The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Program: "Southern Slavery and its Political Legacy" this Monday

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Please join us for "Southern Slavery and Its Political Legacy: How American’s Peculiar Institution Continues to Affect American Politics Today" with Matthew Blackwell and Maya Sen from 4:30 to 5:40 pm in Rockefeller 003 on Monday, June 1. Refreshments will be served.

Can contemporary differences in political attitudes across counties in the American South be traced to historical perspectives during the Civil War era? Two leading political scientists believe so. Matthew Blackwell and Maya Sen, both Assistant Professors at Harvard University, offer evidence for a new theory that explains how the historical persistence of racial attitudes and the legacy of southern slavery continue to affect politics today.

They argue that following the Civil War, Southern whites faced political and economic incentives to reinforce existing racist norms and institutions to maintain control over the newly free African-American population. These local differences in racially conservative political attitudes have been passed down locally across generations. In a public talk co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Center and the Program in Quantitative Social Sciences, Professor Blackwell and Sen will discuss how their novel conclusions challenge the interpretation of a vast literature on racial attitudes in the American South.

Matthew Blackwell


Matthew Blackwell is an Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University and an affiliate of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. He studies political methodology with a focus on dynamic causal inference, missing data, panel data, and social network analysis. His substantive interests include American politics, negative advertising, and historical political economy. Blackwell graduated in 2012 with his Ph.D. from the Department of Government, Harvard University. He also earned a B.A. in Political Science magna cum laude and departmental highest honors from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Maya Sen

Maya Sen is a political scientist and an Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. Sen writes on issues involving the political economy of US race relations, law and politics, and statistical methods. Her research has been covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, MSNBC, and other outlets, and has appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Judicature, the Du Bois Review, and the Journal of Legal Studies. Her current book-length project, co-authored with Matthew Blackwell (Harvard) and Avidit Acharya (Stanford), explores the lasting impact of US slavery on contemporary politics. Sen graduated in 2012 with her Ph.D. from the Department of Government, Harvard University. She also holds an A.M. in Statistics and an A.B. in Economics from Harvard University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

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