AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership,AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series. The members featured in this column have been randomly selected and then contacted by AHA staff. If you would you like to nominate a colleague for the AHA Member Spotlight, please contact Nike Nivar.
Bronwen Everill is assistant professor of global history at the University of Warwick in the U.K. She lives in London and has been an AHA member since 2009.
Alma mater/s: King’s College London (PhD), Oxford University (MSt), Harvard College (AB)
Fields of interest: African global history (18th-20th century); Atlantic history; American empire; British empire; economic and trade history; cultural history of imperial contact and settlement
When did you first develop an interest in history?
Very young! My parents got me “American Girl” dolls from the age of 6 and I attended Felicity’s Tea Party in Colonial Williamsburg at age 8. We also went to battlefields on family holidays. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t engrossed in a history (or historical fiction) book. My interest in African history specifically grew after reading Things Fall Apart and Poisonwood Bible in high school English, and I was introduced to Atlantic history as an undergraduate in a very inspiring seminar class.
What projects are you working on currently?
My first book, Abolition and Empire in Sierra Leone and Liberia, is due out with Palgrave Macmillan at the beginning of December. The book investigates the development of settler society in these two colonies in the mid-19th century, looking at the creation of expansionist rivalries and their impact on the relationship between Britain and America in this period. I am also editing a second book, The History and Practice of Humanitarian Intervention and Aid in Africa, due out next year, also with Palgrave Macmillan. I’ve also just started research on a new project on ethical consumption and trade in the late 18th- and early 19th-century Atlantic.
What is the last great book or article you have read?
I’m currently reading Toby Green’s new book, The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300–1589 (Cambridge, 2012), which I’m really enjoying so far. It’s such a great example of some of the exciting new work on African global connections that has been emerging in the past decade, including Joseph Inikori’s Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England (Cambridge, 2002).
Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?
Around job search time, there’s no better book to read than Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim. John Lewis Gaddis’s Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (2002) is probably my favorite book to get me inspired about history when I’m feeling a bit down about it. This was a book assigned to me as an undergrad, but which has stuck with me as a great book to dip in and out of ever since.
I am also one of the writers for the blog phdoctopus.com—check us out!
What do you value most about the history profession?
I value our mix of skills and activities. We are so privileged to be able to combine teaching, archival research, attending conferences, and reading. All of these parts of the job are rewarding and stimulating in their own ways, and it’s great when they combine serendipitously— coming across the best anecdote from the archive which can be used in a lecture or seminar; teaching historiography and then finding that it applies to your own reading that week or changes the way you were thinking about a piece of evidence; attending a conference and finding out about an unknown archive or long-lost (but relevant!) dissertation to add to the reading list.
Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?
No specific anecdote, but it’s great to be able to catch up with old friends every year!
Other than history, of course, what are you passionate about?
Running, attending classical music concerts as much as I can, travelling, and eating great food.