2018 Saller Dissertation Prize awarded to Emma Stone Mackinnon (Political Science)

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Emma Stone Mackinnon, PhD’17 (Political Science), has been selected as the 2018 Recipient of the Richard Saller Dissertation Prize.


Mackinnon defended her dissertation—“Imperial Promises: The Contested Politics of Human Rights in the Twentieth Century”—in September 2017. Jennifer Pitts, associate professor and director of graduate studies in Political Science, in nominating Mackinnon for the award, described the dissertation as “a remarkable work of political theory and an outstanding archivally-based work of history, as well as a significant contribution to the history and theory of human rights. [It] combines theoretical ambition with significant historical and archival research. At the heart of the project is an effort to understand how human rights, like other liberal commitments, have been implicated in forms of domination, particularly racial domination and imperialism, and what kinds of human rights politics have been and might be deployed in opposition to such domination. She focuses especially on midcentury anticolonial and racial justice movements that are often ignored in histories of human rights because they are taken to have had different concerns, above all with self-determination.”


Mackinnon is currently completely a Junior Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and is in the process of revising the manuscript for submission to presses by the end of the year.


The award is named for Richard P. Saller, the tenth Provost of the University of Chicago (2002-2006) and former Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences (1994-2002). Professor Saller joined the University of Chicago as an Associate Professor of Anthropology in 1984. He was awarded the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1992 and was named the Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor. He left UChicago in 2007 for Stanford University where continues to serve as Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.


The Saller Dissertation Prize recognizes the most outstanding dissertation of the year. It is awarded annually through the work of a multidisciplinary faculty committee. This year’s members included Marc Berman (Psychology), Adrian Johns (History), Jennifer Pitts (Political Science), Kristen Schilt (Sociology), Rick Schweder (CHD), and Rosanna Warren (Social Thought). A full list of awardees since the award’s founding in 1986 is available HERE.

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