Christopher L. Brown

Christopher L. Brown

Research Interest


D. Phil. — Balliol College, Oxford University 1994
B.A. — Yale University 1990

Interests and Research

Christopher Brown is a historian of Britain and the British empire, principally in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with special emphasis on the comparative history of slavery and abolition, and with secondary interests in the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Age of Revolutions.  His current research centers on the history of European experience on the African coast at the height of the Atlantic slave trade, and continues early commitments to the rise and fall of slavery in the British Empire.  Published work has received prizes in four distinct fields of study – American History, British History, Atlantic History, and the history of Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance.  Completed projects include Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism (University of North Carolina Press) and, with Philip D. Morgan, Arming Slaves: Classical Times to the Modern Age (Yale University Press).  He has written as well for The Nation, The New York Times, and the London Review of Books, among other outlets.  

Brown came to Columbia University in 2007, after eight years on the faculties of Rutgers University and The Johns Hopkins University.  At Columbia, he has served as the Director of the Society of the Fellows in the Humanities (2011-2017), Chair of the University-Wide Tenure Review Advisory Committee (2014-2015), and as the inaugural Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (2015-2018).  At the graduate level, he trains doctoral students in a wide range of fields, including the British Empire to 1815, Early Modern Britain, Colonial America, Atlantic History, and the Comparative History of Slavery in the Americas.  In 2016 he received the Faculty Mentoring Award from the University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for excellence in supervising doctoral students during their years of graduate study.    


  • Slavery in World History
  • The Atlantic Slave Trade
  • The British Empire
  • Contemporary Civilization II
  • England and the Wider World, 1500-1800
  • Comparative Slavery and Abolition
  • Imperial Britain


  • Frederick Douglass Prize from the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale University - 2007
  • Morris D. Forkosch Prize from the American Historical Association - 2006
  • James A. Rawley Prize from the American Historical Association - 2006
  • Douglass Adair Memorial Award for the best article published in the William and Mary Quarterly - 2004
  • Second Decade Society Chair, The Johns Hopkins University - 2003
  • Omohundro Institute Fellow at the Huntington Library, San Marino, Ca. - 2001
  • ABC-Clio America: History and Life Award from the Organization of American Historians - 2001
  • Senior Fellow. Gilder Lehrman Center for the study of Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance - 2000
  • National Society, Daughters of Colonial Wars for best essay published in the William and Mary Quarterly in 1999 - 2000
  • Raoul Wallenburg Fellow. -Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis - 1998
  • Mayers and W. M. Keck Foundation Fellow. - Huntington Library, San Marino, California - April, 1996
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Early American History and Culture - 1996
  • National Finalist for White House Fellowship - 1994
  • Jowett Senior Scholarship. -Balliol College, Oxford - 1992
  • Roosevelt L. Thompson Award for Community Service at Yale University - 1990
  • Rhodes Scholarship - Washington D.C. - Maryland - 1990


  • The American Historical Association
  • North American Conference on British Studies
  • Associates of the Omohundro Institute of Early American
  • History and Culture
  • Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies
  • Association of Caribbean Historians
  • Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction



Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism

Arming Slaves: From the Classical Era to the Modern Age

Scholarly Articles

“Slavery and Antislavery,” in Nicholas Canny and Philip D. Morgan, eds., Oxford Handbook on the Atlantic World, c. 1450-1820. (Oxford, 2011) 602-617.

“The Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade,” in Trevor Burnard and Gad Heuman, Routledge History of Slavery (Routledge, 2010) 281-297.

“Empire Without America: British Plans for Africa in the Era of the American Revolution,” in Derek Peterson, ed., Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic, 84-100 (Ohio University Press, 2010) 84-100.

“Slavery and Antislavery, 1760-1820,” in Oxford Handbook on the Atlantic World, c. 1450-182.

“The British Government and the Slave Trade: Early Parliamentary Enquiries,1714-1783” in The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and the People. pp. 27-41, 2007.

“Christianity and the Campaign Against Slavery and the Slave Trade,” in The Cambridge History of Christianity ? Volume VII: “Enlightenment, Revolution, and Reawakening, 1660-1815,” pp. 517-535, 2006.

“The Arming of Slaves in Comparative Perspective,” in Arming Slaves: From the Classical Era to the Modern Age, co-edited with Philip D. Morgan pp. 330-353, 2006.

“From Slaves to Subjects: Envisioning an Empire Without Slaves, 1772-1834,” in The Oxford History of Blacks in the British Empire, pp. 114-140, 2004.

“The Politics of Slavery,” in The British Atlantic World, pp. 214-232, 2002.

“Empire Without Slaves: British Concepts of Emancipation in the Age of the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, LVI, 2, pp. 273-306, 1999.