Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


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Prizes and Honors

Rushforth, Bonds of Alliance

Brett Rushforth won the 2012–2013 Laurence Wylie Prize in French and Francophone Cultural Studies, awarded by the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Duke University, for Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France. This marks the fourth prize for Bonds of Alliance.

Africans on Either Side of the Atlantic

O'Malley, Final Passages

Appearing in print in August, Gregory E. O’Malley’s Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619–1807 explores a neglected aspect of the forced migration of African laborers to the Americas. Hundreds of thousands of African captives, nearly one in five, quickly boarded a new vessel bound for another colony, within or without the British Empire, after surviving the infamous Middle Passage across the Atlantic. Building on a database of over seven thousand shipments compiled from port records, newspapers, and merchant accounts, Final Passages provides the first scholarly assessment of this intercolonial slave trade. O’Malley identifies and quantifies its major routes within the Americas, arguing that such voyages were a crucial component in the development of slavery in the Caribbean and North America. The implications of this commerce are far-reaching. Not only did it increase death rates and social and cultural isolation of Africans, it also fed the expansion of both British slavery and British trafficking of captives to French and Spanish colonies, contributing to Britain’s preeminence in the transatlantic slave trade by the mid-eighteenth century. The vibrancy of this intercolonial trade compounded the profits to be gained from buying and selling African captives and created a gateway commerce through which individuals and whole empires engaged in multiple business transactions tied to the slave trade. The pursuit of profits from exploiting the enslaved, either as laborers or as commodities to be sold, facilitated exchanges across borders, loosening mercantile restrictions and elaborating capitalist networks. As O’Malley finds, trade in the unfree led empires to experiment with free trade.

Fromont, The Art of Conversion

Cécile Fromont’s The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo, available in December, is the first scholarly analysis of the Kongo Christian visual culture emerging around 1500 after the African kingdom’s initial contact with the Portuguese. Drawing on a broad range of mostly unpublished images and material objects, Fromont highlights the deep engagement of Kongo elites with the politics and economy of the Atlantic world for close to four centuries. By embracing Christianity, the kingdom’s leaders resisted European colonization efforts and remained sovereign until the late nineteenth century. Yet Fromont also pays attention to the ravages of the slave trade and contextualizes the religious worldview of men and women enslaved in the Americas, over forty percent of whom came from this central African polity. Aside from offering a much-needed African perspective on the Atlantic world, The Art of Conversion adds to and recasts the parameters of African art history in the early modern era by exposing the cross-cultural influences and deep historical roots that shaped African material objects.

Forthcoming

For God, King, and People: Forging Commonwealth Bonds in Renaissance Virginia dramatically recasts the first century of English colonial initiatives in America within a late Renaissance view of corporate endeavor to realize God’s kingdom on earth. As struggles in Virginia undermined conforming to this ideal, more secular conceptions of state power marked the resulting debates. Alexander B. Haskell, then, offers a radical revision of the rise of the early modern state, locating it as an outcome, rather than an antecedent, of colonization.

In Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570–1740, Mark G. Hanna analyzes the relationship between high-seas marauding and the political, legal, social, and economic development of fledgling maritime communities in the Caribbean and North America, arguing that contested authority between the peripheries and London over piracy defined the formation of the British Empire.

Jonathan Eacott situates India—both as an idea and a place—at the heart of English imperial ambitions from the early 1600s into the 1800s in his Selling Empire: India in the Making of Britain and America, 1600–1830. This book traces the interconnections between India and America from the earliest days of English colonial expansion, showing that India was as much a driving force for the putative first as it would be for the second British Empire.


All books are available from the University of North Carolina Press.
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