Emily Burrill

Associate Professor

Field & Specialties

20th c. West African History
Gender and Sexuality
Transnational Feminism
French Empire
Law and Society
Human Rights and Humanitarianism

Education

Ph.D., Stanford University (2007)

M.A., University of Vermont (2001)

A.B., Mount Holyoke College (1997)

Biography

Emily Burrill is a scholar of twentieth century West African history and the history of gender and sexuality in French empire. Her scholarship and teaching explore historical questions of gender and belonging in colonial and postcolonial communities, law and society, rights formation, and feminist theory. At UVA, she is Associate Professor in the Department of History and a member of the John Nau, III History and Principles of Democracy Lab. In these roles, she teaches classes on histories of gender and sexuality, modern Africa, and she develops and support programming in the core lab of the Democracy Initiative. 

Burrill’s first monograph was States of Marriage: Gender, Justice, and Rights in Colonial Mali (2015), which won the 2016 French Colonial Historical Society Heggoy Prize. She is also the co-author of two edited volumes: Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa (2010) and Legislating Gender and Sexuality in Africa: Human Rights, Society, and the State (2021). She has written numerous articles and chapters on a range of topics including forced marriage, gender and enslavement in the Senegambia, masculinity, and gun rights. Her current book project is an episodic history that explores the gendered implications of citizenship for West Africans living in African territories of the French Union and postcolonial West Africa between 1946 and the mid-1960s. 

Before arriving at UVA, Burrill taught for twelve years in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For the past six years, she also served as the Director of the UNC-CH African Studies Center. Through this work she developed commitments to collaborations with international scholars and universities, foreign language study, exploring ethical directions in U.S. study abroad, and supporting international students on U.S. campuses. 

Publications

Books (monographs and edited volumes)

Legislating Gender and Sexuality in Africa: Human Rights, Society, and the State, co-edited with Lydia Boyd (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2020). 

States of Marriage: Gender, Justice, and Rights in Colonial Mali (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2015). 

Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa, co-edited with Richard L. Roberts and Elizabeth Thornberry (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2010).

Articles

“Sorting and Seeing: Digitization and Ways of Reading the Archives of French West Africa.” Journal of World History, Special Issue: Digital Methods/Empire History, ed. Antoinette Burton, 32 (2021): 1-19. 

 “‘Wives of Circumstance’: Slave Emancipation, Vulnerability and Gender in Late Nineteenth Century Senegal.” Slavery and Abolition 29, 1 (2008): 49-64 pp.  

 “Disputing Wife Abuse: Tribunal Narratives of the Corporal Punishment of Wives in Colonial Sikasso, 1930s.” Cahiers d’Etudes  Africaines 47, 3-4 (2007): 603-622 pp.

Chapters and Essays

2020   Lydia Boyd and Emily Burrill, “The Intimacy of Rights: Gender, Sexuality, and the State in Africa,” In Legislating Gender and Sexuality in Africa: Human Rights, Society, and the State. Ed. Lydia C. Boyd and Emily S. Burrill. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 3-24 pp.
2020 Emily Burrill. “Legislating Marriage in Postcolonial Mali: A History of the Present.” In Legislating Gender and Sexuality in Africa: Human Rights, Society, and the State. Ed. Lydia C. Boyd and Emily S. Burrill. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 25-41 pp.
2019 Emily Burrill and Rachel Jean-Baptiste. “Love, Marriage, and Families in Africa.” In Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective. Ed. Claire Robertson and Nwando Achebe. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 275-294 pp. 
2018 Emily Burrill. “Worlds and Words of Migration: Exile in African History.” In Africans in Exile: Mobility, Law, and Identity. Ed. Nathan Riley Carpenter and Benjamin Lawrance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 307-316 pp. 
2016 Emily Burrill. “Historicizing Social Justice and the Longue Durée of Forced Marriage in Africa.”  In Marriage By Force?: Contestation Over Consent and Coercion in Africa. Ed. Annie Bunting, Benjamin Lawrance, and Richard Roberts. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. 311-320 pp.   
2015 Cristina Alcalde, Srimati Basu, and Emily Burrill. “Feminist Organizing Around Violence Against Women in Mali, Peru, and India.” In Provocations: A Transnational Reader in the History of Feminist Thought. Ed. Cristina Alcalde, Susan Bordo, and Ellen Rosenman. Berkeley: University of California Press. 402-429 pp. 
2010 Emily Burrill and Richard Roberts. “Domestic Violence, The End of Slavery, and the Colonial Courts in French Soudan, 1905-1912.” In Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa. Ed. Emily Burrill, Richard Roberts, and Elizabeth Thornberry. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. 33-53 pp.
2010 Emily Burrill, Richard Roberts, Elizabeth Thornberry. “Introduction: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Domestic Violence in Africa.” In Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa. Ed. Emily Burrill, Richard Roberts, and Elizabeth Thornberry Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2010. 1-30 pp.