Legal Historian Mark Weiner Is Named 2009-2010 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Scholar

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Will be honored in February 2010 at Rutgers University in Newark


Members of the media should contact Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5262, or

(Newark, N.J., June 23,  2009) –- A  professor whose scholarship bridges the disciplines of history, law and cultural studies has been named the  2009/2010 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Scholar at Rutgers University, Newark. Professor Mark S. Weiner, a resident of Hamden, Connecticut, teaches courses in constitutional law, Anglo-American legal history, free speech, church-state relations, and state constitutional law at Rutgers School of Law-Newark. 

Steven J. Diner, chancellor of Rutgers-Newark, will present the award to Weiner in February during a reception in which Weiner also will give a lecture related to his research, which for many years focused on issues of race and citizenship in American law and now concerns clan relationships and chieftaincies in medieval law and society.  Weiner’s latest work investigates how legal developments in the middle ages can shed light on efforts today to develop the rule of law in weak states and regions of the world which nurture international terrorism.  His talk will be titled “Clan, Culture, and the Law: Lessons from the Island of Memory.”

This latest award comes on the heels of Weiner’s appointment as a Fulbright Scholar for the fall 2009 semester. Weiner will travel to the University of Akureyi, Iceland, 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle, to teach an intensive course on U.S. constitutional law and to conduct research for a new book about the destruction of clan identity as a prerequisite for the development of the rule of law and the contemporary historical consciousness of medieval kinship structures and legal institutions.

This spring, Weiner also was selected Professor of the Year by students at the law school.

“I’m thrilled and deeply honored to receive the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award,” said Weiner.  “I’m dedicated to neutral, non-partisan academic research which can take many years to produce and often can seem pretty arcane—right now I’m most excited about trying to understand what happened in Icelandic law between 1262 and 1281—but I’m also devoted to bringing ideas that might initially seem obscure to the general public and to showing why they have meaning and importance for us today,” he stated. ”For instance, I believe what happened in Iceland in the thirteenth century can help us understand what’s happening right now in Afghanistan and Somalia.  I’m so pleased to be recognized by the university for the kind of work I do—especially by Chancellor Diner, who is a fellow historian.  It’s impossible to overstate what recognition like this can do for a scholar’s morale: it can sustain you for years while you’re navigating a sea of intellectual uncertainties.”

 The Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award honors professors who have done exceptional scholarly work on a subject of fundamental intellectual importance, according to Diner. Another requirement is that recipients demonstrate the ability to speak about their research, no matter how technical it might be, in terms understandable to a broad general audience.

Weiner received his A.B. from Stanford University, where he graduated with honors and distinction and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University, where he was awarded a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, a Samuel I. Golieb Fellowship in Legal History from New York University School of Law, and a dissertation fellowship from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.

Weiner is the author of Black Trials: Citizenship From the Beginnings of Slavery to the End of Caste (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), which received the 2005 American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, given annually to a work “exemplary in helping to foster the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system.”  He also received a year-long fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for Black Trials. His latest book, Americans Without Law: The Racial Boundaries of Citizenship (NYU Press, 2006), was awarded the President’s Book Award from the Social Science History Association.  In recognition of his scholarly achievements and potential, Weiner also was awarded a Rutgers Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence in 2006. 


Media Contact: Carla Capizzi