Departmental Colloquium: Rebecca Scott (Michigan) "Was Freedom Portable? The Risks of Re-Enslavement in the Diaspora of the Haitian Revolution"


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, coauthored 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 has been 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. The book also has been awarded the 2013 Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies and the Institut Français d'Amerique. Among Prof. Scott's recent articles are "Under Color of Law:Siliadin v. France and the Dynamics of Enslavement in Historical Perspective," in Jean Allain, ed., The Legal Understanding of Slavery (Oxford University Press, 2012); "Paper Thin: Freedom and Re-enslavement in the Diaspora of the Haitian Revolution," Law and History Review (November 2011); and "Public Rights, Social Equality, and the Conceptual Roots of the PlessyChallenge," Michigan Law Review (2008). Prof. Scott received an AB from Radcliffe College, an MPhil in economic history from the London School of Economics, and a PhD in history from Princeton University. She has held the Guggenheim Fellowship and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Despite its famous storms, the Gulf of Mexico has often served as a pathway for the exchange of people and ideas among the colonies and nations on its shores, including the idea that persons could not be held as property, and that all persons are entitled to the protection of the law. Rebecca Scott, co-author with Jean Hébrard of Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation, will explore the itinerary of one woman – Adélaïde Métayer/Durand – whose journey in the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution illuminates the thin line between slavery and freedom. As she moved from one jurisdiction to another, Adélaïde’s status crossed and re-crossed that line, amidst great dangers for the children whose status was contingent upon hers.


scott flyer

Monday, April 27, 2015 - 4:00pm
All welcome
3335 Dwinelle