Anna Leah Fidelis T. Castañeda LL.M. ’96 S.J.D. ’09 was awarded the William Nelson Cromwell Dissertation Prize for her Harvard Law School S.J.D. dissertation: “Creating Exceptional Empire: American Liberal Constitutionalism and the Construction of the Constitutional Order of the Philippine Islands, 1898-1935.”

The award recognizes excellence in scholarship by a junior scholar on topics ranging from constitutional to comparative studies and is given on the recommendation of the American Society of Legal History Prize Committee.

The citation from the committee describes Castañeda’s work as follows: “a groundbreaking study of the foundational period of the modern Philippine state. Drawing on an extraordinary range of American and Philippine sources, Castañeda shows how the introduction of liberal and progressive constitutional institutions to a colonial context—separated powers, expanded administrative discretion, even democratic principles of governance— actually facilitated authoritarian rule, reinforcing local patterns of class domination while also smoothing the path for powerful foreign economic interests to control development.  Imagined and executed on a large scale, this study makes an original and extraordinary contribution both to Filipino legal history and to the study of the legal machinery of colonialism and empire more generally.”

Castañeda’s dissertation was supervised by HLS Professor Christine Desan, who specializes in legal and political thought, and Professor William Alford ’77, vice dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, and director of East Asian Legal Studies.

Castañeda is the first Filipino woman and only the third Filipino to receive an S.J.D. from HLS. As a student, she won several awards, including the 2008 Yong Kim ’95 Memorial Prize for having the best student paper concerning the law or legal history of the peoples and nations of East Asia or issues concerning U.S.-East Asian relations. Castañeda was also a visiting scholar in the East Asian Legal Studies Program at HLS from 1996-1997.