Interweaving his concerns as a legal scholar with his training in cultural anthropology, Mateo Taussig-Rubbo has focused on a set of legal and theoretical challenges posed by changes in the nature of state sovereignty in an era of privatization and globalization. In two geographical areas, Taussig-Rubbo considers these changes by examining both institutional forms (law and policy) and moral, ethical, and social values.
In his United States-focused work, especially in his work on the military, Taussig-Rubbo has examined what happens when the logic of market exchange collides with sectors of our society organized around such ideas as service, honor, and sacrifice. In more recent work in East Africa, he examines the way that sovereignty is defined through relationships with external actors.
His overarching goal has been to develop a theoretically innovative and empirically grounded understanding of how the central institutional forms through which we understand our collective life—the state, the market, law, religion—compete and interact in our current global moment. These institutional structures are globally distributed, but they take distinct local forms. Thus he has pursued interests at centers of power, especially the U.S.; in postcolonial settings; and in the interaction between these sites.