Professor Fiona Shen-Bayh’s new book Undue Process: Persecution and Punishment in Autocratic Courts examines political justice and judicial repression in Africa, specifically focusing on how autocrats weaponize the judiciary to stay in control. Contrary to conventional wisdom that courts constrain arbitrary power, Professor Shen-Bayh argues that judicial processes can instead be used to legitimize dictatorship and dissuade dissent when power is contested. Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa since independence, she draws on fine-grained archival data on regime threats and state repression to explain why political trials are often political purges in disguise, providing legal cover for the persecution of regime rivals. Shen-Bayh's analysis reveals how courts can be used to repress political challengers, institutionalize punishment, and undermine the rule of law. Engaging and illuminating, Undue Process provides new theoretical insights into autocratic judiciaries and will interest political scientists and scholars studying authoritarian regimes, African politics, and political control.
Dr. Shen-Bayh is an Assistant Professor of Government and a faculty affiliate of the Global Research Institute and the Data Science program at William & Mary. She also co-directs the Digital Inclusion and Governance Lab, is a member of the executive team at the Africa Research Center, and a supervisor for undergraduate researchers in the Government Department. Her other work has been published in the American Political Science Review and World Politics and has been supported by the National Science Foundation. Outside of school, she enjoys swimming and ceramic arts. She is also a novice weaver and woodshop enthusiast.
The Department of Government congratulates Professor Shen-Bayh on her newest achievement and recommends the book to all audiences.