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Summer Series: Bernadette Atuahene, Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology

  • When: August 22, 2018, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th floor, Lakeside, Chicago, IL 60611

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Stategraft: Property Tax Injustice in Detroit Brings to Light a Pernicious Form of Corruption

Understanding Stategraft and Its Value 

Reading materials can be found here: 

When introducing a new term, it is important to clearly define it so that authors seeking to carry the conversation forward will understand the term’s expansiveness and limits as they apply it in different contexts.  Stategraft is when state agents transfer property from persons to the state in violation of the state's own laws.  Therefore, chapter 1 will explain the constitutive parts of the definition: A) Who qualifies as a state agent; B) What qualifies as a transfer of property to persons; C) When does the state benefit; and D) How does one determine if the state has violated its own laws. The goal is to provide the theoretical scaffolding for the concept so that, over the years, other scholars interested in investigating this special form of corruption can build upon it. Chapter 1 also explains the three primary reasons why stategraft is a valuable theoretical construct: it spotlights an overlooked yet pervasive component of liberal democracies; it is an enduring threat to democracy; and it can present a unique set of opportunities for social movements.

Bernadette Atuahene is a professor of law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, and a research professor at the American Bar Foundation.  She earned her J.D. at Yale Law School in 2002, her M.P.A. at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2002, and earned her B.A. in 1997 (magna cum laude) from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Professor Atuahene has varied experiences in the field of law and international development. During law school, she worked as a legal consultant for the World Bank and as a human rights investigator for the Center for Economic and Social Rights, where she received Amnesty International's Patrick Stewart Human Rights Award for her work with human rights organizations throughout South America. Broadly, Professor Atuahene's research deals with the confiscation and restitution of property.

After law school, Professor Atuahene was in South Africa as a Fulbright Scholar. She served as a judicial clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, working for Justices Madala and Ngcobo. She then practiced as an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York, where she focused on sovereign debt and real estate transactions.

Professor Atuahene joined the IIT Chicago-Kent faculty in 2005. She teaches Law, Policy and International Development; Property; and International Business Transactions. She was previously a faculty fellow at the American Bar Foundation (2007-2016).

In 2008 she won the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship and worked with the South African Director General of Land Affairs and his staff. Her most recent book, We Want What's Ours: Learning from South Africa's Land Restitution Program, is based on 150 interviews she conducted of program beneficiaries. She also directed and produced a documentary film about one South African family's struggle to reclaim their land. Professor Atuahene won the Law and Public Affairs Fellowship and was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Princeton University for the 2011–12 academic year. Most recently, she won a National Science Foundation Grant for her new book project about squatters in Detroit.

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