Assistant Professor of Atlantic World History, Emory University
Adriana Chira is a scholar of law and land tenure in rural societies shaped by slavery and its afterlives. Her first book, Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba’s Plantations (Cambridge University Press, 2022), explores how in a part of the world where enslaved and free people of African descent litigated for freedom, bodily and family integrity, and property, eastern Cuba, the court system served as a crucible for an anti-slavery popular political consciousness during the nineteenth century.
While at WIGH, Chira will be working on her second book, a global history of adverse possession (or squatting) with a focus on the South Atlantic-- rural Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spanish Equatorial Guinea, and southern Spain. To this day, land occupation without title continues to be common practice across the Global South, especially in former regions of the Spanish Empire where the legal framework has offered protections. Chira explores the legal tactics through which land occupants living along the margins of agricultural corporations protected access rights and built local economies situated between the formal and informal domains.