Capitalism and Slavery
with Christian Crouch
Offered in partnership with the New-York Historical Society
Monday, January 13, 2020

This master class will explore the intimate links between U.S. wealth inequality and the violent racial subjugation that generated profits throughout four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade and the pre-Civil War North American plantation-industrial complex. Besides probing the symbiosis of chattel slavery and mass production, we will consider slavery’s legacy of repressing the political and economic aspirations of enslaved and free people of color, the financial implications of abolition and emancipation, and the propriety of acknowledging the lived experiences of enslaved men, women, and children in any discussions of capitalism and slavery. While the primary focus will be on the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the discussion will also consider the issue of contemporary reparations.

Christian Ayne Crouch is Associate Professor of Historical Studies and Director of American Studies at Bard College. She is the author of the award-winning Nobility Lost: French and Canadian Martial Cultures, Indians, and the End of New France, and her scholarship has delved into the Atlantic military culture, French imperial legacies, and the intersection of Native and African-American history and material culture. Her current book project, Queen Victoria’s Captive: A Story of Ambition, Empire, and a Stolen Ethiopian Prince, reevaluates East African colonial encounters and the human consequences of the world’s most expensive hostage rescue mission.









This slideshow requires JavaScript.





Photos by Pat Swain.






“It was exciting to explore such an important topic in depth and detail. Professor Christian Crouch was amazing, brilliant in her conception and framing of ideas, and prepared to give examples and details that extended my understanding and added to the nuances of the issue.”
Margaret Silver, Bank Street School for Children


Assigned readings:

Berry, Daina Ramey. The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave in the Building of a Nation. Boston: Beacon Press, 2017. 33-57.
Johnson, Walter. River of Dark Dreams Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013. 244-279.
Morgan, Jennifer L. “Partus Sequitur Ventrem: Law, Race, and Reproduction in Colonial Slavery.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 22, no. 1 (March 1, 2018): 1–17.
Rosenthal, Caitlin C. “How Slavery Inspired Modern Business Management.” Boston Review, August 17, 2018.
Smallwood, Stephanie. Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008. 153-181.


Master Class Fellows