• Statelessness

    by Mira L. Siegelberg
    Price $35.00
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October 26, 2020

Mira L. Siegelberg

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes MIRA L. SIEGELBERG—University Lecturer in the History of International Political Thought at the University of Cambridge—for a discussion of her book Statelessness: A Modern History. She will be joined in conversation by KATRINA FORRESTER, Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard University and author of In the Shadow of Justice: Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy.


Two world wars left millions stranded in Europe. The collapse of empires and the rise of independent states in the twentieth century produced an unprecedented number of people without national belonging and with nowhere to go. Mira Siegelberg’s innovative history weaves together ideas about law and politics, rights and citizenship, with the intimate plight of stateless persons, to explore how and why the problem of statelessness compelled a new understanding of the international order in the twentieth century and beyond.

In the years following the First World War, the legal category of statelessness generated novel visions of cosmopolitan political and legal organization and challenged efforts to limit the boundaries of national membership and international authority. Yet, as Siegelberg shows, the emergence of mass statelessness ultimately gave rise to the rights regime created after World War II, which empowered the territorial state as the fundamental source of protection and rights, against alternative political configurations.

Today we live with the results: more than twelve million people are stateless and millions more belong to categories of recent invention, including refugees and asylum seekers. By uncovering the ideological origins of the international agreements that define categories of citizenship and non-citizenship, Statelessness better equips us to confront current dilemmas of political organization and authority at the global level.

About Author(s)

Mira L. Siegelberg is University Lecturer in the History of International Political Thought at the University of Cambridge and a past member of the Princeton University Society of Fellows.

Katrina Forrester is Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard University. She is the co-editor of Nature, Action and the Future: Political Thought and the Environment (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Her writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the London Review of BooksHarper'sThe GuardianThe NationDissentn+1The New Statesman, and elsewhere. In the Shadow of Justice is her first book.