Randall Amster

Randall "Randy" Jay Amster (born September 1, 1965) is an American author, activist, and educator in areas including peace, ecology, homelessness, and anarchism. He is the director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University, and writes for outlets ranging from academic journals to online news media.

Randall Amster
Randall Amster 2009.jpg
BornRandall Jay Amster[1]
(1965-09-01) September 1, 1965 (age 54)[2]
Brooklyn, New York
OccupationTeacher, writer
EducationUniversity of Rochester (BS)
Brooklyn Law School (JD)
Arizona State University (PhD)

Amster has worked as an attorney, judicial clerk, professor, and academic administrator during his professional career.

Early life and educationEdit

Randall Amster was born in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics & Astronomy from the University of Rochester in 1988. He then attended Brooklyn Law School, where he was a Law Review editor, and graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 1991. Following law school, Amster served as a law clerk to a Federal District Court Judge in Miami, Florida, and worked for a brief period as an Associate in a large law firm in Manhattan, New York. After a two-year stint traveling through North America, Amster enrolled in a doctoral program in Justice Studies at Arizona State University (ASU), from which he received his Ph.D. in 2002.


In 2001, Amster was hired to teach Peace Studies at Prescott College in Arizona, where he worked as a faculty member and program chair until June 2013.[3] In 2008, he began serving as the Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA),.[4] He is the editor of the association’s newsletter, The Peace Chronicle,[5] among other duties. Amster also serves on the editorial advisory boards for academic journals including the Contemporary Justice Review,[6] the Journal of Sustainability Education,[7] and the Asian Journal of Peacebuilding,[8] In August 2013, Amster became the director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University, where he presently teaches.[9]


During his time at Arizona State University, Amster was engaged in a number of well-reported and controversial activist endeavors. He led an effort to overturn an ordinance making it a criminal offense to sit on the local sidewalks, arguing the case before a Federal Judge and winning an injunction against enforcement of the law before it was overturned on appeal.[10] Amster organized "sit-in" demonstrations against the ordinance, which he argued was aimed primarily at the local homeless population. He also helped to spearhead a successful campaign to preserve one of the last remaining open spaces in downtown Tempe, AZ. These efforts resulted in a number of articles, editorials, and interviews about his work – including an extensive Phoenix New Times portrayal in 2000[11] and also formed the basis for his doctoral dissertation, which subsequently yielded two books on these themes of public space and nonviolence. He was featured in Jeff Ferrell's 2001 book Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy as a practitioner of nonviolent "anarchist direct action" in the effort to "reclaim public space" in downtown Tempe.[12] Amster received the Dondrell Swanson Advocate of Social Justice award in 2001 for the campaigns he was involved in during his graduate studies at ASU.

Amster, a critic of military adventurism and an interventionist foreign policy,[13] has been a vocal opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since their inception;[14] he was part of a local group engaging in civil disobedience when the Iraq War began in March 2003, resulting in a trial later that year during which he acted as lead attorney for the group as they invoked a "necessity defense" in light of their assertion of the war's illegality under international law.[15] He engaged in grassroots relief efforts in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, working with Food Not Bombs and local collectives in the region.[16] Amster has worked with the Catalyst Infoshop in Prescott, AZ, and was part of a group that supported founder Bill Rodgers during the course of his arrest, prosecution, and eventual death in jail in December 2005 on charges of ecoterrorist arson attacks.[17] From 2005 to 2007, he was part of a legal observer initiative on the U.S.-Mexico border that monitored the activities of the Minuteman Project.[18][19] In 2008, he received an award for Entertainment Program of the Year for hosting and producing a local television program on politics and culture, The Artist's Mind.[20]

Following the passage of Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070 in April 2010, Amster began to refocus his activism. He authored a series of articles on Arizona,[21] and helped spearhead an initiative that brought together more than a dozen academic and professional associations in issuing a joint statement condemning SB 1070 and related state policies.[22] After a federal judge blocked parts of SB 1070 from taking effect in July 2010, Amster's editorial on the ruling was excerpted by 'USA Today, where he argued that "there is a sense of vindication and relief on the part of many who have been working for justice in regard to immigration issues."[23] In the ensuing months, he continued to write on related topics.[24]

Writing and scholarshipEdit

Amster's writing covers a range of topics and themes. His work on homelessness and public spaces have resulted in two books, including Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly, 2008), which was called "a savvy look into local and global processes of neoliberalization, particularly as it transforms what it means to be a citizen" in a 2011 review appearing in Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography.[25] An earlier co-edited volume, with Pat Lauderdale, focusing on issues of injustice and inequality, was published in 1997. A later co-edited work, with Elavie Ndura, focused on the theme of "building cultures of peace," and was released by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2009. Amster was also part of the editorial collective that produced Contemporary Anarchist Studies, published by Routledge in 2009 and recipient of the Critics Choice Award that year for "recent scholarship deemed to be outstanding in its field" by the American Educational Studies Association.[26] The sole-authored book Anarchism Today was published by Praeger in 2012 and was described by the Philadelphia City Paper as "a much-needed contemporary read."[27]

Amster is also the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters on various subjects.[28] social movements, critical pedagogy, eco-terrorism, border issues, post-Katrina New Orleans, and Peace Ecology.[29] In addition, he is a frequent blogger and op-ed columnist, writing on similar themes in venues including online media such as The Huffington Post[30] Amster's work continues to focus on social and ecological issues.[31][32][33][34]

Amster launched an initiative in January 2011 called "New Clear Vision" (NCV), a website where Amster serves as a Contributing Editor, and includes Devon G. Pena, Jay Walljasper, Pat LaMarche, David Swanson, Diane Lefer, and Robert C. Koehler among its regular contributors.[35] The site's stated intention is "to advance a multiplicity of views on what people are standing for, rather than merely highlighting what they’re against," and seeks to foster "a constructive take on politics, ecology, economy, community, family, culture, and current events."[36]



  • Lauderdale, Pat; Amster, Randall (1997), Lives in the balance : Perspectives on global injustice and inequality, International studies in sociology and social anthropology, v. 66, Leiden, ISBN 978-90-04-10875-2, OCLC 36746461
  • Amster, Randall (2004), Street people and the contested realms of public space, Criminal justice (LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC), LFB Scholarly Pub, ISBN 978-1-59332-066-9
  • Amster, Randall (2008), Lost in space : The criminalization, globalization, and urban ecology of homelessness, LFB Scholarly Publishing, ISBN 978-1-59332-297-7, OCLC 221150739
  • Amster, Randall; et al. (2009), Contemporary anarchist studies : An introductory anthology of anarchy in the academy, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-203-89173-5, OCLC 239236182
  • Ndura-Ouédraogo, Elavie; Amster, Randall (2009), Building cultures of peace : Transdisciplinary voices of hope and action, Cambridge Scholars, ISBN 978-1-4438-1329-7, OCLC 435734902
  • Amster, Randall (2012), Anarchism today, Praeger, ISBN 978-0-313-39872-8, OCLC 745980493
  • Valado, Trenna; Amster, Randall (2012), Professional lives, personal struggles : Ethics and advocacy in research on homelessness, Lexington Books, ISBN 978-0-739-17428-9, OCLC 785874881
  • Amster, Randall; Ndura, Elavie (2013), Exploring the power of nonviolence : Peace, politics, and practice, Syracuse University Press, ISBN 978-0-815-63344-0, OCLC 872675972
  • Amster, Randall (2014), Peace ecology, Paradigm, ISBN 978-1-612-05297-7, OCLC 861068931

Academic articlesEdit



  1. ^ West's New York Supplement (1998), page 136
  2. ^ https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KJSP-BHV
  3. ^ "Faculty Profiles". Prescott College. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
  4. ^ "Peace and Justice Studies Association". peacejusticestudies.org. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  5. ^ "The Peace Chronicle". PJSA. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
  6. ^ "Contemporary Justice Review". tandf.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
  7. ^ "Journal of Sustainability Education". journalofsustainabilityeducation.org. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
  8. ^ "Asian Journal of Peacebuilding" (PDF). apisa.org. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  9. ^ "Faculty Profile". Georgetown University. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  10. ^ "248 F3d 1198 Randall Amster v. City of Tempe". Open Jurist. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  11. ^ "Phoenix News - Anarchy How? - page 1". Phoenix New Times. 11 May 2000. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  12. ^ Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy. Palgrave Macmillan Books, 2001. 2001-12-07. p. 51. ISBN 9780312233358. Retrieved 2010-01-20. randall amster.
  13. ^ "Looking for Mr. Goodwar?". 2011-04-06.
  14. ^ "The Daily Courier - Peace Pole embodies hopes of end to war". Dcourier.com. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
  15. ^ "The Daily Courier - War protesters' trial begins". Dcourier.com. 11 December 2003. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  16. ^ "Für die nötige Infrastruktur selbst gesorgt". neues-deutschland.de. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  17. ^ "The Daily Courier - Prosecutors: Peaceful persona hides arsonist". Dcourier.com. 17 December 2005. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  18. ^ "The Daily Courier - Prescott students keep wary eyes on the Minuteman Project". Dcourier.com. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  19. ^ "The Daily Courier - Local man spends time with Minutemen on the border". Dcourier.com. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  20. ^ "The Daily Courier - Cable producers take the spotlight at awards show". Dcourier.com. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
  21. ^ See: "The Arizona Connection: A Living History". facebook.com. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  22. ^ "PJSA Blog - Joint Statement Against SB 1070". peacejusticestudies.org. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  23. ^ "Arizona Judge Rules. What Next?". usatoday.com. July 29, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  24. ^ Amster, Randall (December 31, 2010). "Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies and, Along With It, Reason and Justice". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
  25. ^ Harmon, Abbilyn (2011). "Book Review, Lost in Space". Antipode. 43 (5): 1942–1946. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.2011.00933_2.x.
  26. ^ "American Educational Studies Association, 2009 Critics Choice Award". educationalstudies.org. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  27. ^ Philadelphia City Paper review.
  28. ^ "Chasing Rainbows? Utopian Pragmatics and the Search for Anarchist Communities". Anarchist Studies. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
  29. ^ "Building Cultures of Peace" (PDF). Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-20.; "Peace Ecology as a Pathway to Security". youtube.com. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  30. ^ "Author: Randall Amster". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  31. ^ "Anarchism & Nonviolence". Metta Center for Nonviolence Education. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  32. ^ "Water Symposium". Salsa.net. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
  33. ^ "Arizona Heats Up National Immigration Debate". indypendent.org. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
  34. ^ "The Invisible Tragedy of Homelessness". Borderzine.com. 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  35. ^ "NCV Contributors". newclearvision.com. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
  36. ^ "About NCV". newclearvision.com. Retrieved 2011-01-10.