Kevin B. Sobel-Read

Senior Lecturing Fellow


In addition to his role at Duke Law, Dr. Kevin Sobel-Read is also a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. His research is on global supply chains in the form of global value chains, linking a focus on transnational corporations, contracts, and cross-border capital flow with overlapping questions of sovereignty and globalization.

Sobel-Read's current writing integrates into legal scholarship many of the important multidisciplinary contributions made by global value chain scholars. In particular, he focuses on four key insights of the global value chain literature that are essential for advancing current legal scholarship: (1) the systemic nature of global supply chains; (2) the central importance of the linkages between firms in the chain; (3) the significance of the "global" in global value chains; and (4) the consequences of newly unfolding trends: on the one hand, the two-part consolidation of global value chains, and on the other, novel forms of contracting within them.

Sobel-Read's research and academic writing are likewise informed by his experience as a corporate litigator, including representation of some of the largest corporations in the world in matters expressly affecting, and directly impacted by, international commerce.

Sobel-Read's work in this area also builds on his doctoral research in and around Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, and the small nation-state of the Cook Islands, as well as on preliminary research among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. His resulting dissertation describes several significant contributions that stem from this research. Specifically, given the economic interdependence of all contemporary nation-states, ideas of so-called "sovereignty" and "globalization" are not separate concepts but are in fact mutually constitutive phenomena. Each therefore cannot be properly understood without the other. In this light his dissertation provides a model of sovereignty that illustrates how contemporary nation-state sovereignty is made up of two components, one that is an interface mechanism, largely identical across all states, and the other that is subjective and thus unique to each group. He simultaneously offers a model of globalization that goes beyond the simple movement of people, goods, capital, and ideas to explain the conceptual transformations that have made today's globalization possible, the processes that drive it, and the role of the nation-state as a necessary component of globalization itself.