About the Program

Our work is ground­ed in schol­ar­ship that has estab­lished race as at the core of inter­pret­ing the his­to­ry of the Amer­i­c­as. Race here is a set of ideas that rely upon under­stand­ings of reli­gion, cul­ture, labor, biol­o­gy, and pol­i­tics, and have both ratio­nal­ized pro­found inequal­i­ty and gal­va­nized move­ments for social justice. 



Schol­ars have chart­ed the con­nec­tions between legal cul­ture and slav­ery and its abo­li­tion, the emer­gence of demo­c­ra­t­ic states, impe­ri­al­ism, social wel­fare pol­i­cy, and move­ments for civ­il and human rights. 

Our work is linked to the broad trends in social and cul­tur­al his­to­ry, explor­ing how race and law have come togeth­er to shape ideas about home, fam­i­ly, mar­riage, gen­der, and sexuality.

  • Our Schol­ar­ship

    New Schol­ar­ship

    The inter­ests of the core fac­ul­ty reflect many of the defin­ing con­cerns of the Pro­gram in Race, Law, and His­to­ry. We are his­to­ri­ans of race in the Unit­ed States and Latin Amer­i­ca, of law and the trans­for­ma­tion of the state, of cit­i­zen­ship and claims-mak­ing, and of Atlantic world slavery.

    Train­ing Emerg­ing Scholars

    With foun­da­tion­al cours­es in Amer­i­can Legal His­to­ry and Leg­is­la­tion, spe­cial­ized sem­i­nars in the his­to­ry of slav­ery and a course on the bound­aries of cit­i­zen­ship, and an inten­sive fac­ul­­ty-stu­­dent legal his­to­ry work­shop, the pro­gram offers you numer­ous oppor­tu­ni­ties to explore and devel­op your expertise. 

    Many of our stu­dents take insights from their involve­ment in the Pro­gram in Race, Law, and His­to­ry into the world of legal prac­tice. From civ­il rights and pub­lic inter­est posi­tions to immi­gra­tion law intern­ships to judi­cial clerk­ships, our stu­dents draw upon their work with the pro­gram to bet­ter ana­lyze present-day dynam­ics of race in his­tor­i­cal terms. 

    Some con­tin­ue their stud­ies in MA and PhD pro­grams that ful­ly explore the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary oppor­tu­ni­ties at Michi­gan Law and through­out the uni­ver­si­ty. Still oth­ers extend their work with the pro­gram into aca­d­e­m­ic careers, writ­ing and teach­ing in col­leges, law schools, and universities.

  • Fel­low­ship in Race, Law, and History

    The Pro­gram in Race, Law, and His­to­ry at Michi­gan Law will award up to five aca­d­e­m­ic year fel­low­ships to stu­dents enrolled in JD, PhD, and oth­er ter­mi­nal grad­u­ate pro­grams at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan in Ann Arbor. The pro­gram fos­ters inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research at the inter­sec­tion of three lines of intel­lec­tu­al inquiry: law, his­to­ry, and race. Through help­ing law and grad­u­ate stu­dents engage in this schol­ar­ship and col­lab­o­rate with schol­ars in the field at Michi­gan Law and beyond, the pro­gram pro­vides a space for his­tor­i­cal inves­ti­ga­tion into the ongo­ing salience of race in our world.

    About the Fel­low­ship in Race, Law, and History

  • Col­lab­o­ra­tions

    Our work at Michi­gan Law assumes nation­al and inter­na­tion­al scope through our collaborations. 

    We have co-spon­­sored a round­table in Paris and helped to orga­nize a con­fer­ence in Brazil. Our part­ners include the Amer­i­can Soci­ety for Legal His­to­ry and the Legal His­to­ry Con­sor­tium (which include Michi­gan Law as well as the law schools of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois, Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta, and Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia). Here, new schol­ar­ship, emerg­ing schol­ars, and the build­ing of col­lab­o­ra­tive net­works come togeth­er and exem­pli­fy our model.

    Amer­i­can Soci­ety for Legal History


    The Celia Project 

    This col­lab­o­ra­tive research project will gen­er­ate new schol­ar­ship that illu­mi­nates the his­to­ry of sex­u­al vio­lence, women, and slav­ery in the Unit­ed States through a detailed explo­ration of the case, The State of Mis­souri v. Celia, A Slave

    In Mis­souri in 1855, an enslaved woman named Celia was tried, con­vict­ed, and ulti­mate­ly exe­cut­ed for mur­der­ing her own­er, Robert New­som, a mur­der she con­fessed to com­mit­ting in an effort to end what had been five years of sex­u­al abuse. Celia’s tri­al includ­ed remark­able (though unsuc­cess­ful) argu­ments about the rights of enslaved women to self-defense against sex­u­al assault. 

    The reac­tion to these argu­ments would shape the legal treat­ment of the rape of slaves in the years lead­ing up to the Civ­il War, facil­i­tate the sys­tem­at­ic sex­u­al exploita­tion of enslaved women and the refusal to rec­og­nize that exploita­tion as rape,” and leave a chal­leng­ing lega­cy of racism and sex­u­al vio­lence to the present day in the Unit­ed States.

    The Celia Project brings togeth­er social, cul­tur­al, and legal his­to­ri­ans with lit­er­ary schol­ars to explore how we might col­lec­tive­ly pro­duce and present new analy­ses of Celia and the mul­ti­ple impli­ca­tions of the case. Direct­ed by Pro­fes­sor Martha S. Jones and Han­nah Rosen, Asso­ci­a­tion Direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Research on Women and Gen­der (IRWG.)

    The Celia Project 


    The Law in Slav­ery and Free­dom Project 

    The Law in Slav­ery and Free­dom Project is a cur­ric­u­lar and research ini­tia­tive that has been devel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with The Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sci­ences Sociales, France; the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cologne, Ger­many; the Uni­ver­si­ty of Camp­inas, Brazil; the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wind­sor, Ontario, Cana­da; the Uni­ver­sité Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Sene­gal; and the Cen­tro Juan Marinel­lo, Havana, Cuba. 

    Stu­dents from these insti­tu­tions have par­tic­i­pat­ed in sem­i­nars taught by fac­ul­ty from all sites and con­tin­ue to exchange ideas through online dis­cus­sions of read­ings on the top­ic of law and slav­ery in the Atlantic world. 

    The fac­ul­ty and grad­u­ate stu­dent col­lab­o­ra­tors are doing research on slav­ery, law, and eman­ci­pa­tion in regions from the U.S. South to the Caribbean, France, Peru, West Africa, and Brazil.

Affil­i­at­ed Faculty

Michelle Adams, Law School

Char­lotte Karem Albrecht, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Samer Ali, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Sara Awartani, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Nicholas Bagley, Law School

Patrick Bar­ry, Law School

Elise Bod­die, Law School

Melis­sa Bor­ja, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Pamela Brandwein, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Howard J. Bromberg, Law School

Luis C.deBaca, Law School

Pär Cas­sel, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Sueann Caulfield, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Kristin Collins, Law School

Nicholas Cor­nell, Law School

Angela D. Dil­lard, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Gre­go­ry E. Dowd, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Jatin Dua, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Matthew L.M. Fletch­er, Law School

Sara Fors­dyke, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Edgar Fran­co-Vivan­co, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Daniel Fry­er, Law School

Kristin Ann Hass, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Daniel Her­witz, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Don Her­zog, Law School

Nicholas Cal­ci­na How­sonLaw School

Murad Idris, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Ellen D. Katz, Law School

Leila Kawar, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Noah Kazis, Law School

Alexan­dra B. Klass, Law School

Bri­an Klein, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Nao­mi R. Lam­ore­aux, Law School

Matthew Las­siter, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Jere­my Levine, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Jes­si­ca Lit­man, Law School

Bar­bara L. McQuade, Law School

Julian Davis Morten­sonLaw School

Rafael Neis, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Leonard M. Niehoff, Law School

Richard Primus, Law School

Gabriel V. Rauter­berg, Law School

Sanne Ravens­ber­gen, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Mar­go Schlanger, Law School

Rebec­ca J. Scott, Law School

Heather Ann Thomp­son, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

James Clouser WolfeCol­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Kate Wrob­lews­ki, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts

Ekow N. Yankah, Law School

Mari­ah Zeis­berg, Col­lege of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence, and the Arts