Rutgers Will Honor Law Professor, A Fulbright Scholar, For Research, Teaching Contributions

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Feb. 23 Ceremonies at Rutgers University, Newark


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NEWARK, N.J. –- Rutgers Law School-Newark Professor Mark S. Weiner will be honored as 2009/2010 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Scholar at Rutgers University, Newark, during a Feb. 23 reception and lecture.  Steven J. Diner, chancellor of Rutgers-Newark, will present the award to Weiner, who will then give a talk titled “Clan, Culture, and the Concept of Law: Lessons from Iceland.” The ceremonies will begin at 4 p.m. in the Paul Robeson Campus Center, 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The professor has just returned from the University of Akureyi, Iceland, 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle, where he spent the fall 2009 semester as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching an intensive course on U.S. constitutional law.  He also conducted research for a new book about the legal and cultural significance of the clan, or extended kinship network, and its relation to the growth of the modern state.  Among its topics, the book will consider how legal developments in the middle ages shed light on current efforts to develop the rule  of law in weak states and regions of the world which nurture international terrorism.  “I believe what happened in Iceland in the 13th century can help us understand what’s happening right now in Afghanistan and Somalia,” explains Weiner.  His Feb. 23 talk will address those topics and provide an overview of his work in progress. 

“I’m thrilled and deeply honored to receive the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award,” says Weiner.  “I’m dedicated to 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 states.  The relation between Iceland in the 13th century and the current situation in Afghanistan and Somalia is one such example, according to Weiner.

Weiner, whose scholarship bridges the disciplines of history, law and cultural studies, teaches courses in constitutional law, Anglo-American legal history, free speech, church-state relations, and state constitutional law at the law school.  Weiner’s earlier research had focused on issues of race and citizenship in American law.  He is a resident of Hamden, Connecticut.

The Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award honors professors for both the knowledge they uncover during their research, and their ability to convey that knowledge to the public. “Research scholars must have done exceptional scholarly work on a subject of fundamental intellectual importance, and demonstrate that they can discuss their research — no matter how technical it might be — in terms understandable to a broad general audience,” explains Diner.

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

Weiner notes, “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.”

 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