Brown Bag Lecture:  “Geology, Slavery, and Sectionalism in the 1830s Gulf South”

Brown Bag Lecture icon
Date: March 26, 2013
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event Type: Open to the Public
Fee: Free
RSVP Online: No Registration Required

A talk by Cameron Strang

Slavery was central to the work and theories of geologists in the 1830s Gulf South. Planters and their wives patronized geological expeditions, slaves collected fossils that redefined the continent’s geohistory, and the plantation economy generated networks that made field work and the circulation of specimens possible. More important, geological theories produced in the Gulf South justified and encouraged plantation slavery. This talk looks specifically at a theory of the Earth that incorporated contemporary understandings of geohistory to fashion a proslavery argument while also suggesting how planters could engineer the Gulf South’s geological structure to make the region’s environment more like those of Caribbean sugar islands. In contrast to historians who have used the writings of northern geologists to explore the relationships between science, religion, and society in the United States on the whole, this paper emphasizes that early American geology developed in a highly sectional context.

Cameron B. Strang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently completing his dissertation, “Entangled Knowledge, Expanding Nation: Science and the United States Empire in the Southeast Borderlands, 1783–1842.” He is currently a fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and has received support from the Library of Congress, the National Science Foundation, and the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science.

About Brown Bag Lectures

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of weekly informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of CHF staff and fellows and interested members of the public.

For more information, please call 215.873.8289 or e-mail

Register for an event link

Need Meeting Space?

CHF’s state-of-the-art conference center is in Philadelphia’s beautiful historic district.

Brown Bag Lecture Series

Enjoy a bring-your-own brown-bag lunch while listening to CHF scholars share their research.

Fellowships at CHF

CHF’s scholars, who spend anywhere from one to nine months in residence, form a vital part of CHF’s intellectual life.

Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.