Aparna Polavarapu



Geographical Expertise:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Professor Polavarapu has over 15 years of experience working in human rights and rule of law, both domestically and abroad. She has significant legal expertise in the field of legal pluralism, with a particular research focus on informal, non-state-centered justice systems and how they work together with formal, state-centered systems.

Professor Polavarapu’s research has covered a wide range of topics, including legal innovations used by courts to expand access to constitutional justice, the use of restorative justice mechanisms to combat domestic violence in Uganda, and how customary and statutory law interact to govern land rights in sub-Saharan Africa. Much of her scholarship draws from her direct experience working with women’s rights groups in sub-Saharan Africa and in the United States.

Beyond scholarship, Professor Polavarapu continues to work on domestic and global women’s rights and justice matters. She has instructed U.S. Government officials from various agencies on international rule of law topics, including African customary law, legal pluralism, and strategies for promoting justice and basic rights in legally pluralistic systems. In addition to her scholarship, she has authored expert reports on women’s rights for organizations such as the UN Foundation. Locally, she has testified before the South Carolina Senate on legislation affecting women, and she is currently working with the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault to educate its member organizations about the use of restorative justice to combat domestic violence.

Professor Polavarapu teaches courses in Comparative Law, Rule of Law, Transnational Law, and International Human Rights Law.

Prior to coming to South Carolina, Professor Polavarapu was a Teaching Fellow with Georgetown’s International Women’s Human Rights Clinic. Prior to that, she practiced law at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP in Boston. She received an LLM and JD from Georgetown University Law Center, a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a MA in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, at Tufts University.