Monday, November 22, 2021

John Phillip Reid Book Award to de la Fuente & Gross for "Becoming Free, Becoming Black"

The American Society for Legal History awards the John Phillip Reid Book Award "for the best monograph by a mid-career or senior scholar, published in English in any of the fields defined broadly as Anglo-American legal history." This year's winner is the co-author team Alejandro de la Fuente (Harvard University) and Ariela J. Gross (University of Southern California) for Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana (Cambridge University Press, 2020). The citation:

Entering into a terrain of longstanding scholarly debate, Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela Gross’s Becoming Free, Becoming Back (Cambridge University Press, 2020) traces the winding path from black slavery to black citizenship in Cuba, Louisiana, and Virginia. It avoids traditional claims of moral superiority for Latin American systems of bondage. Instead, it shows how in all three societies race became a cornerstone for constructing the normative logic of slavery. With remarkable nuance, their book underscores the ways Iberian legal customs of manumission did make a difference by allowing for the creation of a free black population. Beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and persuasively argued, it impressively deploys cultural history— emphasizing context and contingency—to undermine the seeming historical inevitability of citizenship becoming closely intertwined with whiteness. This is comparative history at its finest.

Congratulations to both authors!

-- Karen Tani