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Brett Rushforth

Brett Rushforth profile picture
  • Affiliation: faculty
  • Title: Associate Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-5913
  • Office: 311 McKenzie Hall
  • Affiliated Departments: Black Studies
  • Interests: Early American History/Colonial America


Brett Rushforth is a scholar of the early modern Atlantic world whose research focuses on comparative slavery, Native North America, and French colonialism and empire. His first book, Colonial North America and the Atlantic World: A History in Documents (co-edited with Paul W. Mapp), uses primary documents to trace the history of North America in its Atlantic context from the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. His second book, Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France, examined the enslavement of American Indians by French colonists and their Native allies, tracing the dynamic interplay between Native systems of captivity and slavery and French plantation-based racial slavery. In 2013, Bonds of Alliance was named the best book on American social history by the Organization of American Historians (Curti Award), the best book on French colonialism before 1848 by the French Colonial Historical Society (Boucher Prize), the best book on the history of European expansion by the Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction (FEEGI Biennial Book Prize), and the best book on French history and culture by the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Duke University (Wylie Prize). It was also one of three nominated finalists for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize for the best book on the history of slavery. He is currently completing, with Christopher Hodson, a book titled Discovering Empire: France and the Atlantic World from the Age of Discovery to the Age of Revolutions, which explores the relationships between Africans, Native Americans, and Europeans across four centuries, from roughly 1400 through Haitian independence in 1804.

Professor Rushforth works with graduate students in the fields of comparative slavery, early America, early modern Atlantic world, African diaspora, legal history, and Native American history. Before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon, he taught for a decade at the College of William and Mary and was senior academic staff at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. From 2012 to 2017 he was the book review editor of the William and Mary Quarterly.

Recent and Forthcoming Publications

  • The Gauolet Uprising of 1710: Maroons, Rebels, and the Informal Exchange Economy of a Caribbean Sugar Island,” William and Mary Quarterly 76 (January 2019), 75-110.
  • Water Is Life,” Review of Joshua Reid, The Sea Is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs; Andrew Lipman, The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Contest for the American Coast; Nancy Shoemaker, Native American Whalemen and the World: Indigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race; and James Fairhead, The Captain and “the Cannibal”: An Epic Story of Exploration, Kidnapping, and the Broadway StageReviews in American History (forthcoming, December 2019).
  • “Next Stop, Honoré-Beaugrand: Connections, Dislocations, and Redirections,” in Robert Englebert and Andrew N. Wegmann, French Connections: Cultural Mobility in North America and the Atlantic World (forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press, 2020).
  • “‘She Said Her Answers Contained the Truth’: Listening to and with Enslaved Witnesses in the Judicial Records of New France,” in Sophie White and Trevor Burnard, eds., Slave Narratives in the British and French Atlantic Worlds (forthcoming from Routledge, 2020).
  • “Les plusieurs esclavages du Canada avant 1800” [“The Many Slaveries of Canada before 1800”], in Claude Chevaleyre, Paulin Ismard, Benedetta Rossi, Cécile Vidal, eds., Histoire mondiale de l’esclavage (forthcoming from Éditions du Seuil, 2020).
  • “African Slave Trade Monopolies and the Suppression of Native Slavery in the Americas,” in Paul Polgar and Marc Lerner, eds., Creating Racial Slavery in the Atlantic World (revisions in progress: forthcoming from University Press of Mississippi, 2021).