2017 Fulbright Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice
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Paul Finkelman is currently the John E. Murray Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago under the direction of Stanley N. Katz and the late John Hope Franklin and was later a Fellow in Law and Humanities at Harvard Law School. For the calendar year 2016 he held the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. He has also held endowed chairs at Duke Law School (The John Hope Franklin Chair in Legal History), LSU Law School, University of Tulsa College of Law, and the University of Miami history department. He is the President William McKinley Professor Emeritus at Albany Law School. He is the author of more than 200 scholarly articles and the author or editor of more than fifty books.
He is a specialist in American legal history, U. S. Constitutional law, race and the law, the law of American slavery, the First Amendment, religious liberty, the history of the Second Amendment, African American history, the American Civil War, and legal issues surrounding American sports. His work has been cited four times by the United States Supreme Court, numerous other courts, and in many appellate briefs. He has lectured on slavery, human trafficking, and human rights issues at the United Nations, throughout the United States, and in more than a dozen other countries. In 2014 he was ranked as the fifth most cited legal historian in American legal scholarship in Brian Leiter’s “Top Ten Law Faculty Scholarly Impact, 2009-2013.” He was an expert witness in the famous Alabama Ten Commandments Monument Case (Glassroth v. Moore) and in the law suit over the ownership of Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run ball (Popov v. Hayashi).
As the Fulbright Chair in Human Rights at the University of Ottawa, Professor Finkelman will work on a variety of project. His first task will be to put the finishing touches on his forthcoming book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, which will be published by Harvard University Press in 2018. When that book is finished he will be working on two other projects relating to slavery and human rights. First is a law review article titled: “The Eternal Problem of Slavery in International Law: Killing the Vampire of Human Culture.” This article explores the complicated and twisted history of international efforts to end the African slave trade and then slavery itself. The article will be published in the Michigan State Law Review in 2018. The articles conclude that like the mythical vampire, no matter how many times slavery is killed off, it seems to rise again, and live on. At the same time Professor Finkelman will be writing his next book, a history of the Oberlin-Wellington Fugitive Slave Rescue and the subsequent prosecution of the rescuers. The book explores the motivations of those who risked their liberty and purse to rescue as fugitive slave from federal custody and the motivations and goals of the federal government, which indicted more than 30 people for the rescue, but ultimately only tried two of them. Professor Finkelman will also give a number of talks and lectures in Canada and the United States while holding the Fulbright chair. In addition, he hopes to be as visiting lecturer in various classes at the University of Ottawa.