The Zamani Reader

On West Africa, Britain, and the West Indies in the Eighteenth Century


Devin Leigh

Article on the Coromantee and Edward Long Published in Slavery & Abolition

Dear readers,

Today, I was fortunate to have my article published in the academic journal, Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies. The article is called “The origins of a source: Edward Long, Coromantee slave revolts, and The History of Jamaica.” It explores how an eighteenth-century planter and historian, named Edward Long, developed some knowledge of Africans in Jamaica, and then re-purposed and deployed that knowledge in the British abolitionist debates. Broadly speaking, the article has relevance for anyone who is interested in Jamaica, African Studies, and the British anti-slavery movement in the eighteenth century. More specifically, the article has relevance for anyone who is interested in the Gold Coast Diaspora, Tacky’s Revolt, and Edward Long. This essay began two years ago, in the fall of 2016, as a research paper for an article-writing seminar at UC Davis. After two years of intensive researching, re-thinking, writing, and editing, I am pleased to be able to share it with you. I want to thank everyone who helped me make the essay possible, including numerous readers, editors, and colleagues.  Finally, I would also like to thank all of the scholars whose work I built upon.

Thanks. If the article interests you, please reach out and let me know.


Link to “The origins of a source” in Slavery & Abolition

Download a PDF version of “The origins of a source” here

Introducing “HIS 115A: West African History. The History and Memory of the Transatlantic Slave Trade”

Dear readers,

I am thrilled to announce that over the summer I was approved to teach my new course at UC Davis this coming Winter Quarter. The course is officially designated as “HIS 115A: West African History.” It is a special topics course about “The History and Memory of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.” I could not be more excited to teach this course. This was the class that I designed during Fall Quarter, 2017, to satisfy requirements for my minor field in the PhD program here at Davis. I have amended the syllabus a bit because the original design was for a semester-long course and Davis only teaches in quarters. However, as of yesterday, the syllabus for the course is complete. I am sure that I will be making changes over the next couple of months but, nonetheless, I wanted to share the syllabus with you today. I have attached it below in PDF, along with a separate “Lab Schedule.” This shows the primary sources that I am considering assigning for our weekly lab exercises. If you or anyone you know are a UC Davis student and might be interested in taking the course, please sign up! Or if you are a student of African History who wants to offer some advice or criticism, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am always looking for ways to improve my classes and give my students the best experience possible. Finally, I have also used a copy of the course flier as the image for this post. I hope you like it. Enjoy!

HIS 115A Syllabus

HIS 115A Lab Schedule

HIS 115A Flier

Syllabus for Independent Study — “West African Ethnographies and Histories of the Eighteenth Century”

Dear readers,

The 2017-2018 school year is starting this Wednesday, September 27. Even though I completed all of my graduate seminar work last spring, I will be taking one more class this fall. This class is an independent-study course (also known as a directed-readings course) in order to fulfill the requirements for my minor in African History. Getting a minor is one of the three main benchmarks for third-year students in the PhD program at Davis. (The other two benchmarks are passing the comprehensive examinations and proposing the dissertation prospectus.)

Every student in the UC Davis doctoral History program must complete a minor. To do this, students select a field of History that is different from their major field. Then, they find a professor who is willing to supervise their minor project. The student meets with that professor for a designated period of time–usually a quarter or so–and they discuss the contours of the field while they read some of its major works. Afterward, the student conceives of and writes up a syllabus for a hypothetical undergraduate course in that field, as well as a “justification paper” that explains the choices they made in creating the syllabus. He or she then submits both of these materials to their minor professor and, hopefully, the professor approves of them and grants the student their minor. (By the way, a student cannot move on to their dissertation prospectus unless he or she has successfully completed the minor, so this part of the process is kind of crucial.)

Overall, the purpose of the minor field is to make students more versatile, both in their knowledge of History as a discipline and in their prospects for a job after graduation. Studying a second field in detail gives students greater perspective on their own field of research. Also, having a syllabus in a secondary field ensures that graduating students will have another option about what they can teach once they are placed in a new job. As I am told, the syllabus is a helpful tool to have when job hunting. Obviously, universities hire new faculty with the intention of having them teach in their major-field areas; yet, a graduate might come off as a more-competitive candidate in the interview room if he or she can present and explain a syllabus of their own creation for another field of History entirely. Ideally, the university would see an added benefit in hiring a professor who feels comfortable teaching in more than one field of History.

So, what am I doing? At the end of last year, I finally came to the conclusion that I would pursue my minor in African History. I approached one of the UC Davis History professors who specializes in African History at the beginning of the summer, and I asked if they would supervise my minor project. Thankfully, they agreed, and they recommended that we take this independent-study course together to prepare. I spent the last month of the summer drafting a syllabus for this course and, after some revisions with the professor, a working version is finally complete. I have attached the syllabus to the bottom of this post for you to see. The course is called “West African Ethnographies and Histories of the Eighteenth Century.” I have removed some of the sensitive information, like the name of the professor as well as the time and dates of our meetings. Nonetheless, you will be able to see all of the good stuff: our overall vision for the course, the themes we have decided to focus on, and the works we have decided to read. I might be providing some week-to-week video updates on the course throughout the fall. We’ll see…

Thanks for reading. Best wishes,

West African Ethnographies and Histories of the Eighteenth Century — An Independent Study Proposal (TZR Version 2017)


Book Review Published in the Florida Historical Quarterly

Dear readers, last fall I had the privilege to publish my first book review in the Florida Historical Quarterly. The review is on Indian River Lagoon: An Environmental History. This is a recent monograph by a South Florida historian and primary/secondary school teacher named Nathaniel Osborn. Osborn received his master’s degree in History from Florida Atlantic University in 2012 and Indian River Lagoon is his first book. In the work, Osborn offers a longue durée natural and human history of what he defines as “the most biologically diverse estuarine ecosystem in the United States.” In doing so, he plots out a nuanced story that defies our stereotypical ideas of “natural environment” and “artificial degradation.” Overall, I was very impressed with the work, and I recommend all of those who are interested in either Florida history or American environmental history to read it. I have copied a PDF version of my review below for you to read at your pleasure. My thanks go out to the editorial staff at the Florida Historical Quarterly. I am particularly grateful to Assistant Editor Daniel S. Murphree, who commissioned this review. Enjoy!

Book Review of Nathaniel Osborn’s Indian River Lagoon in FHQ (2016)


The Schedule for the First Annual UC Davis Graduate History Conference is Here!

Dear readers, the organizers for the First Annual UC Davis Graduate History Conference released a copy of the final conference schedule last night, and I have attached it to this post for your perusal. The conference is less than a week away now, and all of us at UC Davis History could not be more excited. As you can see from the program, the organizers have packed both days of the conference full of promising activities. I sincerely hope some of you will be able to come out and join us for what is sure to be a great weekend of coffee, food, discussions, panels, and presentations by an array of special guests hailing from as nearby as UC Davis and from as far away as Universities like Rutgers, in New Jersey, and Wayne State, in Michigan. Hope to see you there! Until then, best wishes.

UC Davis Graduate Conference Program (Final Draft)

Article Published in the 2015 Issue of Tequesta: The Journal of HistoryMiami Museum

Dear readers, I am honored to have one of my historical essays published in the 2015 issue of Tequesta: The Journal of HistoryMiami Museum.  The essay is called “Black Caesar’s Klan: Albert Payson Terhune, the Birth of Miami, and the Cultural Battle for an Old Bahamian Legend.” It discusses how the legend of an Afro-American pirate associated with Biscayne Bay, in Southeast Florida, changed from the homesteading era of Miami during the 1870s to 1890s to the Jim Crow era in the 1910s and 1920s. This is the first article I have published that really gets into a specific period of the legend’s history. The piece will eventually become a chapter of my dissertation, which is entitled “Revenant of the Keys: A History of the Black Caesar Legends of Biscayne Bay, 1688-2015.”

Writing this essay was a sincere joy. I am proud of the way that it turned out, but I cannot take all the credit. The final product bears the imprint of greater minds at all stages of the process. First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone at HistoryMiami Museum for their guidance, especially Editor Paul George, Managing Editor Rebecca A. Smith, Archives Manager Dawn Hugh, and Archives Associate Ashley Trujillo. Next, I would like to thank Professor of History at Loyola University, Chicago, Timothy J. Gilfoyle. I researched and wrote this essay under his supervision, in a seminar course called “HIST 555: American Social and Intellectual History.” I owe Professor Gilfoyle and my graduate colleagues in that course an extraordinary amount of gratitude. I hope that they will err on the side of graciousness when reading the final product, and extend to me the benefit of the doubt. They know this work far better than others. Of course, any mistakes that remain are my own. Last, I would like to thank the staff at the Newberry Library in Chicago, where I did some research for this project, as well as all of my mentors, colleagues, and friends at the University of California, Davis, where I now attend, and Loyola University, Chicago, where I attended at the time this article was composed.

I am truly honored to publish an essay in the 75th edition of Tequesta, especially because this particular issue is devoted to a great historian of Southern Florida, Raymond Mohl, who recently passed away. Just this past Fall, I was researching an essay on Miami historiography for one of my courses at Davis, and I found myself relying very heavily upon Mohl’s work. It became apparent to me quite early in the research process that one just cannot research the topic of Southern Florida without climbing upon his shoulders. And so, I would like to take a moment to echo Paul George’s comments in the forward to this issue, and express both my gratitude for all of Mohl’s work and my sincere regret at his passing. Though I never had the opportunity to meet him, his research has affected me nonetheless. Finally, I would like to thank my fellow contributors to the 2015 issue of Tequesta. Since 1941, Tequesta has been a cultural mainstay of greater Miami, an outlet for upcoming historians of Southern Florida, and simply a great thing to read. I am overjoyed to become a part of that legacy.

Thank you for your support, and best wishes.

Download The 2015 Issue of Tequesta: The Journal of HistoryMiami Museum on

Review of My Recent Article, “Between Swamp and Sea,” by Historian David Fictum

Dear readers, as many of you know, I was fortunate enough to have my first professional article published in a peer-reviewed, academic History journal last July. That article is called “Between Swamp and Sea: Bahamian Visitors in Southeast Florida before Miami,” and it can be ordered through the website of the Florida Historical Quarterly. Now, one of my friends and colleagues, David Fictum, has been kind enough to write a short review of my article for his blog Colonies, Ships, and Pirates. Many thanks to David.

David is an historian of piracy who holds degrees from Gettysburg College and the Graduate Program in Maritime Studies at East Carolina University. As he states on the “About the Author” page of his website, his work focuses on the “Atlantic World in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, with specialties in Maritime History and Pirate History.” Please feel free to check out his review of my article and inquire with the FHQ about obtaining a copy of the article for your own reading. Eventually, the article will be available through virtual databases like WorldCat. Also, please check out the rest of David’s blog, which features great work on piracy for both lay readers and professionals. In particular, his “Recommended Books on Pirate History” offers a strong, concise breakdown of major works in the field.

As always, thanks for your support.

Featured Story on the History Department Website of Loyola University Chicago

Dear readers, this month me and three of my former colleagues were graciously featured in a news story on the homepage of the History Department website at Loyola University Chicago. This news story features short interviews with three of my fellow graduate students–Karen Burch, Carl Ewald, and Katya Maslakowski–as well as myself about what we plan to do now that we have received our master’s degrees in History from Loyola University.

Continue reading “Featured Story on the History Department Website of Loyola University Chicago”

Article Published in the Spring Installment of the Florida Historical Quarterly

Dear readers, I have been fortunate enough to have one of my historical essays published in the spring installment of this year’s issue of the academic journal, The Florida Historical Quarterly. The essay is called “Between Swamp and Sea: Bahamian Visitors to Southeast Florida before Miami,” and it discusses the culture of Bahamian sailors who traveled the Gulf Stream between the Bahamian archipelago and the southeast corner of the Florida peninsula during the early-modern era, between roughly the 1680s and the 1820s.

Continue reading “Article Published in the Spring Installment of the Florida Historical Quarterly”

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: