The Question of Questions: The Problem of Statelessness in International History, 1921-1961

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The Question of Questions: The Problem of Statelessness in International History, 1921-1961

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Title: The Question of Questions: The Problem of Statelessness in International History, 1921-1961
Author: Siegelberg, Mira Leia
Citation: Siegelberg, Mira Leia. 2014. The Question of Questions: The Problem of Statelessness in International History, 1921-1961. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation provides an intellectual history of statelessness from the First World War to the Cold War. Statelessness arose as a distinctive legal and bureaucratic category after 1921. In the following decades, lawyers and civil servants looked to the growing numbers of stateless people in their efforts to elaborate a new liberal international order in Europe and the wider world. It contends that the problem of mass statelessness after World War I motivated the idea that individuals, rather than states, are the subjects of international legal order. Despite the celebrated turn to the language of universal human rights in the postwar era, the problem of statelessness in this period supported the consolidation of the nation-state as the central unit of global organization. International legal scholars who had celebrated the rise of supranational forms of belonging in the interwar period turned to arguments for citizenship as the basic postulate for inclusion within international legal order. The debates among legal scholars, international civil servants, and state officials serve as crucial resources for charting the impact of statelessness on international political thought. I argue that the transformation of statelessness from an important intellectual problem in the period after World War I to an ambiguous moral problem associated with human rights after 1948, contributed to its marginalization as an object of humanitarian concern and as an important category for comprehending international political and legal order.
This dissertation contributes the first in-depth account of how the problem of statelessness informed developing theories of the state and international law in the twentieth century, and of the consolidation of the concept of statelessness out of practical political and humanitarian considerations. Drawing on archival sources from England, France, Switzerland, Austria, and the United States, as well as published materials, I show that the concept of statelessness was built up by a variety of transnational figures, including stateless people demanding official recognition of statelessness as an international legal category in court cases after World War I.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13064973
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