Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo
Evelyn Green Davis Fellow
Harvard University
River of Dark Dreams: Slavery, Capitalism, and Imperialism in the Mississippi Valley's Cotton Kingdom

Walter Johnson is the Winthrop Professor of History and professor of African and African American studies at Harvard University and director of the Project on Justice, Welfare, and Economics. His first book, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market (Harvard University Press, 2000)—which used the slave market as a window into the fantasies, fears, negotiations, and violence that characterized American slavery—received numerous awards, including the Frederick Jackson Turner Award and the John Hope Franklin Publication Prize. He has since written a series of essays about social and historical theory.

During his fellowship year, Johnson will complete “River of Dark Dreams: Slavery, Capitalism, and Imperialism in the Mississippi Valley’s Cotton Kingdom.” Without giving up the focus on the immediate experience of slavery and mastery that characterized Soul by Soul, this book will embed the history of slavery in the United States in the histories of global capitalism (especially the cotton trade and the Atlantic money market) and US imperialism (the Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican War, and the illegal invasions of Cuba and Nicaragua in the 1850s).

After receiving degrees from Amherst College and the University of Cambridge, Johnson earned his PhD from Princeton University. He was a professor of history and chair of the American Studies department at New York University. He is a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow and has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
Photo by Tony Rinaldo