Christine Mertens (1994) specializes in the interconnections between freedom, mobility, and race during the early national period. Her dissertation examines the interactions of free people of African descent with and around legislation to surveil and control their mobility in early antebellum Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia (1790-1830). Drawing inspiration from the field of migration studies, she demonstrates how free Black people on the move engaged with the concept of “illegality” in the period following the American Revolution and into the early nineteenth century. In doing so, she hopes to provide a new perspective to existing scholarship that considers the experience of freedom and strategies of those most vulnerable to the application of the law.

Originally from the Netherlands, Christine received her BA History with a specialization in American History in 2016 and her MA North American Studies in 2019, both from Leiden University. Her research has been generously supported by grants and fellowships from The Library Company in Philadelphia, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, among others. Christine’s research interests include slavery, law, race, and resistance, as well as the American Revolution. She is currently the editor-in-chief of the Netherlands American Studies Review, the journal of the Netherlands American Studies Association.