I am in the final year of my PhD program in Atlantic History at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. My dissertation examines the ways in which groups of Gold Coast Africans, such as the Ahanta and Fetu, negotiated their power in the Atlantic slave trade by pitting European slave traders against one another. Using cross-analysis of the English, Dutch, German, and Swedish language documents of these traders, I argue that these African strategies contributed to the breakdown of mercantilism and the emergence of early modern free trade capitalism.
My background in Religious Studies at the University of Stirling in Scotland is what helped prepare me for this interdisciplinary project and the methodologies it requires. At the undergraduate level, I completed an ethnographical study on the ritualized nature of Scotland’s Anarchist Road Protest Movement for my honors thesis, which drew heavily on anthropological, sociological, historical, and economic theory. As the critical study of religion borrows theoretical frameworks and methodologies from several different fields, constructing such a thesis prepared me for my current doctoral dissertation project. My background has encouraged me to move beyond the disciplinary tools of my field to find the most suitable approaches for its implementation.
I am currently funded by the generous dissertation finishing fellowship of the ACLS/Mellon, and completed my research in the archives of the UK, Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden through grants from Vanderbilt University, the Max Kade Center for European Studies, and the Fulbright program to the Netherlands. When I am not writing my dissertation, I consult on a historical film about John Paul Jones, and I blog about topics of historical relevance for the History Compass Journal at http://exchanges.history-compass.com/author/suttonangela/.