Stephanie Smallwood: Areas of Graduate Study

For more on Dr. Smallwood's publications, scholarly interests and contact information, please see her faculty page.

Division: Africa & the Middle East

Students may work with Professor Smallwood to develop a field in African history focused on sub-Saharan Africa in the pre-colonial period. The field broadly encompasses the economic, political, and socio-cultural history of African societies before c. 1880, with special attention to Africa's evolving relationship to the West, and slavery and slave trading both within sub-Saharan Africa and across desert/ocean boundaries. Students will work in consultation with Professor Smallwood to develop a course of study that balances historiographic coverage and thematic/conceptual agendas specific to their individual needs and interests.

Division: United States

Students preparing a field in United States history with Professor Smallwood will focus on the territory's social and cultural history in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Major themes students are expected to explore in depth include European exploration, cartographic representation, cultural interactions among Native American, European, and African peoples, and racial slavery.

Division: Comparative History (Comparative Colonialisms)*

Students may work with Professor Smallwood to develop a field in Comparative Colonialisms that focuses on early modern Atlantic history. The field examines European colonial regimes in the Americas, commercial and cultural ties between Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and free and coerced migrations within the Atlantic arena. Special attention is given also to methodological and theoretical discourses relating to the study of comparative history and epistemological critiques of "modernity."

Students working in this field are encouraged to consult with other appropriate faculty specialists in African history, early modern European history, colonial Latin American history, as well as those offering other specialized fields within the Comparative Colonialisms rubric.

*Students may not offer a field in the Comparative History division as a first field.



Spring 2015

HSTCMP 530: Comparative Colonialisms

The History graduate seminar in Comparative Colonialisms is meant to introduce students to the historiography of modern European and American colonialisms, focusing on western colonial interventions in Africa, Asia and the Americas.  The seminar also aims to familiarize students with the various methodological and conceptual approaches to the study of such themes as the relationship between colonialism and capitalism; violence and the rationalization of colonial power; the colonial construction of racial, ethnic, class, gender and sexual categories of identity; and the modalities of resistance against colonialism.

In the Spring 2015 iteration of this seminar we will focus specifically on “Colonial Constructions of Race.” We begin from a starting place that recognizes the phenomenon of “race” as one that expresses the dynamic production and operation of socially constructed categories of difference that have been key tools in the exercise and rationalization of projects of colonial domination across the globe in the early modern and modern eras. Our goal will be to interrogate the workings of racial construction across a wide range of colonial settings, so as to better understand the inner logic of racial categorization, the different kinds of work that racial categorization does in varying colonial sites, and how these express historically changing relationships of domination and resistance. Our readings will include the work of both theoretical and historical analyses of the workings of race in colonizing projects. Among the authors whose work we will consider: Kathleen Brown, Aimé Césaire, Joyce Chaplin, Frederick Cooper, Stuart Hall, María Elena Martínez, Michael Salman, Vanita Seth, Ann Stoler, and Patrick Wolfe.


Winter 2015

HSTAA 521: American History: Writings and Interpretations

HSTAA 521 is the first of a two-quarter sequence whose primary goal is to introduce the variety of methods and conceptual and theoretical approaches that shape U.S. history scholarship.  HSTAA 521 aims to foreground some of the key historiographic conversations framing scholarship on the four centuries from the start of European colonization in the Americas through the nineteenth century.  Without pretending provide a comprehensive survey of the colonial period and nineteenth century, this course uses both older and newer canonical texts to explore central themes including colonialism and empire; nation formation; the construction and intersection of race, gender, and class-based axes of power and identity; and the social relations that shaped everday experiences in the early American past.