Rebecca J. Scott is the Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Law. At the Law School, she teaches a course on civil rights and the boundaries of citizenship in historical perspective, as well as a seminar on the law in slavery and freedom. Her most recent book, co-authored with Jean M. Hébrard, is
Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation (Harvard University Press, 2012), which traces one family's interaction with law and official documents across five generations, from West Africa to the Americas to Europe.
Freedom Papers was awarded the 2012 Albert Beveridge Book Award in American History and the James Rawley Book Prize in Atlantic History, both from the American Historical Association.
Among Prof. Scott's recent articles are "Discerning a Dignitary Offense: The Concept of Equal 'Public Rights' during Reconstruction." Law & Hist. Rev. 38, no. 3 (2020): 519-53; the co-authored "María Coleta and the Capuchin Friar: Slavery, Salvation, and the Adjudication of Status," with Carlos Venegas,
William and Mary Quarterly (October 2019); "How Does the Law put a Historical Analogy to Work?: Defining the Imposition of 'A Condition Analogous to that of a Slave' in Modern Brazil," with L. A. de Andrade Barbosa and C. H. Haddad,
Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy 13 (2017); "Social Facts, Legal Fictions, and the Attribution of Slave Status: The Puzzle of Prescription,"
Law and History Review (2017); and "Public Rights, Social Equality, and the Conceptual Roots of the
Michigan Law Review (2008).
Professor Scott received an AB from Radcliffe College/Harvard University, an MPhil in economic history from the London School of Economics, and a PhD in history from Princeton University. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is past president of the American Society for Legal History (2015–2017).
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