The prize was presented to her by the Law and Society Association, a group of scholars from many fields and countries interested in the effects of law on social, political, economic, and cultural life. The group is based at the University of Massachusetts.
Darian-Smith, originally an Australian citizen, received a combined history and law degree from the University of Melbourne and worked as a commercial litigation attorney in Australia before starting work on Bridging Divides.
Her book, a product of five years of research, describes the Channel Tunnel as far more than merely a marvel of engineering. The completion of the tunnel in 1994 symbolized the disintegration of state borders and brings up questions of boundaries between the first and third worlds and "East" and"West."
"I am interested in bordering countries and law," Darian-Smith said. "The Channel Tunnel seemed a marvelous site to investigate borders and the relations of countries, incorporating law as well."
The book charts the collision of national memory and history, and maps the shifting geographies of nationalism, postcolonialism, and legal autonomy in the complicated age of globalization.
"Theoretically rich and empirically rigorous, Bridging Divides is a model of interdisciplinary legal scholarship and a must-read for anyone wanting a glimpse over the horizon at cutting edge research," said Austin Sarat, political science professor at Amherst College.