Michael McCann is professor emeritus, and for 25 years was Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship, in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. He was the leading architect and advocate of the Law, Societies, and Justice program as well as the Comparative Law and Society Studies (CLASS) Center, both committed to study of social justice and human rights, at UW starting in the late 1990s; he served as director of both for a decade, until 2011. He also was an original member of the Steering Committee for the UW Center for Human Rights. Relatedly, McCann was a teacher and leader in the UW LSJ Rome Program in Comparative Legal Studies for most of two decades. More recently (2014-18), Michael served two terms as director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at UW, a center of publicly engaged intellectuals who address issues of working people around the world.
McCann’s research focuses on the politics of rights-based struggles for social justice, with an emphasis on challenges to race, gender, and class hierarchies at work. He also was an important figure in the interpretive turn toward scholarly analysis of legal discourse as a constitutive form of power. McCann is author of over seventy article-length publications and author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of eight books, including authoring Rights at Work: Pay Equity Reform and the Politics of Legal Mobilization (Chicago, 1994) and (with William Haltom) Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis (Chicago, 2004); both books have won multiple professional awards. His most recent book, with George Lovell, is titled Union by Law: Filipino American Labor Activists, Rights Radicalism, and Racial Capitalism (Chicago, 2020).
Michael was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008), a Law and Public Affairs Program Fellowship at Princeton (2011-12), and numerous NSF and other research grants; he was elected as president of the U.S based international Law and Society Association for 2011-13. Michael won a UW Distinguished Teaching Award (1989) and, in 2014, the Marsha Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award by the UW Graduate School as well as the Stanton Wheeler Mentorship Award from the Law & Society Association. Most recently, in 2023, he was winner of the Law & Society Association Harry J. Kalven Prize for “empirical scholarship that has contributed most effectively to the advancement of research in Law and Society.”