Program in Race, Law & History
The Program in Race, Law & History reflects our mission for the 21st century. Through cutting-edge scholarship, the training of emerging practitioners and legal historians, and collaborations with colleagues on our campus and beyond, the Program is our contribution to today's understanding of race and law.
– Prof. Martha S. Jones, Codirector
Welcome to the Program in Race, Law & History. We are an interdisciplinary program dedicated to research and teaching at the intersection of these three lines of intellectual inquiry. Through new scholarship, the training of students in law and history, and collaborations with colleagues and institutions at Michigan and beyond, the Program provides a unique historical perspective on the ongoing salience of race in our world. 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.
The interests of the core faculty reflect many of the defining concerns of the Program in Race, Law & 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, of Atlantic world slavery, and of race and visual culture.
By offering foundational courses in American Legal History and Legislation, specialized seminars in the history of slavery and citizenship and in Critical Race Theory, as well as an intensive faculty-student Legal History Workshop, the Program permits students to develop their interests and expertise in the field. Many of our students take the insights from the Program in Race, Law & History into the world of legal practice. In areas from civil rights litigation and criminal defense to judicial clerkship, 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 M.A. and Ph.D. programs that fully explore the interdisciplinary dimensions of the Program in Race, Law & History. Still others will extend their work with the Program into academic careers, writing and teaching in colleges, law schools, and universities.
Our work at Michigan Law assumes national and international scope through our collaborations. This vision is reflected in our inaugural April 2011 conference, "'We Must First Take Account': A Conference on Race, Law, and History in the Americas." The work of scholars new to the field of race, law, and history is the centerpiece for this international gathering. Our partners include the American Society for Legal History and the Legal History Consortium (comprised of Michigan Law and 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.