Race and Property - Law in Motion 2015

Event Information


from the 18th to the 21st Centuries

May 7-8, 2015

The connections between ownership, soveriegnty, and race have been central features of the United States since its inception. This small academic conference brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines whose work engages the connections between property ownership and the construction of racial categories at various stages in American history.

Interested in attending? Email susan.stearns@northwestern.edu.

Keynote Address: The Annual Law in Motion Lecture

Political Theorist Bonnie Honig Bonnie Honig

Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science,  Professor of Political Science, Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University

“The King’s Three Bodies: Law’s Immortality and Animality in Euripides’ The Bacchae and Melville’s Moby-Dick” 

This paper looks at the legal and political contexts of  Euripides’ Bacchae, and Melville’s Moby-Dick in order to track the relationship in political theory between democratic sovereignty and animality. 

Why and with what effects has sovereignty historically been depicted as beastly (Hobbes’ Leviathan, Machivelli’s lion and fox, The Bacchae’s lion, and Melville’s whale)? How have literary texts revised the animality of sovereignty claimed by political theorists and political theology? How do recent efforts to think about animal rights upend or extend the older animaliities of sovereignty that still frame our imagination of democratic power and rule?

Vail Chapel, 5:30pm, May 7th.


Thursday 3:00 PM Panel: Graduate Student Panel

620 Lincoln Street, rm. 218

Ananda Maria Marin

Ananda is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Psychology.

John Robinson, III

John is a PhD candidate in the department of Sociology. His presentation is entitled "The City as Investment Portfolio: Social Finance and the Changing Racial Politics of Urban Space."

Pilar Margarita Hernández Escontrías

Pilar is a PhD candidate in the department of Anthropology. Her presentation is entitled "Indios of the Spanish Crown: Race and Property in colonial Perú."


Friday 9:00 AM Panel: Race and Property in the 20th and 21st Centuries

620 Lincoln Street, Room 218; Breakfast will begin at 8:30

Tera Agyepong

Assistant Professor of History, Depaul University

Tera Agyepong is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at DePaul University, and interim director of their prelaw concentration. She completed her JD and PhD with the School of Law and Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University in 2014.  Tera is in the process of turning her dissertation, “Boundaries of Innocence: Race, Sex, and the Criminalization of African American Children in Cook County’s Juvenile Justice System, 1899-1945” into a book.


shaundra myers Shaundra Myers

Assistant Professor of English, Northwestern University

Shaundra Myers is Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on 20th- and 21st-century African American narrative, critical race studies, autobiography, citizenship, and the transnational history of African American literature. Her current book manuscript, "Worlds beyond Brown: Race, Embodiment, and the Remapping of Integration," examines how the global itineraries of contemporary African American literature respond to a racial landscape shaped largely by the symbols and narratives that emerged from the convergence of U.S. Cold War strategies and racial integration.


Tracy SteffesTracy Steffes

Associate Professor of History and Education, Brown University.

Tracy Steffes is the author of School, Society, & State: A New Education to Govern Modern America, 1890-1940 (University of Chicago Press, 2012).  She is currently working on a book about the role of state education policies in shaping suburban development and racial inequality across metropolitan Chicago.   




Friday 11:00 AM Panel: Race and Sovereignty in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys

620 Lincoln Street, room 218; Lunch to follow

Andrew R.L. Cayton  Andrew R. L. Cayton

  University Distinguished Professor of History, Miami University

Professor Cayton will deliver the comment on our morning panel. Professor Cayton is the author of numerous works, includingThe Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in    North America, 1500-2000 (Viking, 2005) which he co-wrote with Fred Anderson; Ohio: The History of a People (The Ohio State University Press, 2002); Frontier Indiana (Indiana University Press, 1996); and The Frontier Republic: Ideology and Politics in the Ohio Country, 1780-1825 (Kent State University Press, 1986). From 2011-2012, he served as the president of the Society for the History of the Early American Republic.


Samantha Seeley, University of Richmond  Samantha Seeley

  Assistant Professor of History, University of Richmond

Samantha Seeley (PhD New York University 2014) is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Richmond. Her manuscript-in-progress, “Freedom, Race, and Forced Migration in the Early Republic,” examines projects of population management and the forced removal of free people across the new nation in the three decades after the American Revolution. Her work has been supported by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Newberry Library, the Huntington Library, and the Clements Library, among others.


John Reda  John Reda

  Assistant Professor of History,Illinois State University

John Reda received his BA, MA, and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Illinois State University, where he teaches colonial and early national American history. His book, “From Furs To Farms: The Transformation of the Mississippi Valley, 1762-1825,” is currently under review by Northern Illinois University Press. 


Kim WelchKim Welch

  Assistant Professor of History, West Virginia University

Kim Welch is an assistant professor in the Department of History at West Virginia University.   She is a scholar of race, slavery, and law in the early American South.  Her current book project, Black Litigants: Race, Property, and Personhood in the Heart of Slave Country, 1800-1860, examines trial court records from the Natchez district of Mississippi and Louisiana in which free blacks and slaves sued whites and other African Americans.  



Jack Miller Center and the John Templeton Foundation