A Distinguished Professor of history at UCLA, Carla Pestana holds the Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World there; from 2018 until 2022, she served as department chair. She attended graduate school at UCLA, where she studied with Appleby as well as Gary Nash. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, Pestana taught at the Ohio State University, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her research focuses on revolution, religion, and empire in early America and the English Atlantic world, and she frequently returns to the Quakers, the subject of her first publication. Her teaching covers these topics as well as pirates and witches, among other subjects. Her most recent books include Plymouth Plantation in the Atlantic World (2020), The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell's Bid for Empire (2017), Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World (2009), and The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640–1661 (2004). She has blogged for the Huffington Post.
Plymouth Plantation is famous in the United States as a site of beginnings, and its image revolves around vignettes drawn from the first year: signing a document to set up self-government, stepping onto shore, meeting a native man, celebrating a thanksgiving meal. All these images rely on the idea that pious settlers arrived in an isolated location where they endured hardship. How does their undertaking appear different if we acknowledge that they were intensely connected to (as well as quite like) other places in the Atlantic world?