Distinguished Professor of Law
Ariela Gross is a Distinguished Professor at UCLA School of Law and teaches Contract Law, Constitutional Law, Enslavement and Racialization in U.S. Legal History, as well as other courses on race and legal history. She is a legal historian whose scholarship focuses on the ways race, racism, and slavery have shaped law, politics, and culture in the Americas.
Gross is the author of Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana, with Alejandro de la Fuente (Cambridge UP 2020), winner of the Order of the Coif award for the best book in law, and the John Philip Reid Book Award for the best book in legal history by a mid-career or senior scholar. Her book What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America (Harvard UP 2008), was co-winner of the James Willard Hurst Prize from the Law and Society Association for the best book in sociolegal history, and the Lillian Smith Award for the best book on the U.S. South and the struggle for racial justice, the American Political Science Association’s Best Book on Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, and a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Gross is also the author of Double Character: Slavery and Mastery in the Antebellum Southern Courtroom (Princeton UP 2000), and numerous articles and essays.
A graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School, Gross received her PhD in History from Stanford University. She came to UCLA Law from USC Gould School of Law, where she was the John B. and Alice R. Sharp Professor of Law and History, and Co-Director of the Center for Law, History, and Culture.
She has been a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, Tel Aviv University, Kyoto University, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and the University of Paris, and a recipient of fellowships from the J. Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Huntington Library. She is working on a new book, Erasing Slavery: How Stories about Slavery and Freedom Shape Battles over The Constitution.
- Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana (with Alejandro de la Fuente). Cambridge University Press (2020; ppb. Jan. 2022).
- What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America. Harvard Univ. Press (2008; ppb. 2010).
- Double Character: Slavery and Mastery in the Antebellum Southern Courtroom. Princeton University Press (2000; ppb. Univ. of Ga. Press, 2006).
Articles And Book Chapters
- Of Coercion, ‘Consent,’ and Concubines: The Regulation and Litigation of Interracial Sex And Marriage under Slavery in the U.S. South,” in Slavery and Sexual Violence (edited by Martha S. Jones and Hannah Rosen, forthcoming 2023).
- Making Race in the Law during the Era of Slavery,” in The Oxford Handbook of Race and The Law (edited by Guy-Uriel Charles and Aziza Ahmed). Oxford Univ. Press (2022).
- The Precarious Status of Free People of Color on the Move in Antebellum Virginia, in The Experience of Mobility, (with Alejandro de la Fuente) (edited by Claudia Moatti and Emmanuelle Chevreau , Éditions Ausonius, Paris, 2021).
- Archives of the Dispossessed: Mourning, Memory, and Metahistory. English Language Notes 59:1 (April 2021), 219-221. Full Text
- Introduction: Celebrating Bob Gordon’s Taming the Past (Susanna L. Blumenthal), 70 Stan. L. Rev. 1623 (May 2018).
- Bob Gordon’s Critical Historicism and The Pursuit of Justice, 70 Stan. L. Rev. 1633 (May2018).
- A Grassroots History of Colorblind Conservative Constitutionalism, Law & Social Inquiry (January 2018).
- Editor, Symposium: “A Crime Against Humanity”: Slavery and The Boundaries of Legality, Past and Present, 35 Law & History Rev. 1 (February 2017).
- “Introduction: ‘A Crime Against Humanity’: Slavery and The Boundaries of Legality, Past and Present, 35 Law & History Rev. 1 (February 2017).
- The New Abolitionism, International Law, and The Memory of Slavery (with Chantal Thomas), Law & History Rev. (February 2017). reprinted in A Stain on Our Past: Slavery And Memory, Johann Michel & Abdoulaye Gueye, eds. (Africa World Press, 2018).
- Boundary Crossings: Slavery and Freedom, Legality and Illegality, Past and Present (with Alejandro de la Fuente), 35 Law & History Rev. (February 2017).
- Go Set a Watchman and the Limits of White Liberalism, 47 Cumberland L. Rev. 57. (2016-2017) (symposium).
- Article IV, Section 2, in (with David R. Upham), in The Interactive Constitution, National Constitution Center (2016). Full Text
- Laws of Blood: The Invisible Common Sense of Race in U.S. Courtrooms, in Dismantling the Race Myth (Tokyo Univ. Press, 2016).
- On Race and Law, in Printed Matter: Online Journal of the Centro Primo Levi (May, 2015).
- Manumission and Freedom in the Americas: Cuba, Louisiana, Virginia, 1500s-1700s (with Alejandro de la Fuente, Quaderni Storici) (Jan. 2015). pp. 15-48.
- Never Forget? Jewish Identity, History, Memory, Slavery, and The Constitution, in Symposium: People of the Book, 16 Rutgers J. of Law & Religion 294 (2015).
- Slaves, Free Blacks and Race in the Legal Regimes of Cuba, Louisiana, and Virginia: A Comparison, (with Alejandro de la Fuente), in Symposium on Race Trials, 91 N.C. L. Rev. 1700 (2013).
- All Born to Freedom: Comparing the Law and Politics of Race and the Memory of Slavery in the U.S. and France Today, 21 So. Cal. Interdisciplinary L. J. 522 (2012). Full Text
- From the Streets to the Courts: Doing Grass-Roots Legal History of the Civil Rights Era: A Review of Tomiko Brown-Nagin, ‘Courage to Dissent', 90 Texas L. Rev. 1233 (2012).
- Teaching Humanities Softly: Bringing A Critical Approach to the First-Year Contracts Class through Trial and Error, in Symposium on Law and Humanities in the Law School Curriculum,, California L. Rev. Circuit (2012).
- Unsex Parenting, or, What’s So Bad About the 1970s: A Comment on Darren Rosenblum, Unsex Mothering, in Harvard J. L. & Gender, online (2012).
- Essay: Race, Law, and Comparative History, 29 Law & History Rev 549 (2011).
- Comparative Studies of Law, Slavery and Race in the Americas, (with Alejandro de la Fuente), 6 Annual Review of Law & Soc. Sci. 469 (2010). Full Text
- Author’s Reply to Book Review Symposium, What Blood Won’t Tell, 83 So. Cal. L. Rev. 495 (2010).
- The Constitution of History and Memory, in Austin Sarat et al., in Law and the Humanities: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
- When Is the Time of Slavery? The History of Slavery in Contemporary Legal and Political Argument, 96 Calif. L. Rev. 283 (2008). Full Text
- Slavery, Antislavery, and the Coming of the Civil War, in The Cambridge History of Law in America (edited by Christopher Tomlins & Michael Grossberg, Cambridge University Press, 2008).
- Of Portuguese Origin”: Litigating Identity and Citizenship among The “Little Races” in Nineteenth Century America, 25 Law & History Rev. 467 (2007). Full Text
- The Caucasian Cloak’: Mexican Americans and The Politics of Whiteness in The Twentieth Century Southwest, 95 Georgetown L. J. 337 (2007). (reprinted in Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge [3rd ed.]). Full Text
- Reflections on Law, Culture, and Slavery, in Slavery and the American South (edited by Winthrop D. Jordan, Univ. of Mississippi Press, 2003).
- Texas Mexicans and The Politics of Whiteness, 21 Law & History Rev. 195 (2003).
- The Law and The Culture of Slavery: Natchez, Mississippi, in Local Matters: Race, Crime and Justice in the Nineteenth-Century South (edited by Donald Nieman & Christopher Waldrep, eds., Univ. of Georgia Press, 2001).
- Beyond Black and White: Cultural Approaches to Race and Slavery, 101 Columbia L. Rev. 640 (2001).
- Litigating Whiteness: Trials of Racial Determination in the Nineteenth-Century South, 108 Yale L. J. 109 (1998). (excerpted in Kevin R. Johnson, ed., Mixed Race America and the Law: A Reader (NYU Press, 2003). Full Text
- Like Master, Like Man’: Constructing Whiteness in the Commercial Law of Slavery, 1800-1861, Symposium: Bondage, Freedom and the Constitution, 18 Cardozo L. Rev. 263. Full Text
- Pandora's Box: Slave Character on Trial in the Antebellum Deep South, 7 Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 267 (Summer, 1995). Reprinted in Slavery and the Law 291 (Paul Finkelman, ed., Madison House, 1997).
- (with H.W. Brands & Timothy Breen), in American Stories, (Pearson, Longman, 2021).
- (with Divine, Brands, Breen, Fredrickson, & Williams), in America Past & Present, and The American Story, (Pearson, Longman, 2013).
- Book Review: Neither Fugitive nor Free: Atlantic Slavery, Freedom Suits, and the Legal Culture of Travel, Slavery and Abolition, (2010).
- History, Race, and Prediction, in Review Symposium: Bernard Harcourt, Against Prediction, 33 Law & Social Inquiry 233 (2008). Full Text
- Book Review: White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South, by Martha Hodes, 18 Law and History Review 685-86 (Fall 2000).
- The Contraction of Freedom,” review of From Bondage to Contract, by Amy Dru Stanley., Reviews in American History . 28 (2000) 255-62.
- Book Review: Slave Laws in Virginia, by Philip Schwarz, Amer. J. of Legal History . 42:97-98 (1998)
Selected Recent Lectures, Talks And Workshops
- “The Constitution Is Also a Monument: Slavery, Memory, and American Politics,” at Boston College Legal History Roundtable (April 7, 2022).
- "The Constitution Is Also a Monument: Slavery, Memory, and American Politics", at the Centre des Études Nord-Americains, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (March 1, 2022).
- "The Constitution Is Also a Monument: Slavery, Memory, and American Politics," Columbia Law School Legal History Workshop (February 3, 2022.).
- Becoming Free, Becoming Black: The Law of Race and Freedom in Cuba, Louisiana, and Virginia, 1500-1860, at Centre International de Recherches sur les Esclavages, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (March 2022).
- Commentator, Panel on Richard Ford, Dress Codes, at Stanford Law School, (Zoom) (February 25, 2022).
- Becoming Free, Becoming Black in Spanish Louisiana, at the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, (Zoom) (February 21, 2022).
- Commentator, Equality Law Forum, Boston Univ. Law School (November 11-12, 2021).
- “Of Coercion, ‘Consent,’ and Concubines: The Regulation and Litigation of Interracial Sex And Marriage under Slavery in the U.S. South,” at Euromix: Symposium on Regulating Mixture, at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands (Oct. 26, 2021).
- Panel on Lessons for Comparative History from Becoming Free, Becoming Black, American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting (Nov. 6, 2021).
- Symposium on Becoming Free, Becoming Black, Tel Aviv Univ. Law Faculty, Berg Institute for Legal History; Minerva Institute for Human Rights (June 21, 2021).
- Author Meets Reader Panel, Becoming Free, Becoming Black, Law and Society Association Annual Meeting (Zoom) (May 28, 2021).
- Northwestern School of Law Faculty Workshop (Zoom) (April 26, 2021).
- Georgetown Law Modern Critical Race Perspectives Book Talk (Zoom) (Feb. 25, 2021).
- Public Lecture, “Becoming Black and The Laws of Blood,” Susquehanna University (Zoom) (Feb. 23, 2021).
- Fiftieth Anniversary William L. Davis Lecture, Gonzaga University (Zoom) (Feb. 17, 2021).
- Northwestern School of Law, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Book Talk (Zoom) (Feb. 10, 2021).
- Stanford Center for Law and History (Zoom) (Feb. 9, 2021).
- National Association of Women Judges Panel on Racial Justice (Zoom) (Nov. 10, 2020).
- New York University Law School, BLSA & LLSA Book Talk (Zoom) (Nov. 19, 2020).
- Los Angeles Times Book Festival (Zoom) (Nov. 10, 2020).
- Gilder Lehrman Center Annual Conference on Cuban Slavery, Plenary Panel (Zoom) (Nov. 7, 2020).
- Triangle Legal History Workshop, co-sponsored by Duke History Dept. and Princeton University History Dept. (Zoom) (Oct. 21, 2020).
- American Society for Comparative Law Annual Meeting (Zoom) ( Oct. 15, 2020).
- Columbia University Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (Zoom) (Oct. 8, 2020).
- USC Center for Law, History, and Culture Book Panel (Zoom) (Sept. 25, 2020).
- Yale Legal History Forum (Zoom) (Sept. 15, 2020).
- Cambridge University Press Book Festival (Zoom) (August 10, 2020).
- Public Seminar, New School (Zoom) (July 1, 2020).
- Harvard Law School Alumni Association- Washington, DC (Zoom) (June 14, 2020).
- Talking Legal History (podcast) (June, 2020).
- New Books in African American History (podcast) (May, 2020).
- Good Law, Bad Law (podcast) (April, 2020).
- Ipse Dixit (podcast) (March, 2020).
- Fifteen Eighty-Four (podcast) (May, 2020).
- UC Davis History Dept & School of Law (February 26, 2020).
- Washington University School of Law, 400 Years of Blacks in America (September 19, 2019).
- Plenary Lecture, Conference on Comparative Studies of Race and Slavery in the Atlantic World, Instituto de Historia, Madrid, Spain (June 17, 2019).
- École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (March 8, 2019).
- Université de Paris 2 (March 7, 2019).
- Plenary Lecture, American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting, Houston, Texas (November 8, 2018).
Selected Recent Essays And Op-Eds
- Why They Attack Critical Race Theory, New York Daily News (June 18, 2021). Full Text
- Los Esclavos que Compraban su Proprio Libertad (with Alejandro de la Fuent), El País (July 26, 2020). Full Text
- Slaves who bought their freedom (with Alejandro de la Fuente), Yucatan Times (July 26, 2020.). Full Text
- Why Monuments Matter, Fifteen Eighty-Four Blog (June 17, 2020). Full Text
- The ‘Ferociously Contested’ Story of How Blackness Became a Legal Identity (with Alejandro de la Fuente), Zócalo Public Square (June 2020). Full Text
- Becoming Black and Christian in Virginia (with Alejandro de la Fuente), Canopy Forum: On the Interactions of Law & Religion (March 20, 2020). Full Text
- The History of Slavery Remains with Us Today (with Alejandro de la Fuente), The Washington Post (March 9, 2020). Full Text
- Inventing Freedom: Blackness & Enslavement in Cuba, Louisiana, and Virginia, Lapham’s Quarterly (January 2020). Full Text
- How President Trump’s Hostility Could Boost Cuban Nationalism (with Alejandro de la Fuente), The Washington Post (October 22, 2019). Full Text
- Citizenship Once Meant Whiteness; Here’s How That Changed (with Alejandro de la Fuente), The Washington Post (July 18, 2019). Full Text