Rebecca Scott

John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of Law


Rebecca J. Scott is visiting Duke Law in the spring 2017 semester from the University of Michigan, where she is the Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Law. As the John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History she is teaching a seminar titled The Law in Slavery and Freedom.

At Michigan Law, Professor Scott 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. She is the current president of the American Society for Legal History (2015–2017). 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 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, and the 2013 Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies and the Institut Français d'Amerique.

Among Professor Scott's recent articles are "Social Facts, Legal Fictions, and the Attribution of Slave Status: The Puzzle of Prescription," Law and History Review 35 (January 2017); "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 Plessy Challenge," 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 has held a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

See Professor Scott’s homepage.