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Frances Bell

Ph.D. Student (ABD)

Advisor: Dr. Hannah Rosen
email: [[frbell]]
Current Research: Atlantic World, Diaspora and Migration, Slavery and Abolition


Frances Bell is historian of the revolutionary Atlantic, focusing on the legalities of slavery and mobility in the era of the Haitian Revolution. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Glasgow. Her dissertation, titled "'In a State of Flight': The Struggle for Freedom in the Haitian Diaspora, 1791-1830," examines the legal and social interactions of several thousand people who were taken as slaves from revolutionary Haiti to the United States by enslavers fleeing the revolution. Following their journeys from revolutionary Haiti to the eastern seaboard of the United States, this project examines how enslaved Haitians acquired legal knowledge and formed social networks as they sought out different forms of legal and extra-legal freedom. Her work highlights the precarity of legal freedom in the revolutionary Atlantic, arguing that individual struggles over mobility were intrinsic to the legalities of slavery.

Frances’s work has been supported by the Omohundro Institute, the Folger Institute, and the Reves Center for International Studies, and has been published in the Selected Papers of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850. She is currently a Predoctoral Fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African-American and African Studies.