I am a historian of the Caribbean, with particular interests in Jamaican history, Caribbean cultural history, comparative histories of slavery and emancipation, and gender history. In 2012 I am on research leave, funded by an AHRC fellowship, working on my book The Cultural Politics of Obeah, to be published by Cambridge University Press.
I did my first degree, in history, at Warwick University. I then went to Yale University to do a PhD, graduating in 2000. My dissertation, 'No Bond but the Law: Punishment and Justice in Jamaica's Age of Emancipation' was supervised by Emilia Viotti da Costa, Gilbert Joseph, and Nancy Cott.
Caribbean history especially Jamaica; history of slavery and emancipation; gender history; comparative history of the Americas, colonial and postcolonial histories.
My main current research is on the cultural history of obeah, a Caribbean creole spiritual healing practice that has been illegal for most of its history. My research examines competing constructions of obeah in law, medical knowledge, colonial discourse, and popular culture, using them as a window onto debates about race and nation in the region. The research has been funded by a British Academy small grant and a Leverhulme Project grant, and will be supported by an AHRC research fellowship in 2012. With the support of the Leverhulme Trust, Maarit Forde and I organized a conference entitled Obeah and Other Powers: Rethinking Caribbean Religion and Healing at Newcastle in 2008. Some of the work presented at that conference was published by Duke University Press in 2012, in a book entitled Obeah and Other Powers: The Politics of Caribbean Religion and Healing. My monograph on obeah will be published by Cambridge University Press.
I also maintain my interest in state formation in Jamaican history and Caribbean history more broadly.
I welcome applications to work on any area of Caribbean history, and on histories of slavery and emancipation and/or gender history elsewhere in the Americas. I also welcome students interested in interdisciplinary Caribbean Studies.
I am currently supervising Helen McKee's PhD project comparing the Jamaican Maroons and the Creeks, funded by the AHRC, and Janelle Rodriques PhD on Obeah in Caribbean Literature. Silvia Espelt Bombin completed her PhD under my supervision in 2010.
I teach the following modules, although not all of them run every year:
HIS1046: History of the Americas
HIS2034: The Rise and Fall of Atlantic Slavery
HIS2039: The Modern Caribbean
HIS3001: The Haitian Revolution (special subject)
HIS3013: Slave Emancipation in the British Empire (special subject)
HIS3010: Writing History
MA History of the Americas