The Brown Legal History Workshop offers a regular forum for scholars at Brown to share ideas engaging the themes of law and legal history--broadly construed and unrestricted by geography, chronology, or discipline. The workshop originated from observations that there are a number of scholars at Brown working on or interested in law and legal history across various disciplines, but there was no venue to bring all of us together into a scholarly community with common interests.  Our goal is to use one another’s work-in-progress or research questions to generate discussions of interest to all but of particular help to an individual presenter. The climate we seek to create is informal and interdisciplinary, and we are open to all kinds of presentations: a prospectus of a project just underway; a piece of writing in its preliminary stages; a set of sources (perhaps with a background description to give context) that raises issues of methodologies and intersections of fields, etc.  

Anyone wishing to present--faculty, visiting fellows, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students--should contact the organizers. In addition, the organizers contact all on the Brown Legal Studies listserv prior to the start of every semester to solicit presentations. (See below for the contact information of the 2016-17 organizers.)  We typically meet about once a month, or three times during the semester. Meetings are held on Friday mornings over breakfast at the Brown Faculty Club, with breakfast provided to all who attend.

Spring 2018 Schedule:

February 23: Paul M. B. Gutierrez, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, Brown University

       Colonizing through Contract: The Settler Colonial Entanglements of Corporate Charters and Private Contracts in Dartmouth College v. Woodward

March 9: Daniel Platt, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies, Brown University

       A Relation of Status and Not of Contract’: The Family Privilege in Nineteenth-Century Insolvency Law

April 6: Alex Winder, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Palestinian Studies, Brown University

       Between Communal Reconciliation and Collective Punishment: The Interplay of Formal and Informal Justice in Response to Rural Crime in British Mandate Palestine


The Brown Legal History Workshop is generously sponsored by the History Department, the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

For 2017-18, the organizers are:

Faiz Ahmed          

Rebecca Nedostup

Emily Owens    

Mike Vorenberg   



Fall 2017

October 13: Sreemati Mitter, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History and International and Public Affairs, Brown University 

       "Always Borrowers": Financial Life in Mandate Palestine

November 10Tracy Steffes, Associate Professor of Education and History, Brown University

       The Struggle for Fair and Affordable Housing in 1970s Suburban Chicago

December 1Bathsheba R. Demuth, Assistant Professor of History and Environment and Society, Brown University

       Marine Mammals, Transnational Conservation, and Indigenous Rights at the Bering Strait

Spring 2017

February 10: Jordan Branch, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Brown University

     “"Technological Change and Territorial Politics: Historical Considerations”"

March 10: Evelyn Hu-Dehart, Professor of History, American Studies and Ethnic Studies, Brown University

     "“Chinese ‘Coolies’ in Nineteenth Century Cuba and the Transition to Free Labor”"

April 14: Amelia Hintzen, Ruth J. Simmons Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice, Brown University

“     "A Sugarcane Immigration Status: How Migration, Documentation, and Sugar Production Changed Citizenship in the Dominican Republic.”"

Fall 2016

September 30: Sara Ludin, PhD Candidate UC Berkeley, Visiting Research Fellow in History, Brown University

     “’Was Art und Wesens die seien’: Attempts to Define ‘Religion’ as a Category of Legal Issue after the Nürnberg Peace of 1532”

October 28: Sarah Besky, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International and Public Affairs, Brown University

     "Spaces for Labor: Inheritance and Infrastructure on Darjeeling Tea Plantations”

December 2: Elena Shih, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies, Brown University

     "Benevolent Authoritarianism and Global Governance: Human Trafficking Law and Labor Politics in China"