OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Jennifer L. Morgan

Portrait of Jennifer L. Morgan

Jennifer L. Morgan is Professor of History in the department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University where she also serves as Chair. She is the author of the prize-winning Reckoning with Slavery: Gender, Kinship and Capitalism in the Early Black Atlantic (2021); and of Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in the Making of New World Slavery (2004). She is the the co-editor of Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in America (2016). Her research examines the intersections of gender and race in in the Black Atlantic.

Her recent journal articles include “Partus Sequitur Ventrem: Law, Race, and Reproduction in Colonial Slavery,” in Small Axe; “Accounting for ‘The Most Excruciating Torment’: Trans-Atlantic Passages” in History of the Present and “Archives and Histories of Racial Capitalism” in Social Text. In addition to her archival work as an historian, Morgan has published a range of essays on race, gender, and the process of “doing history,” most notably “Experiencing Black Feminism” in Deborah Gray White’s edited volume Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2007).

Morgan serves as the Council Chair for the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture. She is the past-Vice President of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians and is a lifetime member of the Association of Black Women Historians. She lives in New York City.

NEW IN 2021: Reckoning with Slavery: Gender, Kinship, and Capitalism in the Early Black Atlantic (Duke University Press)

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

In this lecture, Morgan explores the connection between enslavement (both in Europe and the early English Atlantic world) and the ideas of privacy, domesticity, and home. Her lecture centers the lives of African women in the households of the elite. She revisists the question of the emergence of the public/private divide, but does so from a black feminist methodological perspective.
In this lecture, Morgan uses a portrait painted in 1585 of an African Women in Bologna, Italy to explore the emerging contours of value and enslavement in Europe and the Atlantic World. Drawing on art history, histories of capitalism, and black feminist methodology, Morgan argues that the painting serves as an entryway for an exploration of an intellectual history of early modern enslaved women.
In this lecture, Morgan builds on the work of her 2021 book Reckoning with Slavery: Gender, Kinship and Capitalism in the Early Black Atlantic. Here she discusses the methodological and archival challenges of writing early black women's history, and offers insight and suggestions concerning how such work shapes our understanding of modern social and economic relations.