Joanne M Jahnke-Wegner
I returned to academia after prior careers as a chef, marketing analyst, and adjunct instructor. Taking the long way, so to speak, has given me extensive experience outside of the academy, but returning to teach as an adjunct reminded me that my greatest passion is history. My time as an instructor at the U and other institutions has underscored this, but I have also learned that my research interests are fed by encounters with students and vice versa--a relationship that has been reinforced during graduate school. My dissertation, Captive Economies: Commodified Bodies in Colonial New England, 1630-1763, traces the evolution and function of multiple, intersecting systems of human trafficking that emerged in colonial New England from the Pequot through the French and Indian War. I explore how captive peoples were circulated by their captors for economic, political, and diplomatic purposes. I argue that along the way, English cultural, legal and theological discourses; Native American captivity practices; and various economic markets all converged at the site of the captive body and, through a process of human commodification, rendered humans fungible commmodities exchangeable for material goods, other human beings, and even three fat sheep.