Dr. Vasanthi Venkatesh

Associate Professor- Law, Land, and Local Economies

Dr. Vasanthi Venkatesh is Associate Professor in Law, Land, and Local Economies at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law. Professor Vasanthi Venkatesh’s research focuses on labour migration, immigration and citizenship law, law and social movements, racialisation and discrimination, and comparative law. Her expertise lies in the interdisciplinary study of law within its political, economic, global, and historical contexts. It is informed by critical class, race, and anti-colonial scholarship and uses empirical (qualitative and quantitative), comparative, and historical methods. Her research examines how power and privilege is produced in legal doctrines and systems and also how macro-level transnational phenomena (geopolitics, world economy, migration, neocolonialism) impact material realities at the community level; and importantly, how community-level acts of resistance can help to reimagine novel legal and political formations. She has received several grants for her research including from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Law Foundation of Ontario, and the US National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Professor Venkatesh has a PhD from the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at University of Berkeley, where her dissertation used a comparative socio-legal approach to theorize how law is made and used by migrant workers and their advocates in several countries. She also holds a JD from the University of Toronto, an MA in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and has an MS and a BS degree. She has written articles on migrant and racial justice movements, labour migration, gender violence and global law reform, coloniality of power and the Global South (including on citizenship laws in South Asia and the Dalit Radical Tradition) and legal epistemologies "from below". 

With Justicia for Migrant Workers in Ontario, she administers the Migrant Farmworkers Clinic funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, the first legal clinic for migrant farm workers in Canada, which is based on law and organising principles. She was appointed as a member of the Leadership Committee on Equitable Livelihoods in the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) 2021 based on her expertise in migrant and labour rights of food system workers. She is the Chair of the Board of Directors of IAVGO, a workers compensation legal clinic that is oraganised as a collective.

Prior to pursuing her PhD, Vasanthi ran a sole legal practice and consultancy in Toronto specializing in refugee rights litigation with a focus on women and LGBTQ+ claimants and has also worked in a litigation firm. In addition, she has worked and continues to work with a variety of activist, grassroots, and human rights organizations globally and in Canada including the Justicia for Migrant Workers in Ontario, African-Canadian Women's Human Rights Project, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Occupational Health and Safety Centre in India, People Against Torture in Kenya, and Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions in Thailand.