States of Insurrection: Race, Resistance, and the Laws of Slavery, 1690-1876


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Political Science


This dissertation shows how resistance to slavery altered the making of law and race, yielding racialized ideas and institutions that survived the abolition of slavery. It explores four critical junctures in South Carolina between 1690 and 1876: The 1739 Stono Uprising, the 1822 Vesey Uprising, the construction of the state penitentiary in 1866, and the 1876 race riots. Institutionally, this study tracks the effects of black resistance on state development, showing how insurrection laws—forged against expressions of black agency—persisted beyond slavery as riot and protest laws. Theoretically, it tracks the making of race through resistance to slavery, showing how whiteness is consolidated through antiblack violence and blackness is stigmatized as a condition of criminality. Taken together, this work offers an account of state and constitutional development and race-making that highlights the agency that freed and enslaved black people have asserted and the reactive development of punitive law.