Course Information

Course Number




JD Graduation Requirements

This course typically satisfies all or some of the following JD graduation requirements:
  • Writing

Slaves as Refugees and the Laws of War: Gender, Race, and the origins of human rights law in the U.S.

What does the U.S. Civil War have to do with the problem of refugees, statelessness, and the humanitarian rights of women and children? In the absence of the Geneva Accords of 1949 and the additional UN Protocols at the center of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), how did the U.S. respond to the women and children refugees during the Civil War of 1861-65? This course examines these questions in relation to property making (and holding) in slaves, the conduct of hostilities (jus in bello) in the Civil War, and the particular problems of women in relation to armed conflict? We will study the long history of refugees and refugee camps and human rights law that arose in response to the flight of slaves during the Civil War. The fact that the refugee camps under study were populated predominantly by black women and children raises new questions about gender and human rights archives and the consequences for struggles over freedom and citizenship.

Course discussions will focus on the laws of war; war, race, and gender; and the making of refugee camps and policies in the 19th century U.S. Readings for the course will include laws of war and treaties, congressional resolutions, the papers of Civil War humanitarian agencies, military commanders, and treasury department, officials, the Official Records of the War of Rebellion, records of Civil War refugee camps, and secondary sources.

Students in the course are required to prepare two weekly discussion questions, lead one discussion of the readings over the course of the semester, and submit a 30- page final research paper which satisfies the upper-level writing requirement. Students will submit at least one draft of the final paper and revise with input from the instructor.

Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.


Professor Thavolia Glymph
Slaves as Refugees and the Laws of War: Gender, Race, and the origins of human rights law in the U.S. 794.01
Fall 2015

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