Dexter Gabriel

Let’s Talk about the 1619 Project

Let's talk about the 1619 project with Prof Dexter Gabriel. For UConn undergraduates, March 23, 2022, 2:00pm, HBL 4-209.

Let’s Talk about…

The 1619 Project

with Prof. Dexter Gabriel (Assistant Professor, History & Africana Studies, UConn)

March 23, 2022, 2:00pm. Homer Babbidge Library, 4-209.

This is an honors event.

The CLAS Dean’s office and UCHI invite UConn undergraduates to participate in a discussion group about the 1619 Project—an initiative to rethink the history of the United States led by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times Magazine. Professor Dexter Gabriel will lead the discussion and help guide students in this important dialogue about reframing national history, the legacies of American slavery, and the controversies surrounding the 1619 Project. The first 40 students to register will receive a free ebook of The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, and all participants are invited to attend Nikole Hannah-Jones’ talk at the Student Union Theater on March 30th.


20 Years of Fellows: Dexter Gabriel

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Headshot of Dexter Gabriel2018–2019 Faculty Fellow Dr. Dexter Gabriel is Assistant Professor of History at UConn. He earned his B.A. in history from Texas State University-San Marcos, an M.A. in history also from Texas State University-San Marcos, and his Ph.D. in history from Stony Brook University-New York. His research interests include the history of bondage, resistance, and freedom in the Black Atlantic, as well as interdisciplinary approaches to slavery within popular culture and media. His current research explores British Emancipation in the Anglo-Caribbean and its impact on abolitionist strategies in nineteenth-century North America. His work has been translated into the social arena through panel discussions, lectures, articles, and interviews as diverse as the Federal Reserve Bank of Virginia to Voice of America, BBC America, and elsewhere

What was your fellowship project about?

I was working on turning my dissertation into a book manuscript for submittal. Titled Jubilee’s Experiment, it explored the impact of British Emancipation on American abolitionism in the 19th century.

Would you give us an update on the project?

The manuscript is currently under contract with Cambridge University Press.

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

I was able to use that invaluable time to really think through my project. Dissertations are inherently different from book manuscripts, and I was able to go about the process of trying to imagine what those differences were and how they could coalesce into a working narrative.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

Sitting and sharing tea, coffee, and dessert with other fellows—talking about our work, the challenges we were facing, and just talking about academic life in general.

What are you working on now (or next)?

Finishing up for final submission of the book manuscript. Next up, research for a book project on African American emigration to the Caribbean during the 19th century.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges we’re facing comes ironically from our success. Thanks to technology today, we can both access knowledge and disperse it in ways before unimagined. We are quite literally in an age of boundless information. At the same time, interpreting that information, discerning fact from fiction, and outright misinformation, has become a serious problem. What gives promise is that despite these challenges, it does show that people are still curious about the world around them, about the past, and their place in the world. I don’t think that quest for knowledge is disappearing from the human experience any time soon.

Four Questions with Dexter Gabriel

Headshot of Dexter Gabriel

1. Tell us a bit about the project you are working on at UCHI.

My current project, Jubilee’s Experiment: The British West Indies and American Abolitionism, examines the ways in which the emancipated British Caribbean colonies entered into the debates over abolition and African-American citizenship in the United States from the 1830s through the 1860s. It analyzes this discourse as both propaganda and rhetoric, created by abolitionists, black and white, and African-Americans more generally, in antebellum America.

2.What drew you to this topic and what exciting developments are you anticipating?

This was a public discourse, taking place in newspapers, pamphlets, manuscripts, speeches, and even public spectacles. The most prominent of these were annual memorials of British Emancipation. These were held every August 1, primarily in the Northeast. It was coming across a poster for one of these events that first drew me to the topic, as I wanted to know why thousands of American abolitionists and reformers were celebrating the end of slavery in the British West Indies. What did it mean to them? Why did they think it important? What were they hoping to accomplish? As part of my project, I’m working on digitally mapping these August First commemorations as they took place throughout New England. It will be interesting to see what information they provide about attendants, mass mobilization, and social movements in the nineteenth-century.

3. What are you looking forward to in regard to this year at UCHI?

First, I’m looking forward to getting work done on the manuscript. I’m grateful that the fellowship will allow me the space and time needed towards that goal. I’m also looking forward to engaging with the other scholars in residence, and the chance to work, dialogue, share and exchange ideas within a vibrant intellectual community.

4. Many people wonder what value the humanities and humanities research has in today’s world. What are your thoughts on what humanities scholarship “brings to table?”

The humanities remain a fundamental part of a liberal arts education. It helps us explore the human experience and provides a better understanding of both our own society and the world we live in. Within my own work, research into the history of slavery and emancipation helps us understand how people in the past grappled with the immense moral issues of their day—and perhaps offer some insight into how we might do the same in our time.