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Nathan Madson

three quarter portrait of Nathan in dress shirt and sweater
Programs: International Justice

Nathan H. Madson (he/him/his; they/them/theirs) is a human rights advocate, educator, and interdisciplinary scholar. Their research addresses the work of LGBTQI+ activists in Hong Kong and their engagement with human rights discourses and law. He is particularly interested in the ways in which activists navigate and redefine the local and the transnational. Madson's doctoral research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Law & Social Sciences Program.

Madson also co-hosts the podcast Notes from the Field, in which he and co-host Dr. Sarah Riccardi-Swartz provide easily understood anthropological content to listeners outside of academia. They also serve as a visiting scholar at the University of Minnesota Law School Human Rights Center. Prior to graduate school, Madson co-founded an organization to provide free legal services to marginalized queer and trans people in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

Madson received his PhD in cultural anthropology from New York University in 2021. He received his JD magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2011 and his BA in international affairs summa cum laude from the George Washington University in 2008.


2022: Madson, Nathan H. I Am an Ordinary Citizen: Human rights discourse and the limits of human rights law. American Anthropologist 124(3): 504-514.

2022: Madson, Nathan H. Finding the “Humanity” in Human Rights: LGBT Activists and the Vernacularization of Human Rights in Hong Kong. Law & Social Inquiry 47(1): 1-24.

2021: Madson, Nathan H. Review of Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China, by Hongwei Bao. Asian Studies Review 45(1): 176-177.

2020: Madson, Nathan H. Language and Class Within the Hoenggong-Gwailou Divide in Hong Kong's LGBTI Activist Communities. In Keywords in Queer Sinophone Studies. Howard H. Chiang and Alvin K. Wong, eds. Pp. 184-203, London: Routledge.

2017: Wang, Chang and Nathan H. Madson. The Curious Case of Ai Weiwei. In Parallel Universes: Essays and Conversations. Chang Wang, ed. Pp. 127-160. Eagan, MN: Thomson Reuters. (Reprinted from Inside China's Legal System).

2017: Wang, Chang and Nathan H. Madson. China Legal Review (2012-2013). In Parallel Universes: Essays and Conversations. Chang Wang, ed. Pp. 211-219. Eagan, MN: Thomson Reuters.

2017: Wang, Chang and Nathan H. Madson. China Legal Review (2013-2014). In Parallel Universes: Essays and Conversations. Chang Wang, ed. Pp. 220-229. Eagan, MN: Thomson Reuters. (Co-authored with Chang Wang).

2013: Wang, Chang and Nathan H. Madson. Inside China's Legal System. Oxford: Chandos Publishing.

2013: Madson, Nathan H. and Jenny Odegard. Cause of Action: Using International Human Rights Law to Advance Gay Rights. National Lawyers Guild Review 70(2): 65-87.

2012: Madson, Nathan H. The Legacy of ACT UP's Policies and Actions from 1987-1994. National Lawyers Guild Review 69(1): 45-64.