OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Wendy Warren

Portrait of Wendy Warren

Wendy Warren is an associate professor at Princeton University. She specializes in the history of colonial North America and the early modern Atlantic World. She is particularly interested in the day-to-day practice of colonization, and in the negotiations and conflicts that exist between would-be rulers and the unruly. She joined the Princeton history department after holding a junior research fellowship at Christ Church College, Oxford University. Professor Warren's first book, New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America (2016), described the lived experience of chattel bondage in seventeenth-century New England, illuminating the deadly symbiosis between slavery and colonization in the Atlantic World. New England Bound won the 2017 Organization of American Historians' Merle Curti Social History Prize, and was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Berkshire Conference Book Prize, and the Harriet Tubman Prize. She has also published in the Journal of American History, the William and Mary Quarterly, and Slavery and Abolition, among other venues. Professor Warren is currently writing "The Carceral Colony," an exploration of the role of prisons in the colonization of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century North America.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

This case study of the rape, for breeding purposes, of an enslaved African woman who was bought by one of the earliest English colonists in Massachusetts, asks us to understand how people -- African and English -- experienced slavery in the earliest years of English colonization.
Prisons are understood to be a modern phenomenon, an improvement over colonial punishments like stoning and pressing and hanging and tongue-skewering. But prisons were, in fact, used as punishment in the colonial period, too. And they had the same problems then as they do now: racialized sentences, disproportionate burdens on the poor, and extra danger for female prisoners, etc. This lecture explains how prisons built the colonial state, and how that state is linked to today's carceral state.
This lecture explains how slavery was crucial to the building of all English colonial societies, even in the far-flung Puritan colonies of New England. By centering the lives of enslaved people who found themselves in the region alongside Pilgrims and Puritans, the lecture broadens our understanding of the lived experience of chattel slavery.