In presenting the award, the committee stated:
Prof. Goluboff’s book, The Lost Promise of Civil Rights, inaugurates a new generation of studies in civil rights history. Bringing together labor history and civil rights history, it provides a new historical context for interpreting the Constitutional law of civil rights. Its retrieval of the possibility of constructing economic rights as civil rights, and its explanation of that position in the legal terms available in the 1940s, is especially illuminating. Its examination of lawyering opens many possibilities for new research in the history of civil rights by historically questioning the meaning of the concept itself and linking it in fundamental ways to a “practice” of civil rights law beyond the conventional parameters. Its conceptualization will have lasting impact by pointing the way to understand the complexity of the civil rights movement as it relates to other minority groups that were pushing the terms into social and economic action.This Hurst prize is for the best work in sociolegal history published in the previous calendar year. Now annual, the prize was biennial from inception in 1982 through 2002. In the spirit of Willard Hurst's own work, the field of sociolegal history is broadly defined to include the history of interrelationships between law and social, economic, and political change; the history of functions and impact of legal agencies, legislative and administrative as well as judicial; the social history of the legal profession; and similar topics. The Association seeks studies in legal history that explore the relationship between law and society or which illuminate the use, functions, and cultural meaning of law in society. Preference is normally given to books, but articles and monographs of exceptional quality may also be submitted. The Association discourages submissions of purely doctrinal studies in the evolution of appellate case law. Textbooks, case books and edited collections are not eligible for the prize.
Prof. Lewis’s book, The Boundaries of the Republic: Migrant Rights and the Limits of Universalism in France, 1918 1940, is a major contribution to the robust and growing field of sociolegal studies beyond the American context. Its many strengths provide conceptual models for future scholars. It eminently fulfills the goals of sociolegal scholarship promoted by the Prize in its integration of formal policy with everyday legal experience, especially by testing the application of policy in two different French cities. Its richly researched archival materials offer a framework that is both locally focused and comparative, moving beyond studies of one place or one immigrant group. By examining governance from the bottom up, it also demonstrates that the state is not monolithic but operates on several different registers simultaneously.