.2, Pages 73-90

2010 Nicola Perugini, “Who owns the lines?”, Pace, Conflitti e Violenza, Anno VII,  Vol. 7,  n. 11,  Fall, Pages 23-27 (ITA)

2010 Alessandra Gola, Nicola Perugini, and Samir Harb, “The recovery of historical paths as tool for social and territorial development: the Palestinian case of Battir”, Almatourism, Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development, Vol. 1, n.1, Pages 60-66

2008 Nicola Perugini, “Anthropologists at War: Ethnographic Intelligence and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan”, International Political Anthropology, Issue n.2, November, Pages 213-227

Italian translation: “La conoscenza culturale del nemico”, Afriche e Orienti, Issue n. 3-4, and Jura Gentium, Journal of Philosophy of International Law and Global Politics, Vol. VI, n. 2, Pages 57-69 (ITA)


Chapters in Collective Volumes

2023 (forthcoming) Nicola Perugini, “Civilians as Human Screens: Bodies, Media, and the Meaning of Violence,” in Sandra Noeth, Janez Janša, and Sandra Umathum (eds.), Shielding, Bielefeld, Verlag, p. 15-33

2023 Nicola Perugini, “Ecco la matrice del colonialismo d’insediamento,” in Diritti umani in Palestina (Roma: Altreconomia), p. 12-16

2021 Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, "Menschenrechte" [Human Rights], in David Renan (ed.), Sprach Gewalt. Missbrauchte Worter Und Andere Politische Kampfbegriffe, Bonn, Dietz, Pages 257-271

2019 Nicola Perugini and Francesco Zucconi, “La rabbia: Pasolini’s Ecstasy of Color,” in Luca Peretti and Karen T. Raizen, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Framed and Unframed: A Thinker for the Twenty-First Century, London, Bloomsbury, Pages 99-110

2018 Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, “Liminality and the Ethics of Violence in Contemporary War”, in John Agnew and Mathew Coleman, Handbook on the Geographies of Power, Edward Elgar, London, Pages 277-296

2018 Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, “Are Human Rights an Effective Weapon in the Struggle for Justice in Palestine? Response to Jessica Montell,” in Jamie Stern-Weiner (ed.), Moment of Truth. Tackling Israel-Palestine’s Toughest Questions, OR Books, Pages 335-340.

2018 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, “Liminal Bodies, Liminal Subjects: Notes on Distinction and the Contemporary Ethics of Violence,” in Gurur Ertem and Sandra Noeth (eds), Bodies of Evidence. Ethics, Aesthetics, and Politics of Movement, Passagen Verlag, Vienna, Pages 171-190.

2017 Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, “Israel/Palestine, Human Rights and Domination,” in Anthony Tirado Chase (ed.), Routledge Handbook on Human Rights and the Middle East and North Africa, Routledge, London and New York, Pages 419-430.

2014 Nicola Perugini and DAAR , “The Thickness of Lines”, in Forensic Architecture, ed., FORENSIS: The Architecture of Public Truth, Sternberg Press, Berlin-New York, Pages 152-158

2013 Nicola Perugini and DAAR , “Common Assembly”, in E. Weizman, A. Petti, S. Hilal, Architecture After Revolution, Sternberg Press, Berlin-New York, Pages 130-153

2013 Nicola Perugini, Introduction to Judith Butler, Can One Lead a Good Life in a Bad Life?, Nottetempo, Roma, Pages 5-11 (ITA)

2012 Nicola Perugini and Kareem Rabie, “The Human Right to the Colony”, in S. Jacoviello, T. Sbriccoli (eds.), Shifting Borders: European Perspectives on Creolization, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Pages 35-56

2011 Nicola Perugini, “Arruolamento cognitive e arruolamento politico: un’antropologia politica dello sguardo” (Cognitive Enrolment and Political Enrolment: a Political Anthropology of Gaze), in M. Coviello, D. Chimenti, F. Zucconi (eds.), Sguardi incrociati. Cinema, testimonianza, memoria nel lavoro teorico di Marco Dinoi, Ente dello Spettacolo, Roma (ITA), Pages 227-241

2007 Nicola Perugini, “Territoriality among the Zaian of the Central High-Plateau (Morocco). Transformations and continuities”, in Pier Giorgio Solinas (ed.) Campo, spazio, territorio. Approcci antropologici, Catania (ITA), ED.IT, Pages 35-60 


Book reviews

2020  Nicola Perugini, Rights as weapons: Instruments of conflict, tools of power: by Clifford Bob (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), Contemporary Political Theory, Vol. 20, p. 41-44

2020  Nicola Perugini, A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine: by Lori Allen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2020), Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol.51 (2), p.74-75

2017  Nicola Perugini, Starve and Immolate. The Politics of Human Weapons: Banu Bargu (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), Constellations, 2017, Vol.24 (3), p.486-488

2016  Nicola Perugini, Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule: by Ilana Feldman (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015), Journal of Palestine studies, 2016, Vol.46 (1), p.69-71


Selected op-eds, magazine articles and blogs

2022 Fascist Sunbathing and the Decolonization of Architectural Memory, e-flux Journal, Issue #131.

2022 “Why we need to challenge Russia’s human shields narrative,” Al Jazeera English 3 April.

2021 Invited blog: “Proximate ‘human shields’ and the challenge for humanitarian organizations,” International Committee of the Red Cross Humanitarian Law and Policy Blog, 18 November.

2021 “The Balfour Declaration and Edinburgh: Is it time the university made amends?” The National, 31 October.

2020 “White shields,” London Review of Books, 9 June.

2020 “Portland's Voluntary Human Shields Bring New Kind of Solidarity to America,” Newsweek, 8 March.

2018 “Migrant caravan: branding migrants ‘human shields’ has a deadly motive,” The Conversation, 19 November.

2018 ‘Museums and Imperialism,’ The Herald Scotland, 17 January.

2017  “I carabinieri rileggono il colonialismo fascista,’ Internazionale, 27 November.

2017 “Israeli” legislation on Hezbollah at the US Congress,”Al Jazeera English, 9 November.

2016 ‘Military Attacks on “Hospitals Shields”: The Law Itself is Partly to Blame,’ Just Security, 20 Octtober.

2016 “The Threat of Human Rights”, Open Democracy (Open Global Rights), February 23.

2015 “Human Shields: The Weapon of the Strong”, Just Security, October 22.

2015 “Is There A Human Right to Kill?” The Nation, July 2.

2015 “Death in the Mediterranean”, Al Jazeera English, April 21.

2015 “Israel and the ICC”, London Review of Books, 21 January.

2014 “On ‘human shielding’ in Gaza”, Al Jazeera English, 18 July.

2013 “Israel’s Indigenous Invaders”, Al Jazeera English, 10 July.

2013 “He sings in the prison”, London Review of Books, 11 April.

2012 “Weaponising trauma: Israel’s ‘Pillar of Defense’”, Al Jazeera English, 25 November.

Staff Hours and Guidance

Tuesday 1pm-3pm, or by appointment.

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Gordon N, Perugini N. Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of fire. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2020. 312 p.
Perugini N. [Review of] Rights as weapons: Instruments of conflict, tools of power. Clifford Bob Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019, 220pp., ISBN 9780691166049. Contemporary Political Theory. 2020 Jan 16. Epub 2020 Jan 16. doi: 10.1057/s41296-020-00378-5
Perugini N, Gordon N. “Hospital Shields” and the Limits of International Law. European Journal of International Law. 2019 Jul 22;439-463. doi: 20.500.11820/8027da2e-e8ac-401a-b672-7f5ef152c3a0, 10.1093/ejil/chz029
Perugini N. Settler colonial inversions: Israel's ‘disengagement’ and the Gush Katif ‘Museum of Expulsion’ in Jerusalem. Settler Colonial Studies. 2019 Feb;9:1-18. Epub 2018 Oct 31. doi: 10.1080/2201473X.2018.1487121
Perugini N, Gordon N. Between Sovereignty and Race: The Bombardment of Hospitals in the Italo-Ethiopian War and the Colonial Imprint of International Law. State Crime Journal. 2019 Jan 1;8(1):104-125. doi: 20.500.11820/09cc2a58-72ab-49b1-bb5b-ae5fecd80b3c, 10.13169/statecrime.8.1.0104
Perugini N, Zucconi F. La rabbia: Pasolini's color ecstasy. In Peretti L, Raizen KT, editors, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Framed and Unframed: A Thinker for the Twenty-First Century. 1 ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 2018. p. 99-110
Kelly T, Perugini N, Thaler M. Dead bodies (do not) matter. 2018.
Gordon N, Perugini N. Human shields and the political geography of international humanitarian law. In Coleman M, Agnew J, editors, Handbook on the Geographies of Power. Edward Elgar Publishing. 2018. p. 277-296. (Research Handbooks in Geography). doi: 10.4337/9781785365645.00026
Perugini N, Gordon N. Distinction and the ethics of violence: On the legal construction of liminal subjects and spaces. Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography. 2017 Nov 1;49(5):1385-1405. Epub 2017 Jul 1. doi: 10.1111/anti.12343
Perugini N. [Review of] STARVE AND IMMOLATE. THE POLITICS OF HUMAN WEAPONS. Bargu, Banu New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory. 2017 Oct 11;24(3):486-488. doi: 10.1111/1467-8675.12315
Perugini N, Gordon N. Human Shields, Sovereign Power, and the Evisceration of the Civilian. American Journal of International Law. 2017 Jan 11;AJIL Unbound(110):329. doi: 10.1017/aju.2016.7
Perugini N, Gordon N. Introduction to symposium on critical perspectives on human shields. American Journal of International Law. 2017 Jan 11;110:296-298. doi: 10.1017/aju.2016.1
Perugini N, Zucconi F. Enjoy Poverty: Humanitarianism and the testimonial function of images. Visual Studies. 2017;32(1):24-32. Epub 2017 Jan 5. doi: 10.1080/1472586X.2016.1246066
Perugini N. Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule, by Ilana Feldman. Journal of Palestine Studies. 2016 Dec 27;46(1):69. doi: 10.1525/jps.2016.46.1.69
Perugini N, Gordon N. The Politics of Human Shielding: On the Resignification of Space and the constitution of civilians as shields in liberal wars. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 2016 Feb 1;34(1):168-187. Epub 2015 Sept 28. doi: 10.1177/0263775815607478
Perugini N, Gordon N. The Human Right to Dominate. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 216 p. (Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics). doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199365012.001.0001
Perugini N. The Moral Economy of Settler Colonialism: Israel and the "Evacuation Trauma". History of the Present. 2014;4(1):49. doi: 10.5406/historypresent.4.1.0049
Perugini N, Hilal S, Petti A, Weizman E. The Lawless Line. London Review of International Law. 2013;1(1):201-209. doi: 10.1093/lril/lrt011
Perugini N, Sbriccoli T. Dai paesi di origine alle Corti italiane. Campi, diritto e narrazioni nella costruzione della soggettività dei rifugiati. AM Rivista della Società italiana di antropologia medica. 2012;33-24:95-128.
Perugini N, Weizman E, Hilal S, Petti A. Linea verde. Il limes senza legge. Limes. Rivista italiana di geopolitica. 2011;3:123-128.
Perugini N, Harb S, Gola A. The recovery of historical paths for tourism as tool for social and territorial development: The Palestinian case of Battir. Almatourism - Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development. 2010;57-63.
Perugini N. 'The frontier is where the Jews live': A case of Israeli 'Democratic Colonialism. Journal of Law and Social Research . 2010;1(1):73-90.
Perugini N. Anthropologists at War: Ethnographic intelligence and counter-insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. International Political Anthropology Journal. 2008;1(2):213-227.