Anjali Vats is an Associate Professor of Law, with a secondary appointment in Communication, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
She was previously Associate Professor of Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College, with a courtesy appointment at Boston College Law School, where she taught Critical Race Theory for four years. She also served as a Visiting Consultant with Microsoft Research New England’s Social Media Collective. In 2016-2017, as an AAUW Postdoctoral Fellow, she taught a course on race, intellectual property, and national identity 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. Prior to joining Boston College, she was 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 also co-edited a special issue with Mohan Dutta on race, coloniality, and free speech for First Amendment Studies. 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, law, and media to diverse audiences. Her collaborative work on the biennial Race + IP conference, now in its third iteration, has helped to bring together a global community of scholars who work at the intersections of race, coloniality, and intellectual properties. Vats is also interested in issues of race, gender, and disability justice. In 2020-2021, she co-organized a conference called Building the Fugitive Academy: Communication, Media, Culture, and Rhetoric Scholars for Transformation, which centered the work and narratives of scholars of color. She has collaborated with a number of social justice organizations, including most recently the Organic Seed Alliance in Port Townsend, WA and the Disability Law Center in Boston, MA. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Washington Debate Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting debate in public schools in the State of Washington. You can read more about some of that work 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.