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Justin Leroy


  • Ph.D., American Studies, New York University, 2014
  • M.A., Humanities and Social Thought, New York University, 2009
  • B.A., Film Studies, Wesleyan University, 2005


I work on the nineteenth-century United States, specializing in the history of slavery and emancipation. Prior to joining UC Davis in 2016, I was a postdoctoral fellow in global American studies at Harvard University. I recently co-edited the collection Histories of Racial Capitalism, and am finishing my first monograph, titled The Lowest Freedom: Slave Emancipation, Racial Capitalism, and the Black Radical Tradition

Research Focus

19th-century United States; African American history; intellectual history; slavery and abolition; the Atlantic World; comparative histories of empire; the history of capitalism.

Selected Publications

Freedom’s Limit: Racial Capitalism and the Afterlives of Slavery, Columbia University Press (forthcoming)

Histories of Racial Capitalism, Columbia University Press

“Black History in Occupied Territory: On the Entanglements of Slavery and Settler Colonialism,” Theory and Event 19.4

“Interchange: Globalization and Its Limits between the American Revolution and the Civil War,” Journal of American History 103.2

The Question of Recovery?: Slavery, Freedom, and the Archive, Social Text 125

“Bonded Life: Technologies of Racial Finance from Slave Insurance to Philanthrocapital.” Cultural Studies 29.5-6 (with Zenia Kish)


I regularly teach courses in African American history, Atlantic slavery, U.S. intellectual history, the history of race, and the history of capitalism.

Winter 2021:

  • HIS 177A: African American History to 1877
  • HIS 102L: Slavery and Its Afterlives


Spring 2021:

  • HIS 14: History of Global Capitalism
  • HIS 177B: African American History from 1877


Society of American Historians, Allan Nevins Prize for Best Dissertation in American History (2015)

American Studies Association, Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize for Best Dissertation (finalist) (2014)

Harvard University, Postdoctoral Fellowship in Global American Studies (2014-2016)

Princeton University, Center for African American Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) (2014-2015)

University of Virginia, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) (2014-2016)

University of Chicago, Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) (2014-2016)