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Serena Zabin

Professor Zabin is a historian of early America and the early modern Atlantic world. She is particularly interested in the ways that ordinary people had an impact on such immense and invisible institutions as empire, early capitalism, and Atlantic networks.  Her first monograph, Dangerous Economies: Status and Commerce in British New York, examines New York’s culture and commerce in the first two thirds of the eighteenth century, when Britain was just beginning to catch up with its imperial rivals, France and Spain. In that sparsely populated city on the fringe of an empire, enslaved Africans rubbed elbows with white indentured servants while the elite strove to maintain ties with European genteel culture. In this book as well as in The New York Conspiracy Trials of 1741: Daniel Horsmanden’s “Journal of the Proceedings.” (Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 2004), a volume intended for the undergraduate classroom, Zabin uses a suspected slave conspiracy in New York City to show the ways that commerce undermined the simple divisions of black and white, enslaved and free often associated with early America. 

Professor Zabin’s current research project is a cultural and social study of the occupation of Boston that led to the Boston Massacre in 1770.  Both this project and her previous work on New York grew out of her first-year seminar entitled “Trials in Early America.”

Professor Zabin came to our department in 2000 as an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in early American history. In 2002 she accepted our very first full-time position in early American history.  Professor Zabin teaches classes on British colonial America, the American Revolution, the early republic, and the Atlantic World. A former classicist, she has also published scholarly and pedagogical materials on the ancient Mediterranean.