Thursday, November 13, 2014

Surrency Prize to Fraser & Caestecker, "Jews or Germans? Nationality Legislation and the Restoration of Liberal Democracy in Western Europe after the Holocaust"

Continuing our announcements of the winners of the ASLH's annual prizes and awards, this year's Surrency Prize went to David Fraser (University of Knottingham) and Frank Caestecker (Ghent University) for “Jews or Germans? Nationality Legislation and the Restoration of Liberal Democracy in Western Europe after the Holocaust,” which appeared in Volume 31 of the Law and History Review (2013).

About the award:
The Surrency Prize, named in honor of Erwin C. Surrency, a founding member and first president of the Society and for many years the editor of its former publication, the American Journal of Legal History, is awarded annually for the best article published in the Society’s journal, the Law and History Review, in the previous year.
Via H-Law, we have the official citation: 
Drawing upon archives in Belgium, Britain, France, and Germany, the authors unite legal and policy analysis focused on the continuing problem of statelessness with an emergent and vital historiography that examines how Jews, especially German Jews, rebuilt their lives in Europe after 1945 to explore the conundrum first noted by Hannah Arendt, that statelessness can be “strangely empowering.”  Occupation forces in Germany and the restored government in liberated Belgium grappled with conundrums such as legal frameworks that rendered German Jews, who had been deprived of German citizenship by the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 and fled to Belgium nonetheless “enemy nationals” as German citizens after National Socialist laws had been revoked as “contrary to law,” (Unrecht).  Fraser and Caestecker’s essay skillfully navigates the rapids of national and international regular and exceptional regulation of citizenship to call into question the consensus that roots citizenship, and thus rights, in a national system of belonging to note the ways that the plight of German Jews “provoked transient concessions from nation-states to human rights” (422) in the name of equity and justice.  Some lawyers proffered emergent international humanitarian law to assume the vocation of assuring that statelessness ceased to be equated with deprivation of individual rights, but the national and international solutions to the conundrum of statelessness after 1945 remained ambivalent, as they remain ambivalent and refractory today.  Fraser and Caestecker illustrate in an exemplary way how legal history speaks to the most contemporary of concerns.
The members of this year's Surrency Prize Committee were:
Kenneth F. Ledford (Case Western University), Co-chair
David Abraham (University of Miami), Co-chair
Maribel Morey (Clemson University)
Elizabeth Kolsky (Villanova University) 
Matthew P. Harrington (University of Montreal)
Congratulations to Professors Fraser and Caestecker!