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Brett Rushforth

Brett Rushforth profile picture
  • Title: Associate Professor and Department Head
  • Phone: 541-346-5913
  • Office: 313 McKenzie Hall
  • Office Hours: Fall 2018: Tuesday 10:00 a.m.–noon (or by appointment)
  • 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 Papers and Lectures

  • “‘She Said Her Answers Contained the Truth’: Hearing Enslaved Voices in the Judicial Records of New France,” Slave Narratives in British and French America, 1700-1848, London, July 2017.
  • “Social Life and Political Economy in a Caribbean Slave Rebellion: Martinique, 1710,” University of California, Los Angeles, May 2017.
  • “‘Daily Traffic with the Frenchmen’: Merchant Colonialism and African Sovereignty in the Sixteenth Century,” University of California, Santa Cruz, May 2017.
  • “Burning St. Pierre: Political Life and Political Economy in a Caribbean Slave Uprising,” Rocky Mountain Seminar in Early American History, Salt Lake City, April 2017.
  • “Monopolizing Violence: African Slave Trading Companies and the End of Indian Slavery in the French Atlantic,” American Historical Association, Annual Conference, Denver, January 2017.
  • “How French Was the Early Modern Atlantic World (and How Atlantic was Early Modern France)?” University of Notre Dame, September 2016.