BioProfessor Gibbs’s research interests are situated in the Atlantic and global world, and in the transnational interrelationships of religion, culture, politics and imperial/indigenous relations in the long eighteenth century (1750s-1850s). Her first book, Performing the Temple of Liberty: Slavery, Theater and Popular Culture in London and Philadelphia (1760s-1850s), explores the crucial role of transatlantic theater and popular culture in steering Anglo-American debates about slavery, concepts of liberty, natural rights, and the nature of blackness.
She is currently working on her second monograph, tentatively titled, Evangelicalism and Empire: The Global Latrobe Family (1750s-1850s), which at its crux engages global imperial-indigenous encounters. The book centers on the tension between Protestant evangelicals’ commitment to missionizing enslaved and indigenous peoples based on the fundamental premise of human spiritual equality, yet their complicity with slavery, the displacement of indigenous peoples’ land and cultures, and imperial expansion and governance. She analyzes these issues through three generations of one family: the Latrobes. The Latrobes were a family of French Huguenot descent who, after being expelled from France in the late 17th century, converted to the German evangelical Moravian sect. Utilizing the Latrobe family to humanize the macro-history of British, American, and German evangelicals’ involvement with enslaved and indigenous peoples. Comparing disparate imperial contexts, this project links familial, local and global imperial history with indigenous and enslaved peoples’ knowledge and agency in responding to European missionizing efforts.
Professor Gibbs teaches courses in American, Atlantic, and Global history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and in Spring 2017 she will be teaching a new undergraduate course, “Global Imperial-Indigenous Encounters 1500 to the present,” which satisfies a global history requirement for history majors but also contributes to the Global Indigenous Forum’s indigenous studies' course offerings. “Global Imperial-Indigenous Encounters,” examines how indigenous peoples and imperial settlers interacted with each other across the globe from the fifteenth century to the present, encompassing case studies from North and South America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, and utilizing indigenous sources—oral histories, memoirs, and art – as well as imperial primary sources, films, and secondary scholarly work