Benjamin N. Lawrance

Benjamin N. Lawrance is a professor of international studies, history, and anthropology at the Rochester Institute of Technology and author of Amistad’s Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling.

Listed in: History · African Studies · Anthropology · Gender Studies · African Child · Slavery and Slave Trade · Law · Women’s Studies · Legal History · African History




Marriage by Force? · Contestation over Consent and Coercion in Africa
Edited by Annie Bunting, Benjamin N. Lawrance, and Richard L. Roberts · Foreword by Doris Buss · Afterword by Emily S. Burrill

Despite international human rights decrees condemning it, marriage by force persists to this day. In this volume, the editors bring together legal scholars, anthropologists, historians, and development workers to explore the range of forced marriage practices in sub-Saharan Africa. The result is a masterful presentation of new perspectives on the practice.

“This fascinating collection addresses the important problem of determining what forced marriage is through the perspective of historical studies of marriage from precolonial through postcolonial eras in Africa. The essays destabilize any idea that there is a simple dichotomy between forced and consensual marriage, and show that calling forms of coerced marriage customary or traditional ignores the extent to which tradition is constantly subject to change.”

Sally Engle Merry, Silver Professor of Anthropology, New York University, and author of Gender Violence: A Cultural Perspective




African Asylum at a Crossroads · Activism, Expert Testimony, and Refugee Rights
Edited by Iris Berger, Tricia Redeker Hepner, Benjamin N. Lawrance, Joanna T. Tague, and Meredith Terretta · Foreword by Penelope Andrews · Afterword by Fallou Ngom

African Asylum at a Crossroads: Activism, Expert Testimony, and Refugee Rights examines the emerging trend of requests for expert opinions in asylum hearings or refugee status determinations. This is the first book to explore the role of court-based expertise in relation to African asylum cases and the first to establish a rigorous analytical framework for interpreting the effects of this new reliance on expert testimony.

“This is a first-rate collection of original essays focused on asylum jurisprudence involving African refugees…. These essays are provocative, well documented, and eloquent. The authors examine a subject that has been largely overlooked: the extraordinarily significant role of experts in legal processes…. The impressive contributors are anthropologists, historians, and legal scholars who offer provocative remarks about cases including many in which they served as expert witnesses.”

Alison Dundes Renteln, professor of political science and anthropology at the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and Law, University of Southern California




Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake · Law and the Experience of Women and Children in Africa
Edited by Benjamin N. Lawrance and Richard L. Roberts

Women and children have been bartered, pawned, bought, and sold within and beyond Africa for longer than records have existed. This important collection examines the ways trafficking in women and children has changed from the aftermath of the “end of slavery” in Africa from the late nineteenth century to the present. The formal abolition of the slave trade and slavery did not end the demand for servile women and children.

“This is a paradigm-shifting volume…a ground-breaking book with potential to change not only academic theory but also legal practice on the enslavement and trafficking of African women and children.”

Benedetta Rossi, Slavery & Abolition