Laurie Wood

Associate Professor of History

Contact Information

Office Location
Bellamy 411

Laurie Wood is a historian of the early modern world. Her research focuses on Francophone history in comparative and global perspectives with attention to legality, risk, and place. She teaches courses in Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Early Modern European, and World History.

Her first book, Archipelago of Justice: Law in France’s Early Modern Empire (Yale Univ. Press 2020), evaluates the interwoven trajectories of the people, such as itinerant ship-workers and colonial magistrates, who built France’s first empire between 1680 and 1780 in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. These imperial subjects sought political and legal influence via law courts, with strategies that reflected local and regional priorities, particularly regarding slavery, war, and trade. Through court records and legal documents, Wood reveals how courts became liaisons between France and new colonial possessions.

Her second book project is Precarious Fortunes: Women, Catastrophe & Complicity in the French Tropics. Unraveling complex, often-ignored civil litigation from French Caribbean colonies, this book assesses large-scale processes like slavery, capitalism, and empire-building through the ambivalent perspective of women - enslaved and free, married and single – whose status (and therefore power) could change in a flash. This project touches on pertinent themes such as household labor, financial calamity, family dynamics, and the very human desire to succeed by whatever material or other means possible.

Current works-in-progress address topics such as entangled domains of legal and scientific knowledge, legal consciousness in Indian Ocean taverns, public and private space in Caribbean slave societies, and exile in the circum-Caribbean.

Website (including current research): Clionaute


Fall 2020:

  • Pirates & Patriots in the Atlantic World (Undergrad Lecture)
  • Early Modern Atlantic World (Graduate Colloquium)

Previous Courses, 2014-20:

  • The Modern World 1815 to the Present (Undergrad Survey)
  • Monsoon Empires: The Indian Ocean, 800-1800 (Undergrad Lecture)
  • From Medieval to Modern? Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 (Undergrad Lecture)
  • Patriots & Pirates: Law in the Atlantic World (Undergrad Lecture, Senior Seminar)
  • Early Modern Atlantic World (Graduate Colloquium)
  • Early Modern Europe (Graduate Colloquium)
  • Preparing Historians (Graduate Professional Skills) 

Recent Publications:

Research Interests
Atlantic History, Indian Ocean History, Legal History, France & Its Empire