Midcentury modernisms: reinventing American nationality law in the 20th century

In this tandem presentation, Professors Kerber and Collins examine how upheaval caused by two world wars and other dislocations triggered high-profile contests over nationality law’s role in the emerging world order. In the United States, reformers pressed legislators to modernize American nationality law to reflect new understandings of family structure and gender equality, only to have immigration and consular officials sabotage their efforts.  On the international stage, unsung heroes in the Department of State ghost-wrote international conventions intended to stabilize the right to a nationality and successfully – and radically – revised the rules for asylum in international law.  By the 1960s, the right to a nationality was central to contemporary conceptions of human rights, but contests over the scope and meaning of nationality as a political status were not over.