Rebecca J. Scott, professor of law and the Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History, has been named the University's Henry Russel Lecturer for 2012. Considered one of the University's highest honors for a senior member of its active faculty, the Henry Russel Lectureship is awarded annually in recognition of a scholar's exceptional achievements in research, scholarship and/or creative endeavors, and an outstanding record of teaching, mentoring, and service.
Prof. Scott is best known for her groundbreaking publications on slavery, and on race and the law, in post-emancipation Cuba, Brazil, and the United States. Her accomplishments have been acknowledged throughout her career with numerous awards and honors.
With Jean M. Hébrard from the École des Hautes Études in Paris, Scott recently completed a book titled Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation (Harvard University Press), scheduled for publication in February 2012. The book explores questions of freedom, law, and dignity in the Atlantic world. It recounts the history of several generations of one family, starting with the captivity in West Africa of a woman named Rosalie. The book follows Rosalie through her enslavement in the French West Indies and her emancipation during the Haitian Revolution. Scott and Hébrard then examine the winding path of the next two generations through Santiago de Cuba, New Orleans, Paris, Veracruz, and Antwerp. Along the way, two of Rosalie's grandsons served in the Union Army, and one of them was elected to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1868, helping to write the state's Reconstruction Constitution, with its remarkable guarantees of equal rights. The book continues into the twentieth century, with an epilogue on the participation of Rosalie's great-great-granddaughter Marie-José Tinchant in the resistance to the Nazi occupation of Belgium.
Scott's Russel Lecture on February 23 will explore the relationship of slavery to law, both in the nineteenth century and in the present.
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