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The Atlantic World (Bronwen Everill)

Atlantic history dates in its present form to an explosion of interest in Atlantic connections in early America in the 1990s. Atlantic history started off as a perspective on early America that was part of a conversation with scholars in related fields in African and Latin American history. It has come to be thought of its most fervent proponents as a full-blown field of study, although I think it offers more for historians if seen in a less imperialist and confrontational mode. Atlantic history should be seen less as a field designed to subsume other, more conventional fields such as nation-based history and imperial history than being a framework and angle of vision in which scholars can see connections between works done in a variety of disparate fields. It is an undeniably popular and trendy field. Indeed, it has become almost as common for students of the British colonies in the Americas to identify themselves as Atlantic historians as to see themselves as colonial or early American historians. The receptiveness of colonial British Americanists for Atlantic history can be seen in the titles of recent books, the enthusiasm for conferences incorporating an Atlantic theme, the reorientation of research institutes with an early British American focus towards Atlantic studies, and the proliferation of courses on aspects of Atlantic history.

Atlantic history has real intellectual clout. Its principal theme – that the Atlantic from the fifteenth century to the present was more than just an ocean, more than just a physical fact but was a particular zone of exchange and interchange, circulation and transmission – is not only true in the sense that these exchanges and interchanges shaped profoundly the texture of life in at least four continents over a very long period of time but is also a conceptual leap forward, allowing historians to make links between place, people and periods that enrich our understanding of the complexities of a vital passage in the development of the world that we all inhabit.


all read:

David Armitage, "Three Concepts of Atlantic History," The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800. New York: Palgrave, 2002; new revised edition, 2009. (PDF Document)

Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston, 2001)

Sven Beckert, 'Emancipation and Empire: Reconstructing the Worldwide Web of Cotton Production in the Age of the American Civil War,' American Historical Review, 109, 5 (2004), pp.1405-1438

Games, Alison. “Atlantic History: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities.” American Historical Review 111 (2006), 741-56.

further readings:

Armitage, David and Michael J. Braddick, eds. The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800. New York: Palgrave, 2002; new revised edition, 2009.

Bailyn, Bernard. Atlantic History: Context and Contours. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Benjamin, Timothy, The Atlantic World: Europeans, Africans, Indians and Their Shared History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Bowen, H.V, Elizabeth Mancke and John Reid, eds. British Asia and the British Atlantic: Two Worlds or One? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Canny, Nicholas, “Atlantic History: What and Why?” European Review 9 (2001), 399-411.

Curtin, Philip D. The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Egerton, Douglas R. et al., The Atlantic World: A History, 1400-1888. Wheeling, Il.: Harlan Davidson, 2007.

“Entangled Empires in an Atlantic World,” American Historical Review 112 (2007), istopr 710-99.

Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993.

Greene, Jack P.. “Comparing Early Modern American Worlds: Some Reflections on a Promise of a Hemispheric Perspective,” and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra. “Some Caveats about the `Atlantic’ Paradigm.” History Compass 1 (2003).

Greene, Jack P. and Philip D. Morgan, ed., Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Pietschmann, Horst, ed. Atlantic History: History of the Atlantic System, 1580-1830. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002.

Reinhardt, Steven G. and Dennis Reinhartz, eds. Transatlantic History. College Station: Texas A & M University, 2006.