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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Randle DeFalco

Our first Fall 2021 Faculty Spotlight is professor Randle DeFalco, who is currently a law professor at William S. Richardson School of Law. His works focus on various issues of law, atrocities, violence, and justice in post-Khmer-Rouge Cambodia and Myanmar. 

I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. I moved to Newark, New Jersey to attend the New Jersey Institute of Technology on a basketball scholarship, where I majored in history. I then did my JD at Rutgers Law School and later on, my masters and doctorate in law at the University of Toronto. I joined UHM in January, 2021. 

My research and teaching focuses primarily on criminal law, international criminal law, and transitional justice. I am particularly interested in examining the processes through which certain forms of mass violence and oppression are recognized as potential atrocity crimes, while others are not. This interest stems from a desire to shed light on overlooked forms of atrocity commission. I became interested in these topics while interacting with survivors of the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia, as a Fulbright Fellow and Legal Advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia. Survivors I interacted with typically did not distinguish between everyday forms of oppression (famine, restrictions on movement, overwork, etc.) and more “typical” forms of mass violence (beatings, imprisonment, etc.). Nonetheless, the Tribunal tasked with prosecuting former Khmer Rouge leaders focused primarily on familiar forms of atrocity violence.

Much of my research examines the relationship between international criminal justice and unfamiliar forms of potential atrocity commission. I also continue to look at various issues of law and justice in post-atrocity Cambodia. My current research focuses on the selective recognition of potential forms of atrocity violence. Much of this project focuses on Cambodia, and to a lesser extent, Myanmar as case studies.

I recently published an article in the International Criminal Law Review entitled “Time and the Visibility of Slow Atrocity Violence” discussing time and the recognition of different forms of atrocity violence, using Myanmar and Cambodia as case studies. I also have an article forthcoming in the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal with Savina Sirik of Gothenburg University in Sweden that explores Khmer Rouge era atrocities in Cambodia have been narrated over time and how, through such narration, slow and attritive “everyday” forms of atrocity violence have been alternately rendered visible or invisible. 

Finally, my current book project, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in 2022 and entitled “Invisible Atrocities: The Aesthetic Biases of International Criminal Justice” assesses the role aesthetic factors play in shaping what forms of mass violence are view as potential international crimes. (see my recent Tweet with a snapshot of the book overview here. Once again, Cambodia is a primary case study in the book. I have also written on the human rights implications of the Cambodian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for Just Security.

I previously served as a court monitor at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor and authored a multi-part radio program on famine and international criminal justice translated into Khmer and broadcast throughout Cambodia by the Documentation Center of Cambodia.