I specialize in Modern European History, with an emphasis on France and the French Empire, gender and sexuality, and intellectual, cultural, and legal History. My research and teaching range across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, examining questions of sex and citizenship, colonialism and postcolonial migration, as well as critical theory and historical methodology. I welcome inquiries from graduate students interested in these fields.
I am currently working on The Intimate Life of International Law: Children and Development After Decolonization, which examines how population movements tested the boundaries of postcolonial sovereignty by focusing on international family law conflicts. Taking the case of the children of binational couples as a point of departure, I examine postwar transformations in kinship, women and children’s rights, feminism, and global legal orders in a shared analytical frame. This work grows out of my recent book Sex, Law, and Sovereignty in French Algeria, 1830-1930 (Cornell University Press, 2019), which showed how colonial law framed Algerian religious difference as a form of sexual difference and how Algerians worked within and against this legal frame. Progressively detached from land, the French colonial construction of Muslim law was bound to the bodies of Algerian persons and their families. This legal genealogy of French Algeria elucidates why “the Muslim question” became a sexual question– and why it remains one, still today. I also publish regularly on questions of historical theory and methodology.
My work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, the School of Historical Studies and the School of Social Science at Institute for Advanced Study, and the Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women at Brown University. Before coming to Rutgers, I taught at Harvard and Columbia. And I have held visiting professorships at the Sorbonne, Université de Paris-8, and the Ecole normale supérieure.
I also co-directed a research project on Ethical Subjects: Moralities, Laws, Histories (2015-2017) with my colleague, Seth Koven. Housed by the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, it received generous funding from the Mellon Foundation as a Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Cultures.