William Paul Simmons

Director, Human Rights Practice Program
Executive Committee Member

William Paul Simmons, Ph.D., is a Professor of Gender & Women's Studies and Director of the online Human Rights Practice Program at the University of Arizona. His research is highly interdisciplinary; using theoretical, legal, and empirical approaches to advance human rights for marginalized populations around the globe. His books include Joyful Human Rights (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), Human Rights Law and the Marginalized Other (Cambridge UP, 2011), An-archy and Justice: An Introduction to Emmanuel Levinas’ Political Thought (Lexington, 2003).  He has conducted ethnographic research on sexual violence against migrant women and children and published articles and a book chapter exploring legal remedies for the feminicides in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.  His articles have appeared in such journals as; Perspectives on Politics, DuBois Review, Journal of Human Rights, International Journal of Feminist Politics, International Migration Review, Violence Against Women, Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal, The Journal of International Human Rights, Social Science Quarterly, and Philosophy and Social Criticism. He has served as a consultant on human rights and social justice issues in The Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, Bangladesh, China, Mexico, and the United States.  

Selected Publications


  • Joyful Human Rights (2019, U of Penn Press)
  • Human Rights Law and the Marginalized Other (2011, Cambridge UP)
  • Co-Editor, Binational Human Rights: The U.S.-Mexico Experience (2014, U of Penn Press)


  • “Critical Ethnography and Human Rights Research” Research Methods in Human Rights, edited by Rhona Smith and Lee McConnell, Routledge. (ISBN: 1-138-94323-0) With Lindsey Feldman.  2018 

  • “The Human Right to Dignity and Commodification of Prisoners: Considering Worldwide Challenges to Prison Privatization.” In Privatization, Vulnerability, and Social Responsibility, edited by Martha Fineman, Ulrika Andersson and Titti Mattsson. Routledge (ISBN: 1472489071). With Leonard Hammer. 2017.

  • "Reproductive Justice and Resistance at the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands” in Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundation, Theory, Practice, Critique (ISBN: 9781558614376), edited by Loretta Ross, et al. with Anna Ochoa O’Leary. 2017.

  • Simmons, W. P. (2014). Binational Human Rights Violations, Structural Violence, and Pessimism. In Binational Human Rights: The U.S. - Mexico Experience(p. 12). Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Simmons, W. P., & Casper, M. J. (2014). Calculated Losses: Measuring Infant Mortality, Discounting Women’s Lives. In Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics(p. 25). Demeter Press.
  • Simmons, W. P., & Mueller, C. (2014). Introduction. In Binational Human Rights: The U.S. - Mexico Experience(p. 24). Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Simmons, W. P., & Tellez, M. (2014). Sexual Violence against Migrant Women and Children in Arizona. In Binational Human Rights: The U.S. - Mexico Experience(p. 30). Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Simmons, W. P. (2012). Making the Teaching of Social Justice Matter. In Real Social Science(p. 19). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Journals Articles

  • “The Gendered Effects of Local Immigration Enforcement: Latinas’ Social Isolation in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix” International Migration Review. 2020. With Cecilia Menjívar and Elizabeth Salerno Valdez.

  • "Problem-Based Learning beyond Borders: Impact and Potential for University-Level Human Rights Education” in Journal of Human Rights 18 (3): 280-292.

  • “Border Crossings and the Legacy of Sexual Conquest in the Age of Neoliberalism in the Sonoran Desert” In International Journal of Feminist Politics. 20 (3):1-18. With Michelle Téllez and Mariana del Hierro.

  • “Immigration Enforcement, the Racialization of Legal Status, and Perceptions of the Police: Latinos in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Phoenix in Comparative Perspective” DuBois Review 15 (1): 107-128. With Cecilia Menjívar, Daniel Alvord, and Elizabeth Salerno Valdez.

  • Simmons, W. P., & Hammer, L. M. (2015). Privatization of Prisons and Immigration Detention Facilities in Arizona: A Per Se Violation of Human Rights?. Santa Clara Journal of International Law, 40.
  • Simmons, W. P., Menjivar, C., & Tellez, M. (2015). Violence and Vulnerability of Migrants in Drop Houses in Arizona: The Predictable Outcome of a Chain Reaction of Violence. Violence against Women, 23.
  • Simmons, W. P., & Casper, M. J. (2012). Culpability, Social Triage, and Structural Violence in the Aftermath of Katrina. Perspectives on Politics, 10(3), 12.