Philip D. Curtin tag

In Memoriam: Philip D. Curtin, 1922–2009

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Pillarisetti Sudhir writes on the American Historical Association Blog:

Curtin started his long teaching career as an assistant professor back at Swarthmore College. He then moved to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Here he teamed up with colleague Jan Vansina to help launch and develop the hitherto neglected field of African history, and started a department of African languages and literature (the first such department in the United States). With a series of pathbreaking publications such as The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census, which raised new questions even as it set new standards for accurate cliometrics of a complex past, The World and the West: The European Challenge and the Overseas Response in the Age of Empire, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History, and The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780–1850 (which received the AHA’s Schuyler Prize), Curtin made himself a name as a brilliant historian who broke away from the dominant Eurocentric models of historiography of other continents to create a critical and pioneering body of scholarship on Africa, the Atlantic world, the British empire, and comparative history. As if responding to the tug of the Atlantic (and perhaps a love of the sea rooted in his tenure with the Merchant Marines) reflected in his works, Curtin moved to the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1975, where he became the Herbert Baxter Adams Professor of History.

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