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Research on Slavery and Prison Policies Earns Professor Taja-Nia Henderson a Hurst Summer Institute Fellowship

May 28, 2013 – 

Taja-Nia Y. Henderson, Assistant Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, has been selected as one of 12 distinguished rising scholars from around the world to participate in the J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History. Henderson was recently awarded a Ph.D. in American History from New York University, from which she also earned an M.A. and J.D.

The biennial Hurst Summer Institute is sponsored by the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School in conjunction with the American Society for Legal History. The program is led by prominent legal history scholars and organized to assist junior scholars from law, history and other disciplines in pursuing research in legal history. 

Professor Henderson’s teaching and research interests are in slavery, social control organizations, civil and political disabilities associated with criminal convictions, and property. Her dissertation, “Crucibles of Discontent: Penal Practice in the Shadow of Slavery,” examines the emergence of Virginia’s state prison – the first penitentiary in the slaveholding American south – and its relationship to the institution of racial slavery in the state. Her current research is focused on the Reconstruction Congress’ adjudication of petitions to rescind political disabilities imposed pursuant to Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment as punishment for persons “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

After graduating from law school, Henderson served as the Derrick Bell Teaching Fellow in constitutional law at NYU School of Law and also clerked for the Hon. Consuelo B. Marshall, U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Before joining the Rutgers faculty, she was an associate in the litigation practice group of Arnold & Porter LLP in New York, where her practice included complex commercial litigation and pro bono civil rights advocacy. Her scholarship has appeared, or is forthcoming, in the N.Y.U. Law Review, Lewis & Clark Law Review, Columbia Journal of Race & Law, the Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class, and the Law & History Review.