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Mary D. Lewis

Harvard University Affiliated Professor


Mary D. Lewis
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Mary Lewis is Robert Walton Goelet Professor of French History at Harvard. She specializes in the legal, political, and social history of France and its overseas empire since the 18th century. Her first book was about the development of immigrant rights in interwar France. A co-winner of the 2008 J. Willard Hurst Prize in socio-legal history, The Boundaries of the Republic: Migrant Rights and the Limits of Universalism in France, 1918-1940 (Stanford, 2007) showed how rights emerged on the ground through everyday (and often very local) power struggles, then were enshrined in formal policy at the national level after the Second World War. Her second book, Divided Rule: Sovereignty and Empire in French Tunisia, 1881-1938 (California, 2013), examined connections between quotidian colonial conflicts, legal pluralism, and international relations, a dynamic that transformed French rule in Tunisia from a model of indirect rule where power was shared with the local dynasty to an interventionist quasi-colony in the course of fifty years. She is currently working on a book provisionally entitled “Transplanting Empire: France and the World after the Haitian Revolution.”


  • B.A. University of California, Davis, 1991
  • Ph.D. New York University, 2000