Anjali Vats is an Associate Professor of Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College. She is also an Associate Professor (by courtesy) at Boston College Law School, where she currently teaches Critical Race Theory. She serves as a Visiting Consultant with Microsoft Research New England’s Social Media Collective as well. In 2016-2017, as an AAUW Postdoctoral Fellow, she taught at UC Davis School of Law. Her interdisciplinary work draws on methods in critical race studies, critical legal studies, media studies, and rhetorical studies to theorize contemporary issues in race, coloniality, law, and popular culture. She is particularly interested in the intersections of race and intellectual property law. She was previously a faculty member in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University and Affiliate Faculty Member in the Center for Intellectual Property Research at the Maurer School of Law.
Vats holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Washington, a J.D. from Emory University School of Law, and an LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law and Policy from the University of Washington School of Law. From 2007 – 2009, she clerked for Chief Justice A. William Maupin of the Supreme Court of Nevada. She graduated with a B.A. in International Relations, with specializations in Western European Studies and Environmental Economics, and a B.S. in Psychology, both with Honors, from James Madison College at Michigan State University.
Vats’ first monograph, The Color of Creatorship: Intellectual Property, Race, and the Making of Americans, available from Stanford University Press, investigates the historical and contemporary relationships between copyright, trademark, and patent law and the articulation of (white) citizenship. Through the lens of racial scripts and legal histories, she traces the calcification of race in intellectual property doctrines. Vats has published articles in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Communication, Culture & Critique, the Howard Journal of Communications, Southern Communication Journal, and the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal. She is currently co-editing a special issue with Mohan Dutta on race, coloniality, and free speech for First Amendment Studies (forthcoming March 2021). Her next book project, Creating While Purple: Prince, Intellectual Property & Black Capitalism, examines how Prince Rogers Nelson’s shaped contemporary radical understandings of intellectual property and Black capitalism through his music activism.
Vats is interested in communicating ideas about race and intellectual properties to diverse audiences. Her collaborative work on the biennial Race + IP conference, now in its third iteration, has helped to build a community of scholars who work at the intersections of race, coloniality, and intellectual properties. Vats is also interested in issues of racial, gender, and disability justice. She is currently co-organizing a conference called Building the Fugitive Academy: Communication, Media, Culture, and Rhetoric Scholars for Transformation. She has collaborated with a number of social justice organizations, including most recently the Disability Law Center in Boston, MA. She also previously founded, managed, and served on the Board of Directors of the Washington Debate Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting debate in the State of Washington. You can read more about that and other work outside the academy under Public Scholarship.
Vats is eternally threatening to post about her culinary (mis)adventures and not so scholarly musings at her food blog, Quotable Potables. Some day she may actually get around to it.