Ascholar specialized on the intersection of law, history, and society, Mugambi Jouet became a law professor at the University of Southern California (USC) after teaching at Stanford and McGill. His book Exceptional America: What Divides Americans From the World and From Each Other was published by the University of California Press in 2017. He has especially explored the distinctive evolution of American criminal justice, government, and political culture. In 2022, he won the Brophy Prize for the article in the American Journal of Legal History that “most significantly breaks new ground and adds new insights to the study and understanding of United States legal history.”
His research has appeared in peer-reviewed academic journals or law reviews, such as the American Journal of Legal History, American Journal of Comparative Law, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Federal Sentencing Reporter, and Theoretical Criminology. His commentary has been featured in Slate, The New Republic, Boston Review, Mother Jones, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, The Hill, Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur magazine, and Le Monde, France’s flagship newspaper. He has been interviewed by the media many times, such as on C-SPAN’s Book TV, diverse National Public Radio shows, France 24 TV news programs, French national public radio, CBC, and Radio Canada. He has presented his research at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Cambridge Forum at Harvard Square, Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., and the L.A. Times book festival. He gave keynote lectures at the University of Pennsylvania’s Levin Family Dean’s Forum in 2018 and at the University of Toronto’s Center of Criminology & Sociolegal Studies in 2020, among multiple other academic lectures.
His book Exceptional America takes a comparative look at peculiar dimensions of American politics, culture, law, social issues, economics, religion, and criminal justice, from mass incarceration to the death penalty. At a time when the Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden presidencies have sharply divided the United States, it explains how and why Americans are far more polarized than other Westerners over their basic values and worldview. Alongside historical, political, legal, and sociological sources, Jouet’s book draws on his observations as a “global citizen” having lived in different regions of America, from the liberal North to the Southern Bible Belt and West Coast.
Raised in Paris by a French mother and Kenyan father, he attended university in the United States, studying law, public policy, and history. Before entering academia, he served for three years as a public defender representing indigent persons in Manhattan’s courtrooms, from homicide cases to the War on Drugs. Trilingual in English, French, and Spanish, he has traveled widely internationally and within America.
“A History of Post-Roe America and Canada: From Intertwined Abortion Battles to American Exceptionalism,” Michigan Journal of Gender & Law (forthcoming 2023-24).
“The Abolition and Retention of Life Without Parole in Europe: A Comparative and Historical Perspective,” European Convention on Human Rights Law Review (forthcoming 2023).
“Death Penalty Abolitionism From the Enlightenment to Modernity,” American Journal of Comparative Law (2023) (peer-reviewed).
“Guns, Mass Incarceration, and Bipartisan Reform: Beyond Vicious Circle and Social Polarization,” Arizona State Law Journal (forthcoming 2023).
“A Lost Chapter in Death Penalty History: Furman v. Georgia, Albert Camus, and the Normative Challenge to Capital Punishment,” 49 American Journal of Criminal Law 119 (2022).
“Foucault, Prison, and Human Rights: A Dialectic of Theory and Criminal Justice Reform,” 26 Theoretical Criminology 202 (2022) (peer-reviewed).
“The Day Canada Said No to the Death Penalty in the United States: Innocence, Dignity, and the Evolution of Abolitionism,” 55 UBC Law Review 439 (2022) (peer-reviewed).
“Revolutionary Criminal Punishments: Treason, Mercy, and the American Revolution,” 61 American Journal of Legal History 139 (2021) (peer-reviewed) (Winner of Brophy Prize).
“Juveniles Are Not So Different: The Punishment of Juveniles and Adults at the Crossroads,” 33 Federal Sentencing Reporter 278 (2021) (peer-reviewed).
“Mass Incarceration Paradigm Shift?: Convergence in an Age of Divergence,” 109 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 703 (2019).
“Guns, Identity, and Nationhood,” 5 Nature – Palgrave Communications 138 (2019) (peer-reviewed).
“The Exceptional Absence of Human Rights as a Principle in American Law,” 34 Pace Law Review 688 (2014).
“Judging Leaders Who Facilitate Crimes by a Foreign Army: International Courts Differ on a Novel Legal Issue,” 47 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 1091 (2014).
“The Failed Invigoration of Argentina’s Constitution: Presidential Omnipotence, Repression, Instability, and Lawlessness in Argentine History,” 39 Inter-American Law Review 409 (2008).
“Spain’s Expanded Universal Jurisdiction to Prosecute Human Rights Abuses in Latin America, China, and Beyond,” 35 Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law (2007).
“Reconciling the Conflicting Rights of Victims and Defendants at the International Criminal Court,” 26 St. Louis University Public Law Review 249 (2007).
Reading Camus in Time of Plague and Polarization, Boston Review, December 7, 2020.
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Ph.D. in Law, summa cum laude, 2019.
Northwestern University School of Law, Juris Doctor, cum laude, 2006.
New York University, Master in Public Policy, 2003.
Rice University, Bachelor of Arts in History, 2001.