About Us

The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ) is a scholarly research center with a public humanities mission. Recognizing that racial and chattel slavery were central to the historical formation of the Americas and the modern world, the CSSJ creates a space for the interdisciplinary study of the historical forms of slavery while also examining how these legacies shape our contemporary world.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, the Center's work was organized around the following research clusters and projects:


Human TraffickingThis project explores contemporary forms of human bondage and engages in public programming around this issue.

A Comparative History of Slavery. This is a collaborative project between CSSJ and Harvard University, focused on creating a network of scholars from a variety of national and international institutions focused on the history of slavery.

Investigating the American Criminal Justice System. This project focuses on prisons and relations between the police and communities of color.

Freedom Archive. This project creates an inventory of materials in Brown University Library's Special Collections related to slavery and abolition to help scholars more easily access these items.

Race, Health, Medicine, and Social Justice: This cluster explores the history and persistence of structural racism in biomedicine as it intersects with economic and social conditions. We focus on reimagining the knowledge we produce about race and health from a social justice perspective.

Education and RaceThis project focuses on questions that explore the implications for policy and pedagogy when we deepen our knowledge about the intersections between race, racism, schools and other forms of social inequality.


Global Curatorial Project. This exhibition and curatorial project presents both the global interconnectedness of Atlantic slavery and the slave trade, as well as illuminates an alternative view about the history of our global modernity.

Slave Trade Film Project with Filmmaker Stanley Nelson. This research and workshop project aims to support the development of a multi-part documentary series on the Atlantic slave trade. Creating a New World: The Transatlantic Slave Trade will chart the economic and human cost of the slave trade across the Atlantic basin, underscoring how this expansive system of trade, violence, and profit built the modern world.

Civil Rights Movement Initiative. In 2015, the CSSJ developed a unique initiative for Hope High School students called the Civil Rights Movement Initiative. This initiative aims to help high school students understand the Civil Rights Movement as something more than events of the past, and as a bridge to understanding the present. Students meet for weekly classes at the Center and participate in a week-long visit to the South, visiting important sites in the Southern Freedom Movement and meeting with activists.

Heimark Artist-in-Residence. The Heimark Artist in Residence program brings to campus musicians, poets, visual artists, and performers whose work grapples with the legacies of slavery on our world today.

Seminar Series

CSSJ Advanced Knowledge Working Group. The CSSJ Advanced Knowledge Working Group is a seminar for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other scholars affiliated with or working alongside the CSSJ to come together to think critically about the legacies of slavery and boundaries of freedom across time and space. The group meets for two hours every two weeks on Thursdays to discuss assigned readings and/or workshop dissertation/book chapters, journal articles, conference papers, and other works-in-progress. Throughout the academic year, this group will also host several locally-based, emerging scholars and artists to share their current research and projects with the larger campus community.

Carceral State Reading GroupThe Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice facilitates a year-long reading group which focuses on examining the Carceral State. The reading group is a collaboration between various sectors of the Providence community and the CSSJ at Brown University. Meetings are held twice monthly to discuss issues of imprisonment, incarceration, captivity, criminalization and policing historically and in the present day.