Lead Scholar: Mitra Sharafi
Mitra Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia. She holds law degrees from Cambridge and Oxford (the UK equivalent of a JD and LLM) and a doctorate in history from Princeton. Sharafi's book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2014) won the Law and Society Association's J. Willard Hurst Prize for socio-legal history in 2015. The book explores the legal culture of the Parsis or Zoroastrians of British India, an ethno-religious minority that was unusually invested in colonial law: http://hosted.law.wisc.edu/wordpress/sharafi/
Currently, Sharafi is at work on her second book project. "Fear of the False: Medical Jurisprudence in Colonial India" examines colonial anxieties about dissimulation that were reflected in the work of medico-legal experts like the Chemical Examiners and Imperial Serologist. She is also writing an article on abortion during the Raj, and another on South Asian and West African law students who were expelled from London's Inns of Court around the turn of the twentieth century. 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. In spring 2017, she will be a fellow at the UW Institute for Research in the Humanities.
Her research interests include South Asian legal history; the history of the legal profession; the history of colonialism; the history of contract law; law and society; law and religion; law and minorities; legal consciousness; legal pluralism; and the history of science and medicine.
Daniel Ernst joined the Georgetown faculty in the 1988-89 academic year. He is the author of Lawyers Against Labor (1995), for which he received the Littleton Griswold Award of the American Historical Association and co-editor of Total War and the Law (2003). In 1996, he was a Fulbright Research Scholar at the National Library of New Zealand, and in 1998 he was the Jack and Margaret Sweet Visiting Professor of History at Michigan State University. He was a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow during the 2003-04 academic year. From 2006 to 2010, he was co-editor of "Studies in Legal History," a book series sponsored by the American Society for Legal History and the University of North Carolina Press. He teaches courses in American Legal History and Property.
Bianca Premo is interested in a wide range of topics in Latin American history. Her most recent book, The Enlightenment on Trial: Ordinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire is a comparative study that reveals how ordinary, often illiterate litigants made law modern in the courtrooms of vast regions of the 18th-century Spanish empire. Her first book, Children of the Father King: Youth, Authority and Legal Minority in Colonial Lima (2005), reveals how Lima’s children were socialized into colonial hierarchies and how adults viewed and practiced their roles as authority figures over children in a legal culture that favored elite fathers and distant kings. She also co-edited Raising an Empire (2007) a volume of historical scholarship about children and childhood in early modern Spain, Portugal and colonial Latin America. She has authored over a dozen articles and multiple book chapters on colonial Peru and Mexico and early modern Spain in the fields of legal studies, ethnohistory, gender and family history and Atlantic history. Her next research projects involve delving deeper into the history of childhood and gender and expanding her research into the twentieth century.
Professor Premo has a lot of fun exposing undergraduate students to Latin America's dynamic past in large introductory courses, as well as offering specialized upper-level courses on themes such as gender and colonial Latin American society. At the graduate level, she shares with students her longstanding fascination with everyday forms of colonial rule, along with broader interests in law, colonial and postcolonial theory, and the eighteenth-century Atlantic World.
Daniel Sharfstein’s scholarship focuses on the legal history of race in the United States. He received a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship to support his work on a book-length exploration of post Reconstruction America, "Thunder in the Mountains: The Clash of Two American Legends, Oliver Otis Howard and Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce." His book, The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White (Penguin Press, 2011), won the 2012 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for excellence in non-fiction as well as the Law & Society Association’s 2012 James Willard Hurst Jr. Prize for socio-legal history, the William Nelson Cromwell Book Prize from the American Society for Legal History, and the Chancellor’s Award for Research from Vanderbilt. His article, “Atrocity, Entitlement, and Personhood in Property” won the Association of American Law Schools 2011 Scholarly Papers Competition. His writing has also appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, New York Times, Slate, Washington Post, Economist, American Prospect and Legal Affairs. For his research on civil rights and the color line in the American South, Professor Sharfstein was awarded an Alphonse Fletcher, Sr., fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and he was the inaugural recipient of the Raoul Berger Visiting Fellowship in Legal History at Harvard Law School. He has twice won the Law School’s Hall-Hartman Outstanding Professor Award. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, he was a law clerk for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Judge Rya W. Zobel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He was also an associate at Strumwasser & Woocher, a public interest law firm in Santa Monica, California. Prior to law school, he worked as a journalist in West Africa and Southern California. Before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty in fall 2007, he was a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at New York University School of Law. Professor Sharfstein, who holds a secondary appointment in Vanderbilt University's College of Arts and Science as a professor of history, is in the inaugural cohort of Chancellor Faculty Fellows.
Karl Shoemaker is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is currently a Romnes Faculty Fellow. He holds appointments in the History Department, the Legal Studies Program, the Sociology Department and the Law School. He received a B.S. from Liberty University, where he majored in Business and baseball. Prior to law school, he played professional baseball in Italy, and rarely misses an opportunity to drop that fact into conversations. He received a JD from Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, and a Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. Shoemaker was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Miami Law School in 2007, and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton in 2006-2007. He has served as Director of UW-Madison’s Medieval Studies Program since 2011. He specializes in medieval legal history, working in both English common law and continental sources. He is currently researching the devil’s medieval legal career, and has published several articles that research. More recently, he has started to study the legal problems associated with the exercise by non-Christians of political authority over Christians in the medieval and early modern eras. Shoemaker authored Sanctuary and Crime in the Middle Ages, 400-1500 (Fordham University Press, 2011), which was awarded the 2015 John Nicholas Brown Prize by the Medieval Academy of America. He is an advisor to the American Bar Association, and also serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Law, Culture, and Humanities. Shoemaker has participated several times in the J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute for Legal History hosted in Madison, and in 2013 was co-chair of the ASLH Program Committee (Miami). He is currently on the Board of Directors of the ASLH.
Barbara Young Welke is Professor of History and Law, Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota. 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).