Peter Kolchin honored for research on U.S. slavery

tags: slavery, Peter Kolchin




When historians study the American South, they do not normally travel to Russia to do it.

 

History professor Peter Kolchin has focused on slavery and the South for most of his career. In his books, Kolchin explores black slavery from its roots in the colonies to the reconstruction period, often using the histories of forced servitude in other countries as points of comparison. To contextualize U.S. slavery, Kolchin has looked at similar systems in the Caribbean, Brazil and Russia.

 

“Russian serfdom was an institution which was in some ways very much like American slavery,” Kolchin said. “It was a system of forced labor, bound labor. Chronologically it was abolished at almost exactly the same time.”

 

Comparative history is central to Kolchin’s study of the South. When he was elected to be president of the Southern Historical Association earlier this month, he knew he wanted to incorporate that approach into his leadership. In the year that he will head the SHA, Kolchin hopes to encourage historians in the organization to do work that contextualizes the South in national and international history, he said....



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