Greg Childs

IMG_1929 I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Brandeis University. I completed my Ph.D. at New York University in 2012, where I specialized in the history of the African Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean. I am particularly interested in the formation of black political life and knowledge productions by people of African descent in the Americas and the Atlantic World. I am currently completing a book entitled, Seditious Spaces, Public Politics: The Tailor’s Conspiracy of Bahia, Brazil and the Politics of Freedom in the Revolutionary Atlantic. In this work I examine the relationship between resistance by persons of African descent and the development of public opinion in the last decades of the eighteenth century. At the center of this project is a movement to end racial discrimination and Portuguese rule that was organized and promoted in public spaces throughout the Brazilian city of Salvador da Bahia by free men of color in 1798. The book thus registers a call for understanding public spheres according to critical geography and not just critical discourse analysis. I am also at work on a second project tentatively titled “The Madness of Blackness, or the Confinement of Freedom in the Post-Emancipation Era.” This project traces the development of ideas and practices that linked freedom from slavery with mental insanity across the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Brazil, Cuba, and the U.S. South. I am seeking to understand two things in this work. First, why did slavery become a site for debating the relationship between madness and freedom in the phase of nation-state formation? Secondly, in an effort to move beyond only analyzing white discourses of black mental illness, this project asks how we should understand social practices and relationships between black health practitioners and mental patients in this era.

At Brandeis, I teach introductory survey courses on Latin America and the Caribbean, Slavery and Freedom, as well as seminars such as “Resistance and Revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean” and “Writings on the Wall: Histories of Graffiti in the Americas.” At the graduate level I teach the Department of History’s “Introduction to Doctoral Studies” on a rotating basis, and will in subsequent years also offer courses on “The Violence of Gender,” “Historical Fiction and Representations of Slavery,” as well as a course on “Madness and the Macabre in Historical Writing.”

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