Colonialism, Race, and Slavery

Map of the 18thC Atlantic World

18thC Map of the Atlantic Basin

I’m an associate professor of History at the University of Washington, and my teaching and research explore the intersections of colonialism, slavery, and race in the context of early modern European interventions in Africa and the Americas.

My first book, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora, was published by Harvard University Press in 2007 and won the 2008 Frederick Douglass Prize for the most outstanding nonfiction book in English on the subject of slavery and/or abolition and antislavery movements (

Currently, I’m working on a second book entitled Africa in the Atlantic World: A Geopolitical History and have a third project on The Colonialism of Racial Slavery in the Americas also underway. 

Saltwater Slavery cover image

I’m new to the blogosphere and the main reason I’ve started this blog is to create a collaborative digital site for my University of Washington students to engage one another and share their work. In Spring 2015, I’ll be working with students in an upper-division History course entitled “Slavery in the Atlantic World.” This course examines the development and spread of racial slavery in the Atlantic basin from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Our focus therefore is on the period of European overseas expansion and colonization in the Americas, and one of our primary goals will be to assess the role of racial slavery in the success of the European colonies in the Americas. We will also develop an understanding of black slave life across the Americas, with an eye toward illuminating the ways the institution of slavery–and life within that institution–varied across place and time, as well as identifying common themes of racial slavery that transcended place and time.

I am very excited to see what kinds of materials students develop to share here!

6 thoughts on “Colonialism, Race, and Slavery

  1. Stephanie, I doubt I’m the first, or last person to contact you about this; but you and I share a surname. I’m a white, native Tennessean. It’s tearing my heart out, but I have to ask: Were the Smallwoods slaveowners? This is the type of thing you can’t find out on I do know that in the rural area my immediate family lived in for 4 generations or more, no person of color has lived within the county lines for well over 150 years – and the same is still (quite understandably) true today. Stephanie, I know it’s none of my business, but where do you trace your Smallwood name back to?

    Completely at odds, on my mother’s side, the “one drop law” would have applied, as one of my maternal ancestors was Ethiopian…

  2. This will be great. I loved the Wiki from EFS for HSTCMP 258, so I can only imagine where this will go. I will visit frequently.

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