Justin Roberts

Man with glasses smiling at the camera
  • Associate Professor, Hall Professor of British History

Contact Info

Wescoe Hall, Room 3610
Office Hours: In Person
Mon. & Fri. | 2:00 PM - 4:00 pm


Dr. Roberts specializes in the study of slavery in the British Empire. He is currently engaged in a major research project focused on the expansion of slavery across the early English empire in both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans in the seventeenth century. He is also continuing to research and write about slavery in the Danish and Dutch Caribbean worlds. He has published on aspects of racism and plantation slavery and agriculture in the Caribbean and in the United States from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.


Ph.D. in History, Johns Hopkins University, 2009
M.A. in History, Johns Hopkins University, 2006
M.A. in History, Queen's University, 2002
B.A. in History & English , Simon Fraser University, 2001


Research Interests:

  • British Empire
  • Slavery
  • Early Modern Caribbean
  • Economic History
  • Labor History
  • Environmental History


Undergraduate courses at KU:

The Global History of Capitalism

The American Revolution

Slavery in the New World


Graduate courses at KU:

Slavery in the Atlantic World

Undergraduate courses taught at other institutions:

The Global History of Capitalism

History of the Americas: Pre-conquest to the Revolutionary Era

United States History to 1877

George Washington and the American Presidency

Atlantic World, 1450-1650

Atlantic World, 1650-1800

Chattel Slaves & Wage Slaves

Slavery and Freedom in the Americas

Flesh and Bones: Health, Disease and the Body in the British Atlantic

Slavery, War and Piracy in the Early Caribbean

Jamestown and the Era of Discovery, 1492-1644

Wild Coasts and Tulips: The Rise and Fall of the Early Modern Dutch Empire

The American Revolution

Graduate courses taught at other institutions:

Slavery in the Americas

The Atlantic World

The British Atlantic World

The American Revolution

Early Modern Caribbean History

Comparative Global Slavery

Selected Publications


Fragile Empire: Slavery in the Early English Tropics, 1645-1720. New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

Slavery and the Enlightenment in the British Atlantic, 1750-1807. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Articles and Book Chapters:

“The Paradox of Abolition: Plantation Management and Slave Demography in Danish St. Croix, 1792-1804,” with Philip D. Morgan and Rasmus Christensen. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, forthcoming.

“‘Corruption of the Air’: Yellow Fever and Malaria in the Rise of English Caribbean Slavery,” Early American Studies, Early American Studies, 20.4 (Fall 2022): 653-672.

“The Whip and the Hoe: Violence, Work and Productivity on Anglo-American Plantations.” Journal of Global Slavery, 6.1 (January, 2021): 108-130.

“L'ordre de la plantation, Barbade et Jamaïque, XVIIIe siècle” in Histoire Mondiale de l’esclavage, edited by Claude Chevaleyre, Paulin Ismard, Benedetta Rossi and Cécile Vidal, 239-246. Paris: Seuil, 2021.

“Oriented towards the Ocean: The Colonial South,” with Noeleen McIlvenna in Reinterpreting Southern Histories, edited by Craig Thompson Friend and Lorri Glover, 43-71. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2020.

“Gold Versus Life: Jobbing Gangs and British Caribbean Slavery,” with Nicholas Radburn. William and Mary Quarterly, 76.2 (April, 2019): 223-256.

 “The Development of Slave Systems in the British Americas,” in The World of Colonial America: An Atlantic Handbook, edited by Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, 123-149. New York: Routledge, 2017.

“Surrendering Surinam: The Barbadian Diaspora and the Expansion of the English Sugar Frontier, 1650-1675.” William and Mary Quarterly, 73.2 (April, 2016): 225-256.

“Race and the Origins of Plantation Slavery.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, edited by John Butler. New York: Oxford University Press (March, 2016).

“The ‘Better Sort’ and The ‘Poorer Sort’: Wealth Inequalities, Family Formation and the Economy of Energy on British Caribbean Sugar Plantations, 1750-1800.” Slavery & Abolition, 35.3 (September, 2014): 458-473.

“Venturing Out: The Barbadian Diaspora and the Carolina Colony, 1650-1685,” with Ian Beamish in Creating and Contesting Carolina: Proprietary Era Histories, edited by Brad Wood and Michelle LeMaster, 49-72. Charleston: University of South Carolina Press, 2013.

“The Application of GIS to the Reconstruction of the Slave-Plantation Economy of St. Croix, Danish West Indies” with Daniel Hopkins and Philip D. Morgan. Historical Geography 39 (2011): 85-104.

“Uncertain Business: A Case Study of Barbadian Plantation Management, 1770-1793.” Slavery & Abolition, 32.2 (June, 2011): 247-268.

“Working Between the Lines: Labor and Agriculture on Two Barbadian Sugar Plantations, 1796-1797.” William and Mary Quarterly, 63.3 (July, 2006): 551-586.


Recent Blog Posts:

“Philanthropy and Torture: Linking Workhouses and Plantations,” The Collation: Research and Exploration at the Folger (May 2023): https://www.folger.edu/blogs/collation/philanthropy-and-torture/