"Capitalism, Race, and Gender" Conference

In 1986, Allan Kulikoff published Tobacco & Slaves, a reassessment of the Chesapeake region exploring how race, class, and gender shaped social relations between white and Black inhabitants of eighteenth-century Virginia and Maryland. Time has hardly diminished the importance of this work and it remains a starting point for scholars of the early modern Chesapeake. Moreover, Kulikoff went on to publish The Agrarian Origins of American Capitalism and From British Peasants to Colonial Farmers, in which he made clear the links between capitalism, race, gender, and agrarian production. This conference aims to honor and build on Kulikoff’s work by highlighting new scholarship that engages similar themes and concerns.

Capitalism, Race, and Gender in the Early Americas: Expanding on the Work of Allan Kulikoff

March 2-3, 2023

Co-sponsored by the Cleveland State University Department of History
and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies

Zoom only
All times are Eastern time


Thursday, March 2

1:45 p.m.-2:00 p.m.                           Welcome

Emma Hart (McNeil Center for Early American Studies and University of Pennsylvania)

Thomas J. Humphrey (Cleveland State University)


2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.                           Panel 1: Kulikoff and Capitalism

Chair: Andy Shankman (Rutgers University-Camden)

Holly Brewer (University of Maryland, College Park)
“Capitalism and Slavery: Centering Policy and Privilege within Frameworks of ‘Economic Development’”

Tom Cutterham (University of Birmingham)
“Marx and the Yeoman Class”

Henry Snow (Rutgers University-New Brunswick)
“‘So bountiful is the Creator, to make that most for our interest, which is most our duty’: Plantation Violence and the Creation of Capitalist Self-Interest”

Response: Allan Kulikoff (University of Georgia)


Friday, March 3

10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.                         Panel 2: Gender and Racial Capitalism

Chair: Aaron Fogleman (Northern Illinois University)

Lila O’Leary Chambers (University of Cambridge)
“Gendering Racial Capitalism in Atlantic Britain: Women Investors in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1670-1750”

Joanne Jahnke-Wegner (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)
“Indigenous Women, Land Dispossession, and Racial Capitalism”

Emily Sackett (University of Virginia)
“‘The country ill peopled’: Population and the Demographic Turning Point in English Plantation Colonies”

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.                        Break


12:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m.                         Panel 3: Labor and Markets

Chair: Simon Middleton (The College of William and Mary)

Louis Bissieres (University Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne, IDHES)
“Perceptions of the Market in Rural America during the Early Republic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland)”

Susan Branson (Syracuse University)
“The Fabric of Empire: Wool, Labor, and Markets in Early America”

Whitney Fields (Rutgers University-New Brunswick)
“‘Carry them to gaole’: Race and Incarceration in Colonial and Early National Philadelphia”


2:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.                            Break


2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.                           Panel 4: Race, Law, and Mobility

Chair: Simon Newman (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Nicole K. Dressler (The College of William & Mary)
“‘his native Right Liberty and freedom’: Black Convict Transportation, Servitude, and Freedom in the British Atlantic World”

James Gigantino (University of Arkansas)
“Harry’s Journey to New Jersey: The Early Pacific World and Definitions of Northern Slavery”

Christine Mertens (Leiden University)
“Black Mobility in Post-Revolutionary Virginia, 1780-1806”

Sarah Winsberg (Brooklyn Law School)
“Hiring the Enslaved: Custom, Bailment, and Slavery’s Commercial Law”


4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m.                            Break


4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.                           Reflections

Chair: Thomas J. Humphrey (Cleveland State University)

Dan Du, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Alisha M. Cromwell, Albany State University

The Audience

Final Word: Allan Kulikoff (University of Georgia)


To register for the conference, please CLICK HERE.

Your registration confirmation will include access information for the conference materials.