Research Focus Group Workshop: Rehearsals for Reparations

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Giuliana Perrone

May 12, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

4065 HSSB
HSSB, UC Santa Barbara

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Giuliana Perrone - Rehearsals for Reparations - Legal Humanities Event

In this workshop, the Legal Humanities RFG will discuss Giuliana Perrone’s new paper, “Rehearsals for Reparations.” This pre-circulated paper considers a set of lawsuits in which emancipated people sued to have their enslavers’ bequests to them honored. It contends that we should see these suits as contests over reparations. By exploring this unappreciated history of reparations, this article argues that enslavers themselves believed reparations were due and were willing to pay them, there was a general agreement between enslaved and enslaver about the form reparations should take, and similar understanding that they should be generational. The article further suggests the promise of further inquiry into historical testamentary records. Such a novel archive would add to contemporary arguments in favor of reparations by identifying how widespread the effort to atone for slavery through restitution truly was.

Giuliana Perrone is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she specializes in the history of North American Slavery and Abolition. Her first book, Nothing More than Freedom: The Failure of Abolition in American Law will be published by Cambridge University Press in May 2023.

To receive the pre-circulated paper, email Giuliana Perrone at

Sponsored by the IHC’s Legal Humanities and Slavery, Captivity, and the Meaning of Freedom Research Focus Groups

Image credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

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