I am a sociologist whose interests span the sociology of knowledge, cultural globalization, sociological neo-institutionalism, and classic and contemporary social theory. Alongside these domains, I have a keen interest in the sociology of science and higher education.

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at The Leonard Davis Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Thanks for visiting my website to find out a little more about me.

Nir Rotem

About me

I wrote my doctoral dissertation in Sociology at the University of Minnesota, under the excellent supervision of Elizabeth Boyle and Joachim Savelsberg. The focus of my dissertation, titled Humanitarianism, Development, and Human Rights: The Boundaries of Social Fields in Today's World Society, is on the historical case of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Tracking flows of knowledge enables me to pinpoint changes in the humanitarian field and to recognize the infiltration of ideas from the fields of international development and human rights. To unpack this empirical case, I have introduced an integrative approach that brings into the conversation ideas from world society theory and Bourdieusian field theory. By investigating the unique historical tango between humanitarianism and human rights, I tackle the matter of differentiation and re-differentiation. My research contributes to globalization studies through a growing emphasis on the sites of encounter, the places where different global norms collide and readjust— an area of inquiry that the literature still largely neglects.

The next project I plan to undertake will call attention to the rising set of illiberal global norms. It is intended to determine if illiberalism is fed from local conditions, or rather, if it is diffused through the same global institutional environment that fuels liberalism. That is, I intend to examine the illiberal backlash from a cultural globalization perspective, which may spawn a deeper understanding of the mechanism behind the spread of these illiberal norms, as well as their potential scope (i.e., how far they reach).


In addition to my strong theoretical emphasis, I have rich experience with empirical research. My dissertation is based on archival work and some of my prior research was more ethnographic (published in Ethnos). I also have experience with survey-data and quantitative methods, including recent experimentation with machine learning algorithms.


I earned my master’s and bachelor’s degrees (both magna cum laude) in sociology and anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My thesis analyzed the case of ecotourism in Kyrgyzstan through what I termed glocal governance. I have participated in research at academic institutions in Israel and the United States (the Hebrew University, Haifa University, and the University of Minnesota) as well as non-academic settings in Israel (Henrietta Szold Institute, Jerusalem; Edith Wolfson Medical Center, Holon).


At the UNHCR archives, Geneva


nir.rotem [at] mail.huji.ac.il