Matthew Axtell received his J.D. from the University of Virginia and is working towards his Ph.D. in History at Princeton University. His dissertation, supervised by Hendrik Hartog, is titled "American Steamboat Gothic: Law, Commerce, and Collective Action in the U.S. Aquatic West, 1832-1868." In Axtell's words, the project
analyzes the papers of steamboat captains, river laborers, attorneys, and court officers to tell how the bustling commercial nature of the 19th century steamboat economy eventually joined with its interstate nature, its undercapitalization, its egalitarian spirit, and its competitiveness to upset balances of power on Ohio River waterfronts in the mid-1800s, blurring the line between debtors and creditors, buyers and sellers, and masters and slaves.In general, he is interested in "how legal concepts and actors have shaped (and have been shaped by) markets, property relations, geography, and economic reasoning in U.S. History."
Erin Braatz is a doctoral student in the Law & Society program at NYU, where she works with David Garland, Sally Merry and Fred Cooper. In her words, her dissertation
examines British colonial legality in the Gold Coast (modern day Ghana) from 1844 to 1957. It focuses on British criminal law and penal regimes and examines how those institutions were transformed as they were transferred to the Gold Coast. These transformations include both the colonial government’s adaptation and alteration of British institutions to meet its own unique needs and the efforts of indigenous rulers to transform these institutions to align them with indigenous beliefs and practices. More broadly speaking, my work considers colonial legality as an agent of change, and examines how it was used to alter African societies.
Congratulations to Matthew Axtell and Erin Braatz! And stay tuned for more fellowship announcements...