Emily Owens will joins the history department and the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice as an historian of US slavery and the history of gender and sexuality. Her current book project, Fantasies of Consent: Sex, Affect, and Commerce in 19th Century New Orleans, historicizes the culture and economy of the antebellum New Orleans sex market. Its central question is: “How do we write the history of black female sexuality?” and it targets the sex trade under slavery to approach that question. The book argues that the primary objects for sale in the sex market of antebellum New Orleans were not sex, itself, but rather a set of feeling-experiences attached to those sex acts. Through close readings of Louisiana State Supreme Court cases and Louisiana law, as well as new research in lower court records, newspapers, and manuscript sources, Fantasies of Consent unpacks the kinds of pleasures that women of color were called upon to produce for white men within the sex economy, and the pleasures they themselves were able to inherit. The book argues that both sets of pleasures emerged from and were therefore sutured to the violence of the market, demonstrating the simultaneity of pleasure and violence in the story of sex and slavery.
As a faculty fellow at the CSSJ, Owens will teach a first year seminar on the history of American slavery, titled “Slavery, Race and Racism” in Fall 2016.
In 2015-2016, Owens was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, MA. She received her Ph.D. in African American Studies, with a primary field in history, from Harvard in 2015. Contact Prof. Owens here.
Elena Shih is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown, and former Postdoctoral Fellow in International Studies at the Watson Institute for International Studies. Shih's first book, The Price of Freedom: Moral and Political Economies of Global Human Trafficking Rescue, is based on 40 months of ethnographic participant observation on the transnational movement to combat human trafficking in China, Thailand, and the U.S. This research has received funding from the Ford Foundation, Social Science Research Council, American Sociological Association, and Fulbright Program. Her work has been published in numerous edited volumes and in journals including: The Anti-Trafficking Review, Contexts, Social Politics, and Sociological Perspectives. Shih received her PhD in Sociology from UCLA, and a BA in Asian Studies from Pomona College. She is leading the Center’s research cluster on human trafficking. Contact Prof. Shih here.
Seth Rockman is a specialist in Revolutionary and Early Republic United States history, with a focus on the relationship of slavery and capitalism in American economic and social development. The histories of race, labor, and social welfare are central to his research. Rockman supervised undergraduate research for the University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice and he currently serves on CSSJ’s faculty advisory committee. He is now conducting research on the relationship of Northern manufacturing to the plantation economies of the South. As a Faculty Fellow, he will continue writing “Plantation Goods and the National Economy of Slavery,” a book-length study of the hoes, hats, shoes, shovels, textiles, and even whips manufactured in the North for use on slave plantations in the American South. The project contributes to the rethinking of the boundaries of slavery and freedom in the nineteenth-century United States, especially as the interregional trade in plantation goods situated the divergent lives of wage-earning factory hands in Rhode Island and enslaved field hands in Mississippi in the same frame. Contact Prof. Rockman here.