Spooner Alayrac, Amelia

Field: Modern Europe; Advisor: Saada; Year: 2017

I specialize in the social and political history of law in the French empire. I have broad interests in historical sociology and geography, comparative and transimperial histories, and theorizations of racial capitalism and social reproduction.
My dissertation, tentatively titled “Formally Free: Regulating Labor After Slavery in the French Empire, 1848–1914,” looks at the legal and extralegal project, led by state and private actors, to define and manage work and workers in Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Réunion Island after the second abolition of slavery. The project examines the constant negotiations and contestations between administrators, jurists, and employers formulating regulations and the workers to whom they ostensibly applied. I account for unevenness in how labor law devised in the metropole was applied and adapted, and in many cases contravened and abandoned, in these four post-slavery contexts. My research seeks to uncover how the regulation of work after slavery produced both marketable commodities and particular relations of domination: racialized, gendered, and classed divisions of labor across French colonial space.
Before returning to New York for graduate school, I lived in Paris for seven years, where I taught history and geography at a French high school and academic English for the social sciences at the University of Paris-Dauphine.
Prospective students and any others interested in my work are warmly invited to be in touch.