Lauren Coyle Rosen is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. She trained as a cultural anthropologist and as a lawyer. She received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago (2014) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (2008). Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersections of legal and political anthropology, comparative spirituality, critical theory, moral economy, epistemology, ethics, subjectivity, psychoanalysis, and symbolic power. Her geographical focus is on Ghana and, more broadly, on Africa and the diaspora, as well as the U.S.
Professor Coyle Rosen is a faculty affiliate at the Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA) at Princeton. She is also an external faculty member at the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago. Prior to assuming her professorship at Princeton, she was a fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. Before this, she was a postdoctoral lecturer on law and social studies at Harvard, as well as a research fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute in the Hutchins Center at Harvard.
Coyle Rosen has a forthcoming book titled Fires of Gold: Law, Spirit, and Sacrificial Labor in Ghana, an ethnography of the often hidden violence, vital spiritual forces, new cultures of casual labor, novel political forms, and transformations in law and sovereign power in the penumbra of Ghana's gold mining -- a signal governmental dilemma and "poisoned chalice" for contemporary Africa. This book will appear in Spring 2020 with the University of California Press, as part of its series, “Atelier: Ethnographic Inquiry in the Twenty-First Century." Searing social turmoil, fraught legal regimes, spiritual and environmental disruption, and novel political formations counterintuitively beset the most lucrative industry in one of the continent's most celebrated constitutional democracies. Fires of Gold reveals how cultural beliefs and social practices that so many scholars are wont to disregard as outmoded – or, at least, as ancillary or superfluous dimensions of more universal political, economic, and legal ways and means – are, in fact, critical sites of labor, subjectivity, and social regeneration. Understanding these beliefs and practices is not only crucial for apprehending the workings of global extractive regimes. It also is essential to making sense of the worlds being refashioned by capitalism and its distinctive forms of law, politics, and governance in the twenty-first century. The crucible of gold, itself governed by spirits, furnishes a critical site for powerful embodied struggles over the realignment of the classical philosophical triage: the city, the soul, and the sacred.
Coyle Rosen is also at work on a second book titled Law in Light: Truth, Vision, and Transnational African Spirituality, an ethnography of the recent revitalization of Akan sacred culture in Ghana and the US. In tracing the recent transnational proliferation of Akan priestesses and priests, particularly among Americans, the book examines comparative questions regarding the experiential and philosophical dimensions of ritual subjectivity, revelation, and veracity within various states of consciousness. Coyle Rosen's recent work has appeared (as Lauren Coyle) in journals such as Telos and Transition, as well as in an edited volume, Corporate Social Responsibility? Human Rights in the New Global Economy (University of Chicago Press; Charlotte Walker-Said and John Kelly, eds.). Her most recent essay, "Fallen Chiefs and Sacrificial Mining in Ghana," appeared in The Politics of Custom: Chiefship, Capital, and the State in Contemporary Africa (University of Chicago Press; John Comaroff and Jean Comaroff, eds.).
Coyle Rosen's research has been supported by awards and fellowships from several sources, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Social Science Research Council, American Council of Learned Societies, American Philosophical Society, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Lincoln Institute, Some Institutes for Advanced Study (SIAS), Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law, and Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard. Through Princeton, Coyle Rosen's resarch has been supported by grants from the University Center for Human Values, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Program in African Studies, and the University Committee on Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
In 2018, Coyle Rosen was awarded a David A. Gardner '69 Magic Innovation Grant through the Humanities Council at Princeton. This will support an assemblage of events under the title "The Powers of African Spirituality in Global Consciousness: Light, Vision, Truth" for academic year 2019-2020. In 2016, she was awarded a 250th Anniversary Fund Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education at Princeton.
She currently sits on the executive committee of the Program in African Studies at Princeton and serves as Departmental Representative (for undergraduate studies) for Anthropology. She was previously a Faculty Fellow for the Fung Global Fellows Program at Princeton.