I teach history and law at the University of Michigan.
My research and writing focus on analyzing slavery, emancipation, and struggles for equal rights, both in Latin America and in the United States. Jean M. Hébrard and I have recently co-authored Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation, released in February of 2012 by Harvard University Press. The book traces one family across five generations and three continents, into slavery and then back to freedom, exploring some of the forces that shaped the lives of people of color during the nineteenth century, and the ways in which individuals confronted those forces.
My articles have also examined conflicts over the content of legal freedom. These include “Paper Thin: Freedom and Re-enslavement in the Diaspora of the Haitian Revolution” (Law and History Review, November 2011); “Public Rights, Social Equality, and the Conceptual Roots of the Plessy Challenge” (Michigan Law Review, March 2008); and “Reclaiming Gregoria’s Mule: The Meanings of Freedom in the Arimao and Caunao Valleys, Cienfuegos, Cuba,”(Past and Present, 2001).
Research in archives in Cuba, Spain and in the United States underlies my earlier books, including Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery (Harvard University Press, 2005) and Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor (Princeton University Press, 1985).