Portrait (head shot photo)
Kali Nicole Gross
Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of History
Degree: Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Additional Degree(s): M.A., University of Pennsylvania B.A., Cornell University, (magna cum laude)
Rutgers : At Rutgers since 2017
Specialty: African-American and US History: Women's and Gender History
Office: 210 Van Dyck Hall
Phone: 848-932-8222
Research Interests: My research concentrates on black women’s experiences in the United States criminal justice system between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Additionally, my writing frequently explores how legacies of race, gender, and justice currently shape mass incarceration.


  • African American History, 1865 to present
  • African American Women’s History
  • Race, gender, and justice in United States History


  • A Black Women’s History of the United States. Co-authored with Daina Ramey Berry (Forthcoming, Beacon Press, 2019).
  • Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America. (Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910. (Duke University Press, 2006).
  • Special Issue: Gendering the Carceral State: African American Women, History, and Criminal Justice, Journal of African American History, guest ed. K. N. Gross and C. D. Hicks, 100 (no. 3, Summer 2015).
  • “African American Women, Mass Incarceration, and the Politics of Protection,” Special Issue: Historians and the Carceral State, Journal of American History, 102 (no. 1, June 2015), 25–33.
  • “Exploring Crime and Violence in Early-Twentieth-Century Black Women’s History,” in Contesting Archives: Historians Develop Methodologies for Finding Women in the Sources, ed. Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry Katz, and Betsy Perry (University of Illinois Press, 2010), 56–71.


  • Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction, 2017
  • The Op-Ed Project, Public Voices Fellow, 2014
  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Scholar-in-Residence, 2007
  • Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, Association of Black Women Historians, 2006
  • Lindback Research Award, 2006
  • John Hope Franklin Center Manuscript Prize, 2005


  • African American Intellectual History Society
  • Association of Black Women Historians
  • American Historical Association
  • Association for the Study of African-American Life and History
  • Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora
  • Organization of American Historians


Portrait (head shot photo)
Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History
Degree: Ph.D., Columbia University
Additional Degree(s): M.A., Columbia University B.A., University of Pennsylvania
Rutgers : At Rutgers since 2017
Specialty: African-American and US History: Women's and Gender History
Office: 303A Van Dyck Hall
Phone: 848-932-8352
Research Interests: I am a late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century scholar with a specialization in African American women’s history. I have interests in urban slavery, emancipation studies, and the intersection of race and gender in American history.


  • African American History to 1865
  • African American Women’s History
  • American Slavery



  • The Politics of History: A New Generation of American Historians Writes Back. Co-authored with, Jim Downs, Timothy Patrick McCarthy, and T.K. Hunter. (In progress)
  • Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. (Atria/37 Ink, February 2017)
  • A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City. (Yale University Press, 2008)

Selected Articles/Essays

  • “Ringing the Freedom Bell” The Nation (November 2016)
  • Daina Ramey Berry and Erica Armstrong Dunbar, “The Unbroken Chain of Enslaved African Resistance and Rebellion.” In The Birth of a Nation: Nat Turner and the Making of a Movement, edited by N. Parker, 35-61. New York: Atria/Simon and Schuster, September 2016.
  • “[“]I knew that if I went back to Virginia, I should never get my liberty.” Ona Judge Staines: The President’s Runaway Slave.” In Women in Early America, 225-245, edited by Tom Foster. New York: NYU Press, 2015.
  • Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, guest co-editor of special issue on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. (January 2013)
  • Freedom Bound: The Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation – with Readex, a division of Newsbank. Volume 7 Issue 3 (October 2012)
  • “African-American Women and Indentured Servitude.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, edited by Bonnie G. Smith. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • “Writing for True Womanhood: African American Women's Writings and the Anti-Slavery Struggle. In Women’s Rights and Transatlantic Antislavery in the Era of Emancipation, edited by Kathryn Kish Sklar and James Brewer Stewart, 299-318. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007
  • “A Mental and Moral Feast:” Reading, Writing, and Sentimentality in Black Philadelphia” in The Journal of Women’s History (Spring 2004)


  • “Melania Trump’s Reluctance Matches a FLOTUS Before Her” TIME.COM (January 2017)
  • “George Washington, Slave Catcher” The New York Times (February 2015)
  • “Echoes of Slavery Era in Reaction to Ferguson” Philadelphia Inquirer (December 4, 2014)
Portrait (head shot photo)
Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan
Instructor of Public History and Coordinator of the Internship Program
Degree: Ph.D., History, University of Leicester
Specialty: Nineteenth-Century US: Social History; Public History
Office: 213C Van Dyck Hall
Phone: 848-932-8226


 Public History Program


I am a public historian, scholar of early American social history, and former archivist researching and writing about poverty, slavery, mobility, crime and punishment in the early American republic, as well as public historical and commemorative representations of these subjects. I am currently at work on projects relating to subsistence crime in early America, the Arch Street Prison, and public historical interpretations of poverty, class, and labor.



  • Research Analyst and Archivist, Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives 
  • Contributing Member/University Partner, Humanities Action Lab
  • Contributing Author, National Council on Public History, Digital Media Group
  • Co-organizer and Planning Committee Member, Telling Untold Histories Unconference
  • Exhibitions Research Consultant, Department of Human History, National Museums of Northern Ireland
  • Public Programs Coordinator, Ephrata Public Library
  • Project Archivist, Center for Pennsylvania German Studies, Millersville University of Pennsylvania
  • Project Archivist, Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley
  • Project Archivist, Pennsylvania Folklife Society Collection, Ursinus College


  • Public History: Theory, Method, and Practice
  • Public History Internship
  • New Jersey History


  • Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2017-2018
  • Digital Humanities Initiative Seed Grant, Rutgers University, 2017-2018
  • Prindle Institute Fellow, Prindle Institute for Ethics Seminar on Ethics and Epistemology in the Archives, Depauw University, 2016
  • Lord Baltimore Fellowship, Maryland Historical Society, 2015-2016
  • College of Arts, Humanities, and Law Research Grant, University of Leicester, 2015
  • Peter Parish Memorial Award, Association of British American Nineteenth Century Historians, 2014


  • National Council on Public History
  • International Federation for Public History
  • Society for Historians of the Early American Republic
  • Labor and Working Class History Association
  • American Society for Legal History
Portrait (head shot photo)
Julia Stephens
Assistant Professor of History
Degree: Ph.D., Harvard University
Additional Degree(s): M.Phil., Trinity College, Cambridge B.A., Harvard College
Rutgers : At Rutgers since 2016
Specialty: Colonial and Post-Colonial South Asia: Legal History
Office: 114 Van Dyck Hall
Phone: 848-932-8261


{Photo credit: Roy Groething}


My research focuses on how law has shaped religion, family, and economy in colonial and post-colonial South Asia and in the wider Indian diaspora. My first book, entitled Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in South Asia, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. The book moves between official archives of colonial law and wider spheres of public debates, bringing into conversation vernacular pamphlets and newspapers, Urdu fatwas, colonial legal cases, and legislative deliberations. Drawing on these wide-ranging legal archives, Governing Islam explores how colonial law constructed a new religious/secular binary that was deeply influential, and vibrantly contested inside and outside colonial courts.

I am currently working on a project on inheritance and diasporic Indian families, tentatively entitled Worldly Afterlives: Death and Diaspora in the Indian Ocean. The project traces the lives of Indian migrants—sailors, petty moneylenders, female merchants, and even circus performers—by looking at the assets they left behind after their deaths. These estates ranged from mercantile fortunes to a few treasured personal effects, including letters, jewelry, or a pocketful of receipts for small debts owed by fellow travelers. Relatives in India and abroad struggled to navigate complex international bureaucracies in order to track down information about long-lost relatives and the property they left behind. This archive provides a window into the intersecting histories of diasporic families and the formation of state bureaucracies for managing global flows of labor and capital. In the coming years this research will take me to India, South Africa, Zanzibar, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

My teaching includes surveys on modern South Asia and political Islam, and more specialized seminars on Islamic law, postcolonial and subaltern theory, and diasporic family histories. Before coming to Rutgers, I taught at Yale, Cambridge, and Harvard.


  • Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in South Asia (Cambridge University, Press, 2018). South Asia Edition, 2019.
  • “A Bureaucracy of Rejection: Petitioning and the Impoverished Paternalism of the British-Indian Raj.” Modern Asian Studies 53, no. 1 (January 2019): 177-202.
  • “The Past and Future of the Muslim Post-Colonial Moment: Islamic Economy and Social Justice in South Asia.” In The Postcolonial Moment in South and Southeast Asia, edited by Gyan Prakash, Nikhil Menon, and Michael Laffan. London: Bloomsbury, 2018.
  • “An Uncertain Inheritance: The Imperial Travels of Legal Migrants, from British India to Ottoman Iraq,” Law and History Review 32.4 (November 2014).
  • “The Politics of Muslim Rage: Secular Law and Religious Sentiments in Late-Colonial India,” History Workshop Journal (Spring 2014): 45-64.
  • “The Phantom Wahhabi: Liberalism and the Muslim Fanatic in Mid-Victorian India,” Modern Asian Studies 47.1(January 2013): 22-52.


  • Award for Distinguished Contribution to Undergraduate Education, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University (2019)
  • InterAsia Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (2016-2017)
  • Kempf Memorial Fund, MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University (2015-2016)
  • Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for History and Economics, Cambridge University (2013-2014)
  • Sidney R. Knafel Completion Fellowship, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (2012-2013)
  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education (2008-2012)


Portrait (head shot photo)
Johan Mathew
Associate Professor of History
Degree: Ph.D., Harvard University
Additional Degree(s): Diploma in Arabic, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), B.A. Princeton University
Rutgers : At Rutgers since 2016
Specialty: Global and Economic History; Indian Ocean
Office: 106 Van Dyck Hall
Phone: 848-932-8380


I am a cultural and social historian of the economy with a particular interest in illicit commerce and how it shapes modern capitalism. Geographically, I have focused on the Indian Ocean but I study and teach transnational and global history more generally. Before coming to Rutgers I was jointly appointed in the Departments of History and Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

My first book, Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea (University of California Press, 2016), traces the hidden networks that trafficked slaves, guns and gold across the Arabian Sea in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The book shows how capitalism is constituted by the constant process of distinguishing and delegitimizing certain forms of exchange as trafficking. Connected to this project I have several published and forthcoming articles and chapters on trust, corruption, violence, and diaspora in the Indian Ocean world.

I have now turned my attention to a new project tentatively entitled, “Opiates of the Masses: A History of Humanity in the Time of Capital.” This research explores the consumption of cannabis, opium and other narcotics with particular concern for how and why they are consumed by the working classes in the global south. I’m interested in how these substances allow human bodies to adapt to the demands of an industrial production and the time pressures of a capitalist economy. The project is not concerned with drugs so much as the fraught relationship between capitalist markets and the human experience of pain and pleasure.


  • 506:102 World History 1500 to the Present
  • 506:220 Piracy: A Global History
  • 506:299 History Workshop: Slavery and Islam
  • 508:292 Pilgrims, Pirates and Poets: Globalization in the Indian Ocean World
  • 510:541 Colloquium on Global History: Capitalism and its Discontents (Graduate)
  • 090:293 The Political Economy of Piracy (Honors)


  • Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea (University of California Press, 2016). Winner of the Ralph Gomory Prize, The Business History Conference; the Roger Owen Book Award (Bi-Annual), Middle East Studies Association; the Middle East Political Economy Prize, The Political Economy Project; and the First Monograph Prize in Economic and Social History (Bi-Annual), The Economic History Society.
  • “On Principals and Agency: Reassembling Trust in Indian Ocean Commerce” in Comparative Studies in Society and History (forthcoming, Volume 61, January 2019)
  • “Smoke on the Water: Cannabis Smuggling, Corruption and the Janus-Faced Colonial State” in History Workshop Journal (Volume 86, Autumn 2018)
  • “Spectres of Pan-Islam: Methodological Nationalism and the Origins of Decolonization” in Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 45, no. 6 (December 2017): 942-968.
  • “Sindbad’s Ocean: Reframing the Market in the Middle East,” Roundtable essay in the International Journal of Middle East Studies 48, no. 4 (December 2016): 754-757.
  • “Trafficking Labor: Abolition and the Exchange of Labor across the Arabian Sea, 1861-1947” in Slavery & Abolition 33, no. 1, (March 2012): 139-156.


  • Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, Faculty Fellow
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, John E. Sawyer Seminar Grant, Co-Principal Investigator
  • Business History Conference, Herman E. Krooss Dissertation Prize (Finalist)
  • Social Science Research Council, Postdoctoral Fellowship for Transregional Research
  • Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Graduate Fellowship