Katharine Gerbner

Photo of Katharine Gerbner

Contact Me


Room 1110 HellerH
271 19th Ave S

My research explores the religious dimensions of race, authority, and freedom in the early modern Atlantic world. My book, "Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), shows how debates between slave-owners, black Christians, and missionaries transformed the practice of Protestantism and the language of race in the early modern Atlantic World. I am currently at work on a few different projects. One, entitled “Constructing Religion, Defining Crime,” examines how some non-European religions – particularly those that were practiced under slavery – have been excluded from the category of religion and criminalized over the past three centuries. A related project investigates the religious and medical practices of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, paying particular attention to obeah. I am interested in how Afro-Caribbean ideas about healing, prayer, and worship influenced the construction of European categories such as religion and medicine. I have also been working on an article about Missionaries and Maroons, which takes a micro-historical look at how and why maroon leaders sought to create alliances with Christian missionaries.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • PhD: History of American Civilization, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2013.
  • AM: History, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2009.
  • BA: Religion, Columbia University, New York, NY, 2006.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Atlantic World
  • Early American History
  • Comparative Early Modern History
  • Religion
  • History of Race
  • Global Christianity
Courses Taught
  • HIST 3285: Magic and Medicine
  • HIST 1301: Early American History
  • HIST 3960: Missionary Encounters: Evangelism and Empire in the Early Modern World
  • HIST 5960: Food, Magic, Medicine: History of the Atlantic World
  • HSem 3038 History of Slavery through Literature and Film
  • HIST 8250 The Early Modern Archive
  • Missionary Encounters in the Atlantic World: Gerbner, Katharine, Karin Vélez, Journal of Early Modern History, 21 , 2017.
  • Theorizing Conversion: Christianity, Colonization, and Consciousness in the Early Modern Atlantic World. Gerbner, Katharine, Author, 2015. Download
  • “‘They Call Me Obea’: German Moravian Missionaries and Afro-Caribbean Religion in Jamaica, 1754-1760: Gerbner, Katharine, Atlantic Studies , 12 160-178, 2015. Download
  • Beyond the ‘Halfway Covenant’: Church Membership, Extended Baptism, and Outreach in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1656-1667: Gerbner, Katharine, The New England Quarterly, 85 281-301, 2012.
  • Antislavery in Print: The Germantown Protest, the ‘Exhortation,’ and the Seventeenth-Century Quaker Debate on Slavery,: Gerbner, Katharine, Early American Studies, 9 552-575, 2011. Download
  • The Ultimate Sin: Christianising Slaves on Seventeenth Century Barbados: Gerbner, Katharine, Slavery & Abolition, 31 57-73, 2010. Download
  • We are against the traffik of men-body’: The Germantown Quaker Protest of 1688 and the Origins of American Abolitionism: Gerbner, Katharine, Pennsylvania History, 74 149-172.
  • McKnight Land Grant Professorship, 2018 - 2020