September 9, 2020

In Memoriam: Sally Engle Merry

Sally Engle Merry, our beloved colleague, passed away on 8 September 2020. Sally was Julius Silver Professor of Anthropology at New York University. She taught courses on human rights, gender, and legal anthropology, and co-taught the IILJ Colloquium on Infrastructure, Rights and Regulation. She was one of the Principal Investigators in the IILJ project on Indicators, and in the new project on Infrastructure as Regulation.

A giant in the fields of legal anthropology, human rights, and gender violence, Sally’s passion for anthropology was born at Wellesley College, where she graduated in 1966 with high honors and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She went on to earn a Master of Arts degree from Yale University in 1967 and a doctorate from Brandeis University in 1978. She was awarded a Doctor of Law degree, honora causa, from McGill University in 2013. Sally was also a past president of the Law and Society Association, the American Ethnological Society, and the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology. In 2019, she was awarded the Franz Boas prize, the highest accolade bestowed by the American Anthropological Association. 

Sally was a brilliant and influential scholar, a committed and talented teacher, and a beloved colleague. She is survived by her husband Paul Merry, her son Joshua, her daughter Sarah, and her brother Robert. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the American Friends Service Committee and Appalachian Mountain Club.

The IILJ extends our deepest condolences to Sally’s family. We will miss Sally very much. She was a terrific person who brought warmth as well as brilliance wherever she went.

Sally Merry