History Prof. Publishes Book on Slavery in Cuba | St. Lawrence University

History Prof. Publishes Book on Slavery in Cuba

Evelyn Jennings, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Margaret Vilas Chair of Latin American History, has published “Constructing the Spanish Empire in Havana: State Slavery in Defense and Development, 1762–1835,” the first book-length exploration of state slavery on the island.

Her publisher, LSU Press, will host a virtual event on Facebook featuring Jennings on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 3 p.m. EST as part of their Remote Author Series. She will read and discuss selections from her book.

According to the publisher, “‘Constructing the Spanish Empire in Havana’ examines the political economy surrounding the use of enslaved laborers in the capital of Spanish imperial Cuba from 1762 to 1835. Jennings demonstrates that the Spanish state’s policies and practices in the ownership and employment of enslaved workers after 1762 served as a bridge from an economy based on imperial service to a rapidly expanding plantation economy in the 19th century.”

“‘Constructing the Spanish Empire in Havana’ places the processes of building and sustaining the Spanish empire in the imperial hub of Havana in a comparative perspective with other sites of empire building in the Atlantic world. Furthermore, it considers the human costs of reproducing the Spanish empire in a major Caribbean port, the state’s role in shaping the institution of slavery, and the experiences of enslaved and other coerced laborers both before and after the beginning of Cuba’s sugar boom in the early 19th century.”

Jennings has taught at St. Lawrence since 2002 and was appointed the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in 2017. She has also served as the Associate Dean for Academic Advising Programs. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from SUNY Oswego, a master’s in Latin American history from SUNY Stony Brook, and a Ph.D. in Modern European and Atlantic history from the University of Rochester.

Her research focuses on Spanish colonialism in Cuba with a focus on state enslavement and forced labor in Havana in the 18th and 19th centuries, and she has published several articles and book chapters on forced labor in Cuban and Atlantic history. This is her first single-author book. She recently began a new project on the lives and times of a Cuban elite family, some of who relocated to the United States in the nineteenth century. This project is based on a collection of family letters held in the Special Collections section of the Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence.

At St. Lawrence, Jennings teaches courses on Colonial Latin America, Imperial Spain, Slavery and Freedom in the Americas, Latin American History through Travel, the Caribbean, the U.S. and Cuba, and Atlantic History.