R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies Professor of Law, Political Science & Global Affairs, and former Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Multiculturalism

Jackman Law Building
78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5

Tel.: 416-978-1620

Ayelet Shachar (FRSC) is Professor of Law, Political Science, and Global Affairs, and the holder of the R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies at the University of Toronto, where she directs the Harney Program at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.

Previously, she was a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society—one of the foremost research organizations in the world—and Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. She was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize in 2019. Before her recruitment to the Max Planck Society, she held the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Multiculturalism. At Goethe University Frankfurt she is affiliated with both the Faculty of Law and the Normative Orders Research Centre, where she is the leader of the "Transformations of Citizenship" research group. 

Shachar has published extensively on the topics of citizenship theory, immigration law, cultural diversity and women's rights, new border regimes, highly skilled migration and global inequality, and the marketization of citizenship. Her research is motivated by the need to develop new legal principles to address some of the most pressing issues of our time: how to live together in diverse societies, how to grant rights to those who lack formal access to membership, and how to tame the ever-expanding reach of borders and migration control in a world of persistent inequality.

Shachar is the author of Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women's Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2001 & 2009), for which she won the American Political Science Association 2002 Foundations of Political Theory Section Best First Book Award. This work has inspired a new generation of thinking about how to best mitigate the tensions between gender equality and religious diversity. It has also proved influential in the real world, intervening in actual public policy and legislative debates. It has been cited by, among others, England's Archbishop of Canterbury (who described Shachar's work as "highly original and significant"), Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Supreme Court of Canada. Over the last twenty years, Multicultural Jurisdictions has become a key reference point for feminist approaches to the study of law and religion.

Shachar's work combines "big ideas" from law and political theory with innovative problem-solving and institutional design. The Birthright Lottery: Citizenship and Global Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2009) was named 2010 International Ethics Notable Book in recognition of its "superior scholarship and contribution to the field of international ethics." It has created a groundswell of interest among policymakers and academics alike. Located at the intersection of law, economics, and political philosophy, The Birthright Lottery crafts new legal concepts and innovative institutional designs to promote global justice, with the aim of ameliorating the most glaring opportunity inequalities that attach to this system of allocation in today's world. This work has been the topic of special-issue symposiums, international workshops and roundtables, and the subject of essays that have appeared in professional and interdisciplinary publications, including the American Journal of Comparative Law, Ethics & International Affairs, Harvard Law ReviewIssues in Legal Scholarship, La Revue NouvellePolitical Theory, Rorotoko, Nexus, Edge, Tikkun, and the Literary Review of Canada.  

Shachar is also the lead editor of the field-defining The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2017 & 2020). This work has already emerged as a major reference work in the field for those engaged with citizenship from a philosophical, political, legal and cultural perspective. It has been described by Joseph Weiler as: “The definitive source on a critical concept in political and social life. Innovative in its conception and authoritative in its excitation.” Pratap Mehta observes that “[n]o other single volume achieves the theoretical acuity, historical depth, legal grounding, and sociological analysis of citizenship that this book manages to achieve. It is clear, wide ranging, and admirably un-parochial in the range of its references.”

Shachar newest book, The Shifting Border: Legal Cartographies of Migration and Mobility (Critical Powers Series, Manchester University Press, 2020; shortlisted for the 2022 C.B. Macpherson Prize), critically examines the role of territory and new measures of managed migration control in selectively restricting - or, conversely, accelerating - mobility and access to the world’s prosperous countries, as governments seek to regain control over a crucial realm of their allegedly waning sovereign authority. Here, as in her previous writings, Shachar not only reveals the deep currents that are reshaping the terrain of law and mobility, but also seeks to develop innovative legal responses to break the current deadlock as she seeks to refute the claim that applicable solutions are beyond reach or impossible to imagine. This work appears under the auspices of the Critical Powers Series, which is “dedicated to constructing dialogues around innovative and original work in social and political theory”.

The Shifting Border has been described by Hiroshi Motomura as “a remarkable book. Essential for understanding government responses to people on the move, Shachar’s vivid description, analytical precision, and reasoned persuasion combine to challenge conventional wisdom about ‘borders’ and how they work. The result: exceptional insights into how migration control can be more just. The Shifting Border offers an indispensable roadmap to immigration and refugee debates all around the world". A recent LSE book review opines: "In her impressive book, The Shifting Border, Ayelet Shachar refuses to adhere to what she views as false dichotomies between traditional approaches to a concept (culture, citizenship, borders) and premature diagnoses of the concept’s demise. The force of her argument is consistently oriented towards rethinking the question, offering a new framework to understanding the world. … Shachar’s innovative framework nicely exemplifies the shift from idealized ethical debates to institutional and political analysis." 

"Reading this essay by Shachar...is like getting the dream dinner invitation to hear cutting-edge thought on borders" (CHOICE magazine).  

Shachar is a global citizen at heart and the recipient of research excellence awards in four different countries (Canada, Israel, Germany, and the United States). She has presented her work across the world and held visiting professorships in leading universities, including the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Stanford Law School and the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. 

She was also a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Fulbright Fellow, Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Princeton’s Law and Public Affairs Program (LAPA), Emile Noël Senior Fellow at NYU School of Law, Visiting Scholar at Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, and the W. M. Keck Fellow in Legal Ethics and Professional Culture at Yale Law School. In recognition of her excellence in research and teaching as a faculty member at Toronto, she has received the University's Provostial Merit Increase Award for five consecutive years. Her work has appeared in leading law reviews, social science, and political philosophy journals, including the Yale Law JournalJournal of Political Philosophy, Ethics & International AffairsNYU Law Review, University of Chicago Law ReviewYale Journal of Law & the Humanities, Philosophy and Social Criticism, JurisprudencePolitical Theory, Perspectives on Politics, and Theoretical Inquiries in Law

Beyond contributing to key scholarly debates, she has provided pro-bono consultation to judges, non-governmental organizations, the European Parliamentary Research Services, and the World Bank. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Association of Members of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; the Advisory Board of the Boundaries, Membership & Belonging program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR); and the Advisory Board of the Max Planck-Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economics, and Social Change at the University of Cambridge. 

Shachar earned her LL.B in law and B.A. in political science, summa cum laude, from Tel Aviv University; LL.M. and J.S.D, both from Yale Law School. Before arriving at Yale, she was law clerk to Chief Justice Aharon Barak of the Supreme Court of Israel. She sits on the editorial boards of major peer-reviewed journals and book series in her field, and has delivered countless talks on her research in a range of academic, policy, and popular venues across the globe. 

In 2014, she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2015, she became Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. In 2017, she was elected member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities (past famous members include the Brothers Grimm and Gauss the mathematician). In 2019, she was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Germany's most prestigious research award, for her groundbreaking work on citizenship and the legal frameworks of accommodation in multicultural societies. In 2021, she was appointed the R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration, and Pluralism Studies

Video: Shachar's academic profile, prepared on the occasion of her selection to the Leibniz Prize.

Video: Author interview and lecture, "The Shifting Border in the Time of Covid-19

 Podcast: "Rights at the Border" | Entitled, University of Chicago Law School 

J.S.D. (Doctor of the Science of Law) Yale Law School (1997)
LL.M. (Master of Laws) Yale Law School (1995)
B.A. (Political Science) - Tel Aviv University (1993)
LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) Tel Aviv University (1993)
Academic appointments
* R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies (2021-present)
* Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University, Visiting Scholar (2020)
* Director, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious & Ethnic Diversity (2015-2020)
* Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Multiculturalism (2007-2015)
* University of Toronto, Professor of Law, Political Science & Global Affairs (2007-present)
* Harvard Law School, Jeremiah Smith Jr. Visiting Professor of Law (2007-2008)
* Stanford Law School, Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights (2006-2007)
* University of Toronto, Connaught Research Fellow in the Social Sciences (2005)
* Princeton University, Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA), Distinguished Visiting Scholar (2003)
* NYU School of Law, Emile Noël Senior Fellow (2003)
* Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Member (2000-2001)
* Yale Law School, W.M. Keck Foundation Fellow in Legal Ethics (1997-1998)
* Yale Law School, Tutor-in-Law (1996-1998)
Awards and distinctions
* Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) CB Macpherson Prize Finalist (2022)
* Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize (2019) awarded to "exceptional scientists and academics for their outstanding achievements in the field of research"
* Member, Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities (2017)
* Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) (2014)
* American Political Science Association (APSA) Migration and Citizenship Best Chapter Award (2013) for "Citizenship" in the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law
* International Studies Association (ISA), International Ethics Book Award (2010) Notable Book Distinction; The Birthright Lottery: Citizenship and Global Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2009)
* American Political Science Association (APSA), Foundations of Political Theory Section (2002) Winner of the Best First Book Award for Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women’s Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2001)
* Canadian Association of Law Teachers (CALT) Scholarly Paper Award (2001) Honorable Mention; “The Puzzle of Interlocking Power Hierarchies: Sharing the Pieces of Jurisdictional Authority,” Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (2001)
* J.S.D. Tory Writing Award (2007) for "Reshaping the Multicultural Model: Group Accommodation and Individual Rights," Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues
* Una Weiler Excellence Award (1994) for “The Sexuality of Law: The Legal Discourse of Rape,” Tel Aviv University Law Review [Hebrew]
Other service
* World Bank, Expert Consultative Group (ECG), Pro-Bono Advisor (2011-present)
* European Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS), Pro-Bono Advisor (2018)
* Oxford Studies in Migration and Citizenship (advisory board, 2020-present)
* Journal of Politics (editorial board, 2015-2018)
* Citizenship Studies (editorial board, 2010-2013)
* Diversities (MPI/UNESCO editorial board, 2010-present)
* University of Toronto Law Journal (editorial board, 2009-2016)
* Law & Ethics of Human Rights (editorial board, 2009-present)
* Ethnicities (editorial board, 2008-present)
* Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) National Selection Committee (2008-2009)
Selected publications

Lawless Zones, Rightless Subjects: Migration, Asylum and Shifting Border 
(Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2024)

The Shifting Border: Legal Cartographies of Migration and Mobility  
(Critical Powers Series, Manchester University Press, 2020)

The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2017)

The Birthright Lottery: Citizenship and Global Inequality
(Harvard University Press, 2009)

Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women’s Rights
(Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Instruments of Evasion:
The Global Dispersion of Rights-Restricting Migration Policies
110 California Law Review (2022), 967-1009

Unequal Access: Wealth as Barrier and Accelerator to Citizenship
25 Citizenship Studies (2021), 543-563

Beyond Open and Closed Borders: The Grand Transformation of Citizenship
11 Jurisprudence (2020), 1-27

The Marketization of Citizenship in an Age of Restrictionism
32 Ethics & International Affairs (2018), 3-13

Golden Visas, Dreams & Ethics in Immigration 
Carnegie Council podcast interview with Ayelet Shachar

On Citizenship, States, and Markets (with Ran Hirschl)
22 Journal of Political Philosophy (2014), 231-257

Entangled: Family, Religion and Human Rights   
Human Rights: The Hard Questions
Edited by Cindy Holder and David Reidy
(Cambridge University Press, 2013), 115-135

Demystifying Culture
10 I-CON International Journal of Constitutional Law (2012), 429-448

Picking Winners: Olympic Citizenship and the Global Race for Talent
120 Yale Law Journal 2088 (2011)      

Earned Citizenship: Property Lessons for Immigration Reform
23 Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities (2011), 110-158

Privatizing Diversity: A Cautionary Tale from Religious Arbitration in Family Law
9 Theoretical Inquiries in Law 573 (2008)

Research areas
Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law
Immigration and Citizenship Law
Law and Globalization
Law and Religion
Legal Ethics
Legal Theory
Political Philosophy and Theory