Walter Hawthorne

WALTER HAWTHORNE is a Professor of African History and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs in the College of Social Science at Michigan State University. His areas of research specialization are Upper Guinea, the Atlantic, and Brazil. He is particularly interested in the history of slavery and the slave trade. Much of his research has focused on African agricultural practices, religious beliefs, and family structures in the Old and New Worlds. His first book, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves: Transformations along the Guinea-Bissau Coast, 1400–1900 (Heinemann: 2003), explores the impact of interactions with the Atlantic, and particularly slave trading, on small-scale, decentralized societies. His most recent book, From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity, and an Atlantic Slave Trade 1600-1830 (Cambridge: 2010), examines the slave trade from Upper Guinea to Amazonia Brazil.  He has published in a range of scholarly journals such as Journal of African History, Luso-Brazilian Review, Slavery and Abolition, Africa, Journal of Global History, and American Historical Review.

He is heavily involved in digital scholarship and has partnered with MATRIX, MSU’s digital humanities center, for a number of projects. He recently helped complete work on a British-Library funded archival digitization project in The Gambia. Documents from the project are available online. He has also worked on an ongoing NEH-sponsored project titled Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network, which is an online database with information about the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World. Another NEH-sponsored project that he is central to is titled Islam and Modernity. That project has developed a site for the publication of texts, images, interviews, and interpretive essays, examining the practice of Islam in West Africa.