Jenna Gibbs

Tandem Fellow in Global and Trans-Regional History
German Historical Institute
1607 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington DC 20009
Phone +1.202.387.3355

Biographical Summary

Jenna M. Gibbs is Associate Professor of History at Florida International University, where she teaches American and Atlantic history. Her first book, Performing the Temple of Liberty: Slavery, Theater and Popular Culture in London and Philadelphia (1760s-1850s) (Johns Hopkins, 2014), explores how the debates for and against slavery were performed in theatrical and related print production on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the long revolutionary era. She has published numerous articles closely related to the interstices between race, slavery and performance. She is also the co-editor, with Keith Baker, of Life Forms in the Thinking of the Long Eighteenth Century (University of Toronto, 2016), a volume that offers provocative new interpretations of Enlightenment ideas of nature, science, society, and history. This year at the GHI, Gibbs will be working on two books: her forthcoming monograph, The Global Latrobe Family: Evangelicalism, Slavery, and Empire (1750s-1850s), which centers on the tension between Protestant evangelicals’ commitment to missionizing enslaved and indigenous peoples based on the fundamental premise of human spiritual equality, yet their complicity with slavery, the displacement of indigenous peoples’ land and cultures, and imperial expansion and governance. She is analyzing these issues through three generations of one family: the Latrobes, a family of French Huguenot descent who converted to the German evangelical Moravian sect. She will also be completing the work on an edited volume in progress, “Let Us All Unite”: Global Missions, Print, and Communication Networks (1730s-1930s), successfully proposed to Routledge Press to appear on a series about global religion. Gibbs and binational tandem fellow Sünne Juterczenka will also co-organize a conference at the GHI, “Maritime Missions: Religion, Ethnography, and Empires in the Long Eighteenth Century,” a global purview of the period’s imbricated scientific and religious missions.

Main Areas of Interest

Gibbs is broadly interested in the transnational interrelationships between religion, culture and politics, with special emphases on race, slavery, and indigeneity.  Most of her scholarship is situated in the Sattelzeit between the 1750s-1850s and engages with some of the critical transformations of this epoch: Western colonial expansion, settlement, and the concomitant displacement of indigenous peoples world-wide; the interrelated spread of evangelical Protestantism; the spread of slavery and the development of scientific racist ideologies to support it; and the far-reaching ramifications of the democratic revolutions that helped inspire slave-trade abolition, emancipation, and debates about humanitarianism.