Danielle Boaz is an assistant professor in the Africana Studies Department. She offers courses in the areas of social justice, human rights, the law, and the African Diaspora, including “African Americans and the Legal Process,” “Racial Violence: Colonial Times to Present,” and “African Diaspora Theory”. Dr. Boaz previously taught in the Law, Politics, and Society Department at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.
Dr. Boaz brings a unique combination of expertise in law, legal history and Africana studies to the department. She has a Ph.D. in History with a specialization in Africa, the African Diaspora and the Caribbean from the University of Miami, a J.D. with a concentration in International Law from the University of Toledo, and a LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights from St. Thomas University. She is also a licensed attorney in the State of Florida and practiced law in Miami for several years before transitioning to a career in academia. Dr. Boaz plans to seek admission to the bar in North Carolina and use her legal experience to help students engage with pro bono civil rights work in the Charlotte area.
Dr. Boaz’s research focuses on the structural racism ingrained in domestic and international mechanisms protecting civil, political, social and cultural rights. The bulk of her work addresses the legal proscription of African cultural practices in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the modern day impact of those laws on public perceptions of these practices. She has published articles about linguistic rights for Creole speakers as well as broad overviews of the history of the proscription and prosecution of African religions in the Western Hemisphere. One of her more recent articles examined the use of the term “voodoo” in U.S. court proceedings regarding divorce, child custody and insanity.
Dr. Boaz’s current book project explores the boundaries of “legitimate” spiritual practices in the Anglophone Atlantic world from the 1850s to the 1950s. Her research integrates British colonial proscriptions of African diaspora religions in the Caribbean and Africa into more well-established studies of the legal prohibition of astrology, spiritualism and “pretended” witchcraft in the United States and Britain during this period. Dr. Boaz was invited to participate in two selective summer workshops to develop this project: the Junior Scholars Law and Humanities Workshop hosted by Columbia Law School and the Institute for Constitutional History’s Summer Research Seminar hosted by Stanford Law School.