Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Congratulations to Christine Sears on Book Publication!

The history department congratulates Dr. Christine Sears on her forthcoming book, American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western Sahara, 1776-1820, soon to be published with Palgrave Macmillan. In this book, Christine argues that Americans captured by Barbary pirates and shipwrecked in the Western Sahara endured slavery and that a careful, focused examination of these slaveries has not been conducted yet. Because these slaveries differed so much from U.S. slavery, some contemporaries and modern scholars have been reluctant to categorize their experiences as “slavery.” Christine maintains that U.S. slavery was an outlier when placed in the context of world history, and thus should not be used as a measure against which to judge all slaveries. To understand these seemingly “peculiar institutions,” she uses a two pronged approach. First, instead of conflating centuries and locations, she individually examines Algerian and Western Saharan slavery during the years of the early American republic. Second, she uses a comparative framework, contrasting the African enslavement of Americans and Europeans to slaveries in the Mediterranean, Ottoman world, and the United States. Her work illuminates the commonalities and the peculiarities of different slaveries and contributes to a growing body of literature that showcases the flexibility of slavery as an institution. Kudos to Christine!

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