Justene Hill Edwards

Assistant Professor

352 Nau Hall
Office Hours: Mondays/Wednesdays, 10 - 11am

Field & Specialties

African-American History
American Slavery
History of American Capitalism
American Legal History


Ph.D., Princeton University, 2015

M.A., Princeton University, 2010

M.A., Florida International University, 2008

B.A., Swarthmore College, 2004


Justene Hill Edwards is a scholar of African-American history, specializing in the history of slavery in the United States.  She received her doctorate in History from Princeton University in 2015.  She also holds an M.A. in African New World Studies from Florida International University and a B.A. in Spanish from Swarthmore College.  Hill Edwards was a Consortium Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and a Quin Morton Teaching Fellow in Princeton University’s Writing Center.  Her dissertation, “’Felonious Transactions: The Legal Culture and Business Practices of Slave Economies in South Carolina, 1787-1860,” was a finalist for the C. Vann Woodward Prize from the South Historical Association, a finalist for the SHEAR Dissertation Prize from the Society for Historians on the Early American Republic, and a finalist for the Herman E. Krooss Dissertation Prize from the Business History Conference.  Her scholarship has been supported by the Program in American Studies at Princeton University, the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, the Program in International and Regional Studies at Princeton University, and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. 

Hill Edwards is working on a manuscript titled Black Markets: The Slaves’ Economy and Plantation Capitalism in South Carolina.  Black Markets is an innovative work that explores an overlooked aspect of the rise of American capitalism: slaves’ personal economic activities, or the slaves’ economy.  The first book to center the slaves’ economy in the rapid growth of capitalist enterprise in the 18th and 19th century American South, Black Markets reveals the detrimental influence of capitalist innovation on slaves’ economic pursuits in South Carolina, the most pro-slavery state in America on the eve of the Civil War. 

Awards & Honors

Finalist, SHEAR Dissertation Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.

Finalist, Herman E. Krooss Prize for Best Dissertation in Business History, Business History Conference.

Finalist, C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize, Southern Historical Association. 

Courses Taught

HIUS 1501: American Slavery and the Law

HIUS 3651: African-American History to 1865

HIUS 2059: American Slavery

HIUS 4501: Capitalism and Slavery