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Amalia Kessler

Amalia Kessler

Stanford University
Fellow, 2021-22

During her time at CASBS, Amalia D. Kessler will work on a book provisionally entitled The Public Roots of Private Ordering: Arbitration and the Remaking of the Modern American State. The project aims to reconceptualize the early twentieth-century origins of modern American arbitration, challenging the now dominant view that arbitration is necessarily a matter of private contract in which government has no business interfering. Arbitration, she argues, was not an effort to retreat from the state, but rather, to refashion it. As such, it was part of an ad hoc, bottom-up, and non-bureaucratic approach to state-building that was distinctively American – and one that we would do well to recall, as we confront the challenges of our new Gilded Age.

Kessler is the Lewis Talbot and Nadine Hearn Shelton Professor of International Legal Studies and professor (by courtesy) of history at Stanford University, as well as the director of the Stanford Center for Law and History and the Law School’s associate dean for Advanced Degree Programs. Her research explores the intersections between law, markets and dispute resolution in both France and the United States from the early modern period through to the twentieth century. Among her publications are Inventing American Exceptionalism: The Origins of American Adversarial Legal Culture, 1800-1877 (Yale University Press, 2017), which received the American Society for Legal History’s award for the best English-language monograph on Anglo-American legal history by a mid-career or senior scholar; and A Revolution in Commerce: The Parisian Merchant Court and the Rise of Commercial Society in Eighteenth-Century France (Yale University Press, 2007), which was awarded the American Historical Association’s prize for the best book in English on French history. She is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow.

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