2015 Hurst Institute Guest Scholars

Lead Scholar: Barbara Young Welke

Barbara Young Welke is Professor of History and Law, Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota. This is Barbara’s fourth time leading the Hurst Institute (2007, 2009, 2011, 2015). Welke’s Ph.D. in History is from the University of Chicago (1995); her J. D. is from the University of Michigan Law School (1983). She teaches and writes in the field of 19th and 20th century U. S. history and American legal history. Her publications include Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century United States (Cambridge University Press 2010), Recasting American Liberty: Gender, Race, Law and the Railroad Revolution, 1865-1920 (Cambridge University Press 2001)(AHA’s Littleton-Griswold Prize), and "When All the Women Were White, and All the Blacks Were Men: Gender, Class, Race, and the Road to Plessy, 1855-1914," Law & History Review (Fall 1995)(ASLH Surrency Prize). She is currently working on several book projects relating to the history of product liability and has published two pieces relating to that research: “The Cowboy Suit Tragedy: Spreading Risk, Owning Hazard in the Modern American Consumer Economy,” Journal of American History (June 2014) of which you can also listen to a JAH podcast interview (June 2014) related to the research, and a play “Owning Hazard: A Tragedy,” University of California Irvine Law Review 1:3 (2011).

Guest Scholars

Constance Backhouse is a Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, where she holds the positions of Distinguished University Professor and University Research Chair. She has a B.A. (University of Manitoba), a J.D. (Osgoode Hall), an LL.M. (Harvard) and four honorary doctorates. She teaches and researches in the areas of legal history, criminal law, human rights, feminism, and critical race theory.

She is currently writing a biography of the retired Supreme Court of Canada judge, the Hon. Madam Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé. Her previous books include Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and the Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada (awarded the 1992 Willard Hurst Prize in American Legal History); Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada,1900-1950 (awarded the 2002 Joseph Brant Award as the “best book in multicultural history published within the past three years” by the Ontario Historical Society); The Heiress vs the Establishment: Mrs. Campbell’s Campaign for Legal Justice (co-authored with Nancy L. Backhouse and short-listed in 2004 for the Toronto Book Award); and Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900-1975 (awarded the Canadian Law and Society Association Book Prize).

She has received the Bora Laskin Human Rights Fellowship (1999), was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2004), and received the Jules and Gabrielle Léger Fellowship (2006), the Trudeau Fellowship (2006), and the Ramon Hnatyshun Award for “outstanding contribution to law and legal research in Canada” from the Canadian Bar Association (2006). She has received the Killam Prize for Social Sciences and the Gold Medal for Research from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is a Member of the Order of Canada (2008) and the Order of Ontario (2010).

She has served as the President of the American Society for Legal History (2009-2011).


Nicholas R. Parrillo
is a Professor of Law at Yale, with a secondary appointment as Professor of History. He teaches administrative law, legislation, remedies, and American legal history, as well as seminars on government bureaucracy. His book, Against the Profit Motive: The Salary Revolution in American Government, 1780-1940 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), received the Hurst Prize of the Law and Society Association for the year’s best book on socio-legal history, as well as the Annual Scholarship Award of the ABA Section on Administrative Law for the year's best book or article on administrative law. Parrillo’s published articles include “Leviathan and Interpretive Revolution: The Administrative State, the Judiciary, and the Rise of Legislative History, 1890-1950,” which appeared in the Yale Law Journal in 2013 and received the Cromwell Article Prize of the American Society for Legal History for the year’s best article on American legal history by an early-career scholar.


Dylan C. Penningroth specializes in African American history and in U.S. socio-legal history. He is Professor of History at Northwestern and a Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation. His first book, The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South (2003), won the Avery Craven Prize from the Organization of American Historians. His articles have appeared in the Journal of American History, the American Historical Review, and the Journal of Family History. Penningroth has held fellowships from the NEH, NSF, and the Stanford Humanities Center, and has been recognized by the Organization of American Historians’ Huggins-Quarles committee, a Weinberg College Teaching Award, a McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence, and a MacArthur Foundation fellowship.

He received a B.A. (1993) from Yale University and an M.A. (1996) and a Ph.D. (2000) from Johns Hopkins University. From 1999 to 2002 he was Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia. Beginning in fall 2015 he will be Professor of Law and History at the University of California at Berkeley.

Penningroth is currently working on a study of African Americans' encounter with law from the Civil War to the modern civil rights movement. Combining legal and social history, the study explores the practical meaning of legal rights for black life. His next project is a study of the legacy of slavery in colonial Ghana.


Bhavani Raman is an Associate Professor at the History Department of the University of Toronto. Her reserach interests are in colonial legal history, state formation, translation and textual practice. Her first book, Document Raj: Scribes and Writing in Early Colonial South India (Chicago University Press 2012 and Permanent Black, India, 2015), studied the ways in which colonial paperwork reorganized orientation to writing in Southern India's Tamil speaking region. Her research is on colonial frontier jurisdictions in South and South East Asia. Her research has been supported by Social Science Research Council and the American Institute of Indian Studies.


Mitra Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She holds law degrees from Cambridge (BA 1998) and Oxford (BCL 1999) and history degrees from McGill (BA 1996) and Princeton (PhD 2006). She has taught at the UW Law School and Legal Studies program since 2007, and is affiliated with the UW History Department and Center for South Asia. Sharafi’s research interests include South Asian legal history; the history of colonialism; the history of the legal profession; law and religion; law and minorities; legal pluralism; and the history of science and medicine. Her book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2014) was awarded the Law and Society Association’s 2015 J. Willard Hurst Prize for socio-legal history. She is currently working on a book-length project on forensic experts in colonial India, as well as articles on abortion in colonial India and on non-Europeans from across the British Empire who studied law at London’s Inns of Court during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Sharafi's research has been recognized and supported by the Institute for Advanced Study, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and others. Since 2010, her South Asian Legal History Resources website has shared research guides and other tools for the historical study of law in South Asia: http://blogs.law.wisc.edu/wordpress/sharafi/


Return to Hurst Institute Homepage

Log in to edit