James T. Campbell

Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History

At Stanford Since

B.A., Yale University; M.A. Stanford University; Ph.D Stanford University

Research Interests

My research focuses on African American history and the wider history of the black Atlantic.  I am particularly interested in the long history of interconnections and exchange between Africa and America, a history that began in the earliest days of the transatlantic slave trade and continues into our own time.  In recent years, my research has also moved in the direction of so-called “public history.”  I am intrigued by the ways in which societies tell stories about their pasts, not only in textbooks and academic monographs but also in historic sites, museums, memorials, movies, and political movements.

Courses taught

  • Slavery and Freedom in American History
  • The Politics of Retrospective Justice
  • The Harlem Renaissance
  • History and Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement
  • The Life and Work of W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Celluloid America: History and Film



book cover from Songs of zionSongs of Zion:  The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa  (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1995)





Book cover of Middle PassagesMiddle Passages:  African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005  (New York:  The Penguin Press, 2006)





Book cover of Race, Nation, and Empire in American HistoryRace, Nation, and Empire in American Life  (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2007)  (co-edited with Matthew Guterl and Robert Lee)





Select articles

  • “The Black Panther Party in History and Memory,” in Jama Lazerow and Yohuru Williams (eds.), In Search of the Black Panther Party:  New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement  (Durham:  Duke University Press, 2006).
  • “Beyond the Pale:  Jewish Immigrants and the South African Left,” in Milton Shain and Richard Mendelsohn (eds.), Memories, Realities and Dreams: Studies in South African Jewish Experience  (Johannesburg:  Jonathan Ball, 2002).
  • “Redeeming the Race:  Martin Delany and the Niger Valley Exploring Party, 1859-60,” New Formations  45 (Winter 2001), pp. 125-149.
  • “Print the Legend:  John Wayne and Postwar American Culture,” Reviews in American History  28,3 (2000), pp. 465-477.
  • “The Americanization of South Africa,” in Elaine Tyler May and Reinhold Wagnleitner (eds.), Here, There and Everywhere:  The Foreign Politics of American Popular Culture  (Hanover:  University Press of New England, 2000).
  • “Models and Metaphors:  Industrial Education in the United States and South Africa,” in Ran Greenstein (ed.), Comparative Perspectives on South Africa  (New York:  Macmillan, 1998).
  • “Romantic Revolutionaries:  David Ivon Jones, S.P. Bunting and the Origins of Non-racial Politics in South Africa, Journal of African History  39,2 (1998), pp. 181-194.
  • “Life and Legacy of a South African Communist,” Transformations  37 (1998), pp. 84-100.
  • “The Invention of Race:  Rereading White Over Black” (co-authored with James Oakes), in Stanley I. Kutler (ed.), American Retrospectives:  Historians on Historians  (Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995).
  • “Towards a Transnational Comparative History,” in Shula Marks, Hilary Sapire and Rick Halpern (eds.), Beyond White Supremacy:  Towards a New Agenda for the Comparative Histories of South Africa and the United States  (London:  Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 1997), pp. 37-46.
  • “Like Locusts in Pharaoh’s Palace:  The Origins and Politics of African Methodism in the Orange Free State,” African Studies  53,1 (1994), pp. 147-149.

Public history

  • Chair, Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, 2003-2006.
  • “The Voyage of the Slave Ship Sally, 1764-1765” a digital archive on the voyage of a Rhode Island slave ship, built in collaboration with Brown’s Scholarly Technology Group and Center for Digital Initiatives.  (http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/sally/)
  • “Freedom Now:  An Archival Project of Brown University and Tougaloo College,” a digital archive of the Mississippi Freedom Movement, built in collaboration with Susan Smulyan, Ernie Limbo, the Scholarly Technologies Group, and student researchers from Brown and Tougaloo College.  (http://www.brown.edu/freedomnow)
  • Historical consultant for Slavery, an illustrated encyclopedia for juvenile readers, forthcoming from DK Publishers.
  • Historical consultant for “U.S.S. Constellation:  Battling for Freedom,” a film on the U.S. Anti-slavery Squadron, Indigo Films, premiered on History Channel, February, 2007.
  • Historical consultant for three U.S. Department of Education Teaching American History Grants, co-sponsored by the Rhode Island Historical Society and local school districts in Providence, East Providence, and Burrillville, Rhode Island.
  • Historical consultant for a high school curriculum, Forgotten History:  The Slave Trade and Slavery in New England  (Providence:  Watson Institute Choices Program, 2005).
  • Historical consultant for the Civil Rights Living Memorial Project, an ongoing professional and curriculum development project for Mississippi public school teachers, sponsored by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, University of Mississippi, 2005-2007.
  • Historical consultant for Echoes of Brown:  Documenting and Performing the Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education, a collaborative project of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and students from the city’s public schools, book and dvd published by the Teaching for Social Justice Series, 2004.
  • Historical consultant for a high school curriculum, Freedom in Our Lifetime:  South Africa’s Struggle  (Providence:  Watson Institute Choices Program, 2003).
  • Historical consultant for a documentary film series, “This Far by Faith:  African-American Spiritual Journeys,” Blackside Pictures, premiered on P.B.S., June, 2003.

Awards and fellowships

  • Community and Justice Award, Rhode Island for Community and Justice, for work with Brown University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, 2007
  • Finalist, Pulitzer Prize in History, for Middle Passages:  African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2006, 2007
  • Mark Lynton History Prize, Columbia School of Journalism and Nieman Foundation, Harvard University, for Middle Passages, 2007
  • Lois P. Rudnik Prize, New England American Studies Association, for Middle Passages, 2007
  • Brown University Undergraduate Council of Students Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2006-07
  • Fellow, Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University, 2003-04
  • Fellow, Charles Warren Center for American History, Harvard University, 2000-01
  • Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for Songs of Zion:  The A.M.E. Church in the United States and South Africa, 1996
  • Carl Sandburg Literary Award for Non-Fiction for Songs of Zion, 1996
  • Faculty Honor Roll for Teaching, Northwestern University, 1995-96
  • Fulbright African Regional Research Fellowship, 1992-93
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 1992
  • Charlotte Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Grant, 1986-87

Professional Appointments

  • Junior Lecturer in History, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, 1986-87
  • Instructor in History, Stanford University, 1988-89
  • Assistant Professor of History, Northwestern University, 1989-96
  • Senior Research Officer, Institute for Advanced Social Research, University of the Witwatersrand, 1996-98
  • Associate Professor of American Civilization, Africana Studies, and History, Brown University, 1999-2007
  • Professor of American Civilization, Africana Studies, and History,  Brown University, 2007-08
  • Edgar E. Robinson Professor of U.S. History, Stanford University, 2008-