german usa mapWe are delighted to announce a major international conference:  States of Exception in American History.  It will be held at Clare College, University of Cambridge, 15-16 May 2015.

The purpose of the conference is to explore the role of ‘states of exception’ in American political development.  ‘Exceptions’ will be interpreted broadly to include both suspensions of the rule of law in the face of emergencies, and jurisdictional grey zones in which persons or territories have been denied the full range of rights and obligations provided for under the Constitution. The conference will aim to weave together the different strands of research of contributors from the UK, United States, Canada, and France and includes a public lecture by Geoffrey R. Stone, University of Chicago Law School.  His topic: Perilous Times: The View from Inside the NSA.

This conference launches the Consortium on the History of State and Society (CHOSAS), a multi-year initiative involving the American University of Paris, University of Cambridge, University of Chicago, and University of Michigan.

The conference programme appears below. Please feel free to circulate it to colleagues and students who may be interested.

A link to the registration page can be found on the conference web page, accessible through this link:  States of Exception in American History

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University of Cambridge
Latimer Room, Clare College
15-16 May 2015

Friday 15 May

08.00-08.30 – Tea/coffee

08.30-08:45 – Introduction – Joel Isaac, University of Cambridge

08.45-10.45 – Session I: The Political Theory of Emergency

David Dyzenhaus, University of Toronto
Carl Schmitt in America

Nomi Claire Lazar, University of Ottawa
A Pox on Our Institutions? Quarantine and the Political Theory of Emergency

Chair and Commentator: Duncan Bell, University of Cambridge

10.45-11.00 – Tea/coffee

11.00-13.00 – Session II: States of Exception in the History of Political Thought

John Fabian Witt, Yale University
“To Save the Country”: A Lost Theory of Emergency Constitutionalism

Stephen Sawyer, American University of Paris
Representation Beyond Politics: Democratic Norms, Terror, and Exceptional Circumstances in Ralph W. Emerson, Thomas Carlyle, and Louis Blanc

Joel Isaac, University of Cambridge
Constitutional Dictatorship in American Political Thought, 1919-1950

Chair and Commentator: Duncan Kelly, University of Cambridge

13.00-14.30 – Lunch

14.30-16.30 – Session III: Geographies of Exception

Paul A. Kramer, Vanderbilt University
Black Site Blues: Borders, Bases, War Zones, and Other Spaces of Exception in Modern US History

Elisabeth S. Clemens, University of Chicago
Neither Public Nor Private:  Delegated Governance as a State of Exception

Chair and Commentator: Andrew Preston, University of Cambridge

16.30-18.00 – Free (Pub) Time

18.00-19.30 – Public Lecture

Geoffrey R. Stone, University of Chicago
Perilous Times: The View From Inside the NSA

Introduction: Gary Gerstle, University of Cambridge

Saturday 16 May

08.00-08.30 – Tea/coffee

08.30-10.30 – Session IV: Experiences of Persons Without Rights

Linda K. Kerber, University of Iowa
Three Americans and the UN Conventions on Refugees and the Stateless

Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Graduate Center, City University of New York
Within the Walls of America’s Prisons

Chair and Commentator: Nicholas Guyatt, University of Cambridge

10.30-11.00 – Tea/coffee

11.00-13.00 – Session V: Exceptions and Theories of State-Building

William J. Novak, University of Michigan; Steve Sawyer, American University of Paris; and James Sparrow, University of Chicago
Democratic States of Unexception:  Towards a New Genealogy of the American Political

Desmond King, University of Oxford, and Robert Lieberman, John Hopkins University
Facilitating Expansion or Enforcing Reversal? How States of Exception Shaped American Federal State Development

Chair and Commentator: Gary Gerstle, University of Cambridge

13.00-14.30 – Lunch

14.30-16.30 – Session VI: Reflections and Future Directions

Ira Katznelson, Columbia University and Social Science Research Council
David Runciman, University of Cambridge

Chair: Gareth Davies, University of Oxford

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We hope that you share our excitement about this event, and we look forward to seeing some of you in May.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Gerstle
Paul Mellon Professor of American History
University of Cambridge

Joel Isaac
Senior Lecturer in the History of Political Thought
University of Cambridge

All inquiries should be directed to Jonathan Goodwin,, 01223 335323.