British Association for American Studies


Studentship: 3x PhD Candidates in the History of Slave Refugees in North America, 1800-1860 (University of Leiden)

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Studentship: 3x PhD Candidates in the History of Slave Refugees in North America, 1800-1860 (University of Leiden)

June 22, 2015

3x PhD Candidates in the History of Slave Refugees in North America, 1800-1860

The Faculty of Humanities and the Institute for History (http://www.hum.leiden.edu/history/) at Leiden University (The Netherlands) welcome applications for three four-year PhD positions to conduct research on runaway slaves in North America in the period 1800-1860. The PhD projects are embedded within the new NWO Vidi project “Beacons of Freedom: Slave Refugees in North America, 1800-1860,” supervised by Dr. Damian Alan Pargas (http://www.hum.leiden.edu/history/organisation/staff-history/pargasda.html).

Description of the Project
In North America the landscape of slavery and freedom was radically altered in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, giving rise to waves of asylum-based migration as slaves crossed into various geographic spaces where they hoped to lead lives of freedom. The northern US, Canada, and Mexico all abolished slavery between 1777 and 1834, either gradually or immediately, for example, attracting numerous slave refugees. Yet only in Mexico and Canada did spaces of full legal freedom from slavery emerge on paper, although in practice the meanings of this freedom were contested in a multitude of ways. In the northern US, where state abolition laws were theoretically curtailed by federal fugitive slave laws, sites of freedom for fugitive slaves remained semi-legal (with state and federal laws conflicting), and refugees’ formal claims to freedom were precarious and often contested in the courts. Meanwhile, sites of illegal freedom for fugitive slaves emerged within the slaveholding South itself after a wave of individual manumissions in the revolutionary and early federal periods bolstered free black populations in countless towns and cities across the region, attracting innumerable runaways who attempted to escape their masters by getting lost in the crowd and passing for free.

Drawing from sources such as slave testimonies, runaway slaves ads, newspaper articles, court documents, diplomatic correspondence, and other government records, this project will apply a social-historical approach to examine and contrast the various groups of refugees that sought “beacons of freedom” within North America in the antebellum period (roughly between 1800-1860). It will transcend current scholarly paradigms by providing a continental perspective on refugee migration and innovatively distinguishing between sites of legal, semi-legal, and illegal freedom.

The three PhD projects are divided by region, namely:
1   Slave refugees in the North & Canada
2   Slave refugees in the South
3   Slave refugees in Mexico

Each project will examine four main themes:
1   the motivations for flight and for the choice of various destinations;
2   the networks that facilitated slave flight to various destinations;
3   settlement processes, including refugees’ economic adaptation, the legal development of their rights and status, and their social integration in receiving societies; and
4   the impact of slave flight on local, national, and international discussions on slavery (including local politics and diplomatic relations).

The successful candidates will be expected to:
*Be based at Leiden University for the duration of their appointment;
*Conduct archival research (in Europe and North America);
*Write a PhD dissertation;
*Submit their research results for publication  in academic journals;
*Present their research at workshops and conferences;
*Participate in the PhD training program of the N.W. Posthumus Institute for Social and Economic History (http://www.hum.leiden.edu/posthumus/)
*Help organize and participate in activities of the Leiden Slavery Studies Association; and
*Carry out limited teaching responsibilities in the second and third year of the appointment.

Selection criteria
*The successful applicants will have a Master’s degree in a relevant field of History or American Studies by the time of the appointment;
*The applicants will have each written a high-quality MA thesis that was evaluated with at least an 8.0 (on a 10-point scale) or equivalent.
*The applicants will be well versed in the history of slavery (especially in the New World) and/or antebellum North America.
*The applicants will have excellent oral and written communication skills in the English language.
*The applicant to the PhD project on slave refugees in Mexico will be able to read Spanish sources.
*The applicants will be able to work independently and as part of a team.
*The applicants will be capable of carrying out their research within the allotted 4 years (in the case of a full-time appointment) or 5 years (in the case of an 80% appointment).

Terms and conditions
The three PhD positions are full-time (1.0 fte) and for a period of four years (or 0.8 fte for a period of five years). Initially all employees will receive a one year contract. An extension of three years is possible having received positive evaluations of capabilities and achievements.

Remuneration for a full-time working week will be € 2,125,- gross per calendar month in the first year, increasing to € 2,717- gross per calendar month in the fourth year. An appointment with Leiden University includes a pension build-up and facilitates other benefits such as an annual holiday premium of 8% and an end-of-year premium of 8.3%.
The deadline for applications is 22 June 2015.

Please submit your application letter via e-mail (indicating the vacancy number in your motivation letter and in the subject line of your e-mail) to vacaturesgeschiedenis@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Your application should be written in Dutch or English and include:
•    A letter of motivation that explains why you are a suitable candidate for one of the specific projects;
•    A curriculum vitae (please include your MA title thesis and grade);
•    Your MA degree certificate, or a statement from your MA supervisor that you will have completed the MA requirements before 1 September 2015;
•    Contact information of two scholars who are familiar with your work and whom we may contact directly if we need further information.
As part of the selection procedure, potential candidates will be invited for an interview in Leiden (or skype session) on 2-3 July.

More information
For more information, please contact Dr. Damian Alan Pargas: d.a.pargas@hum.leidenuniv.nl


June 22, 2015
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