JENNIFER L. ANDERSON
Associate Professor (Ph.D., New York University, 2007)
Office: SBS S-315
Interests: public history, local history, Caribbean history, issues of race and class, colonialism, labor, material culture, commodities, Atlantic World, environmental history
As an interdisciplinary historian, I have long been fascinated by the interconnections among people, natural environments, and material culture. My book, Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America (Harvard University Press, 2012), explores how the desire for beautiful mahogany furniture in colonial North America had significant human and ecological impacts in the West Indies and Central America where these coveted trees were harvested by enslaved Africans.
My current research investigates historical ties between New York and the Caribbean. One of my recent studies, for example, focuses on several planters who owned estates in both places and moved enslaved Africans between them. In addition, I'm studying specific islands, such as Antigua and Barbuda, to illuminate their social and economic underpinnings, especially with regard to the provisioning of slave populations which involved many Northern producers and suppliers.
While taking this larger context into consideration, my next book (in progress) focuses on Long Island's complex history as a venue where Native peoples, European settlers, and enslaved Africans encountered each other, from the late 17th to early 19th centuries. As the region's agricultural economy developed through trade with the West Indies and later with burgeoning New York City, they all saw their worlds transformed through generations of conflict, compromise, and adaptation. My specific emphases include settler-colonialism, Native American history, changing land uses and maritime activities (and resulting environmental impacts), labor, slavery, abolition, migration, and agricultural innovation.
As an Editor of the Long Island History Journal, I have recently produced special issues highlighting the history of whaling on Long Island and African American & Native American heritage sites in the area. Drawing on my extensive experience as a museum director, curator, exhibition developer, and researcher, I serve as a consultant and advisor to many museums, historical societies, and cultural organizations. I also regularly present educational workshops and public talks on a wide range of topics.