Professor Kathleen Brown

Visiting Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions 2021-22

Kathleen M. Brown is the David Boies Professor of History, a faculty affiliate of Africana Studies and the History and Sociology of Science, and the lead historian on the Penn & Slavery Project.  In 2021-2022 she will be the William Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University, United Kingdom.

Her scholarship has been supported by fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Antiquarian Society, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College.

Brown’s research interests center on intersectional questions of race, gender, sexuality, and labor in colonial North American, Atlantic, and early U.S. contexts. She is the author of two prize-winning books, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race and Power in Colonial Virginia (1996) and Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America (2009).

She is currently completing a history of abolition, Undoing Slavery: Abolitionist Body Politics and the Argument over Humanity (forthcoming, University of Pennsylvania Press), that considers how the campaign to end slavery entangled activists in a complex process of undoing longstanding practices and habits of the body central to that institution. Undoing Slavery incorporates research in legal and medical history to provide a historical understanding of the human body at the center of debates about Black citizenship and the regulations of  Black people’s movements, labor, and reproductive capacity.


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