Stanford University

Louise Bourgeois Essay Prize

Sonya Schoenberger

Our inaugural Louise Bourgeois Essay Prize for a research essay by a Stanford Masters or early PhD level student in Humanities, Arts or Social Sciences goes to Sonya Schoenberger for Law, Empire and Radioactive Risk: Landscapes of Rights and Redress in the Nuclear Pacific. Schoenberger received her bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis and then worked at the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. She is currently a second-year PhD student in Stanford’s History Department in the field of Transnational, International, and Global history, where her work centers on the intersections of law, empire, and environmental violence in the 20th century. She is concurrently pursuing a J.D. at Yale Law School, where she served as an Articles Editor for the Yale Journal of International Law and worked as a student intern with the Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic. Schoenberger’s prize-winning essay examines the legal history of nuclear testing in the Pacific, comparing French, American and British systems of justification. Her study reveals the ways in which France, the United States and the United Kingdom exploited imperial dynamics in the Pacific to displace radioactive risk, making “risk absorption” a new form of colonial resource.