Richard L. Roberts

Richard L. Roberts directs the Center for African Studies at Stanford University. His books include Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake: The Experience of Women and Children in Africa, edited with Benjamin N. Lawrance.

Listed in: History · African Studies · Children's Studies · Anthropology · Gender Studies · African Child · Social History · 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




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




Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa reveals the ways in which domestic space and domestic relationships take on different meanings in African contexts that extend the boundaries of family obligation, kinship, and dependency. The term domestic violence encompasses kin-based violence, marriage-based violence, gender-based violence, as well as violence between patrons and clients who shared the same domestic space.

“This is a fascinating and extensively researched exploration of a range of forms of gender-based violence that combines historical, anthropological, and legal perspectives. One of its strengths is the way it juxtaposes studies of the legal regulation of violence in the colonial era with that of the postcolonial human rights era.”

Sally Engle Merry, author of Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Law into Local Justice