Ashli White, professor of history at the University of Miami, explores the circulation of material culture during the American, French, and Haitian revolutions and argues that radical ideals in the eighteenth century were contested through objects as well as in texts. In this lecture on her new book, Dr. White considers how revolutionary things brought people into contact with these transformative political movements in visceral, multiple, and provocative ways. Focusing on a range of objects—ceramics and furniture, garments and accessories, prints, maps and public amusements—Dr. White shows how material culture held political meaning for diverse populations. Enslaved and free, women and men, poor and elite—all turned to things to realize their varied and sometimes competing visions of revolutionary change.
About the Speaker
Ashli White is a professor of history at the University of Miami (FL). She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University and specializes on early American history, with particular attention to the connections between North America and the Atlantic world. To date, most of her research has concentrated on the political, social and cultural history of the age of revolutions. She is the author of several books including Encountering Revolution: Haiti and the Making of the Early Republic (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), that explores the far-reaching impact of the Haitian Revolution on the early United States. It won the 2011 Gilbert Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies and the Institut Français d’Amérique. She is the recipient of fellowships from the American Council for Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others, and was associate curator of Antillean Visions: Maps and the Making of the Caribbean (Lowe Art Museum, February-May 2018), an exhibition that charted over five hundred years of mapping the region. The exhibition’s multilingual catalog received the 2019 Katharine Kyes Leab & Daniel J. Leab Award from the American Library Association.