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Dorothy E. Roberts

George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights

Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, joined the University of Pennsylvania as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School where she holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander chair. She is also founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies.

Her pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent contemporary issues in health, social justice, and bioethics, especially as they impact the lives of women, children and African-Americans. Continue reading…


KILLING THE BLACK BODY: RACE, REPRODUCTION AND THE MEANING OF LIBERTY (Random House/Pantheon, 1997; Vintage paperback, 1999; Vintage 20th anniversary ed., 2017).
[Available Here]

[Available Here]

SHATTERED BONDS: THE COLOR OF CHILD WELFARE (Basic Books/Civitas, 2001; paperback, 2002).
[Available Here]

Articles and Book Chapters

Digitizing the Carceral State, reviewing Virginia Eubanks, AUTOMATING INEQUALITY: HOW HIGH-TECH TOOLS PROFILE, POLICE, AND PUNISH THE POOR (St. Martin’s Press, 2017), 132 HARV. L. REV. 1695 (2019).

Why Baby Markets Aren't Free, 7 UC IRVINE L. REV. 611 (2017).

Democratizing Criminal Law as an Abolitionist Project, 111 NW. U. L. REV. 1597 (2017).

Crossing Two Color Lines: Interracial Marriage and Residential Segregation in Chicago, 45 CAP. U. L. REV. 1 (2017).

Race, Care Work, and the Private Law of Inheritance, 40 LAW & SOC. INQUIRY 511 (2015).

Loving v. Virginia as a Civil Rights Decision, 59 N.Y. L. SCH. L. REV. 175 (2014-2015).

Child Protection as Surveillance of African American Families, 36 J. SOC. WELFARE & FAM. L. 426 (2014).

Reconciling Equal Protection Law in the Public and in the Family: The Role of Racial Politics, 162 U. PA. L. REV. ONLINE 283 (2014).

Law, Race, and Biotechnology: Toward a Biopolitical and Transdisciplinary Paradigm, 18 ANN. REV. L. & SOC. SCI. 149 (2013)

Movement Intersectionality: The Case of Race, Gender, Disability, and Genetic Technologies, 10 DUBOIS REV. 313 (2013) (with Sujatha Jesudason).

Prison, Foster Care, and the Systematic Punishment of Black Mothers, 59 UCLA L. REV. 1474 (2012).

Debating the Cause of Health Disparities -- Implications for Bioethics and Racial Equality, 21 CAMBRIDGE Q. HEALTHCARE ETHICS 332 (2012).

The Social Context of Oncofertility, 61 DEPAUL L. REV. 777 (2012).

What’s Wrong with Race-Based Medicine? Genes, Drugs, and Health Disparities, 12 MINN. J. L. SCI. & TECH. 1-21 (2011) (2010 Dienard Memorial Lecture in Law & Medicine).

Collateral Consequences, Genetics Surveillance, and the New Biopolitics of Race, 54 HOW. L.J. 567 (2011).

The Paradox of Silence and Display: Sexual Violation of Enslaved Women and Contemporary Contradictions in Black Female Sexuality, in BEYOND SLAVERY: OVERCOMING ITS RELIGIOUS AND SEXUAL LEGACIES 41 (Bernadette J. Brooten, ed., Praeger Press 2010).
[Available Here]

Race, Gender, and Genetic Technologies: A New Reproductive Dystopia?, 34 SIGNS 783 (2009).

Margaret Sanger and the Racial Origins of the Birth Control Movement, in RACIALLY WRITING THE REPUBLIC: RACISTS, RACE REBELS, AND TRANSFORMATIONS OF AMERICAN IDENTITY 196 (Bruce Baum & Duchess Harris, eds., Duke University Press, 2009).
[Available Here]

The Social and Moral Cost of Mass Incarceration in African American Communities, 56 STAN. L. REV. 1271 (2004).

Spiritual and Menial Housework, 9 YALE J.L. & FEMINISM 51 (1997).

The Genetic Tie, 62 U. CHI. L. REV. 209 (1995).

Punishing Drug Addicts Who Have Babies: Women of Color, Equality, and The Right of Privacy, 104 HARV. L. REV. 1419 (1991).

More publications can be found here.


Penn Law – George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights (2012- )

Northwestern – Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law (2002-12); professor (1998-02). Joint appointments: Institute for Policy Research, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in African American Studies and Sociology

Visiting Faculty/Fellow – Harvard, Stanford, Fordham, Northwestern, Penn Law

Fulbright Fellow, Center for Gender and Development Studies, University of West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago (2002-03)


  • Critical Race Theory
  • Criminal Law
  • Current Controversies in Child Welfare Policy
  • Family Law
  • Race, Biotechnology and Law in the Gene Age

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