Our Students - Profiles

Alexandra Havrylyshyn


Year: Advanced to Candidacy (ABD) - JSP

Email: ahavry@berkeley.edu


Ph.D. Candidate, JSP, UC Berkeley (ABD June 2015)
J.D. Candidate, Berkeley Law, Class of 2018 (First Year Distinction)
M.A., History, McGill University (Dean's Honour List), 2011
B.A., History and Political Science, McGill University (First Class Joint Honours), 2008


American Association of University Women Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2017-2018)
Kenneth and Dorothy Hill Bancroft Library Study Award (2017-2018)
American Jurisprudence Award in Legal Profession (2017)
U.C. Berkeley Center for Race and Gender Grant (2017)
Cromwell Fellowship, awarded with the advice of the American Society for Legal History (2016)
Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies Fellowship (2014-2015)
Austin Sarat Award for Best Graduate Student Paper, " 'We Contest Her Status for Her': Resisting the Legality of Slavery in the French Atlantic (1740)," (2013)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship (2012-2015)
Hildebrand Canadian Studies Research Fellowship (2012)


American Constitutional and Legal History
Critical Race Theory
French Atlantic History
Global History
Legal Ethics/Legal Profession
Property Law
Mindfulness in Law

Academic Experiences:

"Troublesome Jacques: How the Power of Attorney Threatened the Powers of New France," under peer review

"Practicing Law in a Lawyer-less Colony: The Curious Case of Jacques Nouette de le Poufellerie," Canada's Legal Past: Future Directions in Canadian Legal History, Calgary, AB (2017)
"Troublesome Trials in New France: The Itinerary of an Ancien Régime Legal Practitioner," French Colonial Historical Society, Aix-en-Provence, France (2017)
"Invoking the Freedom of French Soil in Antebellum Louisiana: An Atlantic Archival Prospectus," Law and Society Association, New Orleans, LA (2016)
"Practitioners and Procurators in the Litigious Society of New France," Emerging Histories of the French Atlantic, Omohundro Institute, Williamsburg, VA (2015)
"Contesting the Status of Slavery in Early Canada," American Society for Legal History SRC, Denver, CO (2014)
" 'We Contest Her Status for Her': Resisting the Legality of Slavery in the French Atlantic (1740)," Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, London, U.K. (2013)
"Troublesome Trials in New France: The Itinerary of an Ancien Régime Legal Practitioner, 1740-1743," Canadian Law and Society Association, Waterloo, ON (May 2012)

Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), for various courses at UC Berkeley, including: "Property and Liberty" (Fall 2016), "American Legal and Constitutional History" (Spring 2016), "Comparative Legal Norms and Traditions" UC Berkeley (Spring 2015), and "The History and Practice of Human Rights" (Fall 2012; Fall 2013)
Invited Participant, Jordan Saunders Interdisciplinary Summer Workshop for University Instructors in
Constitutional History, Stanford Law School (July 2014)

Elected Graduate Student Representative to the Board of Directors, American Society for Legal History (2017-2019)
Peer Reviewer, Law and History Review
Berkeley Law Mindfulness Group Student Coordinator (2017-2018)

Employment Experiences:

International Research Assistant, German Bundestag, Berlin (2010)
Intern, Academic and Research Relations, Public Affairs, Canadian Embassy, Washington, D.C. (2009)
Grant-Writer and Researcher for the YWCA, Montréal (2007)


A Canadian transplant, I am a native of Washington, D.C. In my spare time, I enjoy being in nature and exploring the world. I speak English, French, German, and Ukrainian fluently.

Dissertation Abstract:

Working Title, "Free Under the Laws of France: How Enslaved Women and Girls Argued for Liberty in Louisiana Courts, 1837-1857"

The conventional wisdom holds that slaves in American history were regarded as property and had no legal personhood. But a growing body of literature complicates this dichotomy by looking at the local rather than state or federal levels (e.g., Gross 2000, Edwards 2007, Penningroth 2003). Inspired by such research, my dissertation focuses on twenty enslaved women and girls who petitioned the First District Court of New Orleans to grant them freedom. In the civil law tradition, enslaved people were generally regarded as property but were allowed to initiate legal cases to contest their enslavement. In the 1830’s, many enslaved women and girls traveled with their mistresses (female slave owners) to Paris. Approximately ten years later, a French-speaking lawyer represented these enslaved women and girls in direct actions against their mistresses. Chapter 1 lays out their legal arguments. While state legislation weighed in favor of continued enslavement, petitioners grounded their arguments in higher law: constitutional and international. Chapters 2 and 3 construct a critical geography of black legal consciousness in New Orleans and Paris, respectively. Chapter 4 examines the transatlantic itinerary of the petitioners’ opportunistic slave-trading lawyer. Grounded in French Atlantic historiography, this chapter places him in professional context without romanticizing him as a cause lawyer. Chapter 5 concludes with an investigation of the growing pre-Civil War tension between two irreconcilable property regimes. Paradoxically, I find that women and girls of color had an opportunity to contest the regime that regarded persons as property. Because New Orleans was the South's largest slave-trading depot, this study has far- reaching ramifications.