Present and future research interests:
My research focuses on the social, intellectual, constitutional, and religious history of North America from 1600-1865.
I have been interested in the contested role of the Scottish Enlightenment and Scottish evangelicalism in America during the long-eighteenth century, particularly the career of John Witherspoon.
• Confederal and federal ideology in the American and Caribbean colonies, 1607-1776. •The nexus between early-American history and Atlantic history. • Notions of freedom and un-freedom in the American colonies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. • The impact of the 1707 Act of Union on American theories of union, disunion, and confederation. • The Church of Scotland and the North American colonies. • Anglo-Scottish unionism and the Spanish borderlands in Florida and California, c. 1660-1776. • Intellectual, legal, and religious origins of the American Revolution. • Religion and the American Revolution in the Atlantic World. • Enlightenment and religion in the early American republic. • Scottish common sense philosophy, evangelicalism, and the literary culture of early nineteenth-century America. • Moral philosophy and the question of American slavery from the colonial era to the US Civil War. • 20th century and contemporary political thought (including the Tea Party movement) and the American founding.
A secondary interest relates to the role of Anglo-American religion in the history of Sudan. I am part of the ‘Protect Darfur’ coalition, and have written about the genocide that continues to take place in Sudan.
A third related research interest highlights the importance of historical study in the promotion of “ancestral health” principles (an understanding of the human diet as a primary means to prevent chronic “diseases of civilization”, the mixed used of land rather than mono-cultured crops, and an evolutionary understanding of human well-being). I try to understand how studying the history of early America – particularly contact between Native Americans (Indians) and Europeans from the 1500s – can inform students and the wider community about the nature of ancestral health principles. I am excited to address the Ancestral Health Symposium meeting at University of California, Berkeley in August 2014, on this research project.