Katharine Gerbner

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Personal profile

Research interests

My research explores the religious dimensions of race, authority, and freedom in the early modern Atlantic world. My book, "Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), shows how debates between slave-owners, black Christians, and missionaries transformed the practice of Protestantism and the language of race in the early modern Atlantic World. I am currently at work on a few different projects. One, entitled “Constructing Religion, Defining Crime,” examines how some non-European religions – particularly those that were practiced under slavery – have been excluded from the category of religion and criminalized over the past three centuries. A related project investigates the religious and medical practices of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, paying particular attention to obeah. I am interested in how Afro-Caribbean ideas about healing, prayer, and worship influenced the construction of European categories such as religion and medicine. I have also been working on an article about Missionaries and Maroons, which takes a micro-historical look at how and why maroon leaders sought to create alliances with Christian missionaries.

Research interests

  • Religion
  • Early America
  • Atlantic World
  • Race
  • Slavery
  • Caribbean
  • Missions
  • Empire

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Research Output

Protestant Supremacy: The Story of a Neologism

Gerbner, K., Sep 1 2019, In : Church History. 88, 3, p. 773-780 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Open Access
  • Introduction: Missionary Encounters in the Atlantic World

    Gerbner, K. & Vélez, K., Jan 1 2017, In : Journal of Early Modern History. 21, 1-2, p. 1-7 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  • Open Access
  • "They call me Obea": German Moravian missionaries and Afro-Caribbean religion in Jamaica, 1754-1760

    Gerbner, K., Apr 3 2015, In : Atlantic Studies : Global Currents. 12, 2, p. 160-178 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  • 1 Scopus citations

    Fellowships, Honors, and Prizes

    Institute for Advanced Study Faculty Fellows, Fall 2014

    Elaine Auyoung (Recipient), Mark D Collier (Recipient), Katharine Gerbner (Recipient), Njeri Githire (Recipient) & Dominic A Taylor (Recipient), Sep 2014

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively