I am interested in the history of slavery and race in North America, American socio-legal history, the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the development of American political institutions. I am especially interested in the multiple approaches to studying slavery, the ways in which concepts of race shaped American political and legal identities over time, and the ways in which courts have operated and intervened during times of crisis and radical transition.

My current work explores the legal history of Reconstruction. Specifically, I explore the ways in which slavery remained legally relevant after emancipation, the degree to which formerly enslaved people used the courts to assert and claim rights, and the role American courts played in shaping the meaning of black freedom and the ultimate outcome of Reconstruction.

  • Slavery & Race in North America
  • Legal History
  • The Civil War & Reconstruction
  • 19th Century U.S. History
  • U.S. History

Nothing More than Freedom: The Failure of Abolition in American Law (Cambridge University Press, 2023)

“What to the Law is the Former Slave?” Slavery and Abolition, 40, no 2. (June 2019): 256-270. 

“‘Back into the Days of Slavery’: Slavery, Citizenship, and the Black Family in the Reconstruction Era Courtroom,” Law and History Review, 37, no.1 (February 2019): 125–61. 

“Confederate Monuments Always Embodied a White Heritage of Hate,” Op-Ed, Haaretz, August 14, 2017. 

“Litigating Emancipation: Legacies of Slavery in the Post-Emancipation United States,” Blog Post, London School of Economics Centre for the Study of Human Rights, October 19, 2015. 

  • History 5: History of the Present
  • History 17B: The History of the American People, 1830-1920
  • History 142AL: American Legal & Constitutional History
  • History 142S: Slavery and the Making of African America, 1550-1861
  • History 164C: The Civil War & Reconstruction
  • History 201AM: The Historiography of American Slavery
  • History 201AM: Modern America(ns): The United States from Reconstruction through the Progressive Era
  • History 201AM: Race after Slavery

University of California President’s Faculty Research Fellowships in the Humanities, 2018-2019

William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Early Career Scholar Fellowship, 2020