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Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities 2023-24: Defining Immigration Event

Defining Immigration Event

Defining Immigration, Empire, Race, and Slavery
Tuesday Feb 27, 2024 
6:00 PM (online via Zoom)

Zoom pre-registration link:

How did the meanings of race, empire, and slavery vary in the US and South Asia nations under British control? What role did slavery and law play in creating and dismantling these regimes? Professor SenGupta’s new book addresses the topic in the US and in nations in the Indian Ocean, tracing the effects, commonalities, and differences in all regions. Professor Kenny’s recent book focuses on the effect of slavery on voluntary migration policy in the US before the 1882 transition to exclusively federal control. Professor Law will serve as moderator.


Kevin Kenny, Glucksman Professor of History at New York University
Gunja SenGupta, Professor of History at Brooklyn College
Moderated by Anna Law, Herbert Kurz Chair in Constitutional Rights and Associate Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College

Kevin Kenny (@kgmkenny, is Glucksman Professor of History at New York University, where he teaches the history of US immigration and global migration. His latest book, The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic: Policing Mobility in the Nineteenth-Century United States (​​Oxford University Press 202​3), explains how the existence, abolition, and legacies of slavery shaped American immigration policy as it moved from the local to the national level in the century after the American Revolution. He has authored 4 other books and numerous articles. Professor Kenny currently serves as President of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and as a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians.

Gunja SenGupta is a Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her current research and teaching interests lie in 19th-century U.S. history within global contexts of slavery and colonialism. She is the author of Sojourners, Sultans, and Slaves: America and the Indian Ocean in the Age of Abolition and Empire (2023), the most recent in addition to two books and numerous articles. Her work has been funded by fellowships and grants awarded by Mrs. Giles Whiting, Wolfe, Tow, Mellon, foundations among others, as well most recently by CUNY’s Mellon-funded Black, Race, and Ethnic Studies Initiative (BRESI-CUNY). 

Anna Law is the Herbert Kurz Chair in Constitutional Rights and Associate Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College. She is completing a book on migration federalism in the colonial period to 1893 when immigration became a federal policy area exclusively.

Books by the Panelists