I study slavery, race, and the law in the colonial Atlantic World. My dissertation, “The Currency of Race: Slave Courts and Compensation in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic,” examines slave courts, or courts that exclusively tried the crimes of enslaved peoples, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. From their legal origins in Early Modern England and establishment in the British Caribbean, to their further development in the North American colonies, I trace how Colonial Assemblies used slave courts to police alleged enslaved criminality, strengthen gendered notions of slaveholder prestige, and racialize jurisprudence.
Utilizing a wealth of newly discovered slave court records from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Jamaica, my dissertation asks how the compensation paid to enslavers for their executed slaves connected Atlantic slave markets and catalyzed the development of legal knowledge among enslaved peoples. By mediating the application of slave law based on the financial needs of individual slaveowners, slave courts helped reinforce white slaveowners’ property rights, shaped the development of defendants' rights, and made race function as a legal category in colonists’ daily lives over the course of the eighteenth century.
For the 2022-2023 school year, I will be pursuing my JD at Yale Law School.