January 16, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Baker Grant Enables Kinkel’s Research on Disciplining the Empire in 18th Century Atlantic

Dr. Sarah Kinkel

Dr. Sarah Kinkel

Dr. Sarah Kinkel, Assistant Professor in the History Department, received one of five Baker Fund grants awarded during the Fall 2016 cycle.

Kinkel received approximately $11,000 in research funds. Endowed in 1961 by a gift of more than $612,000 from 1926 College of Arts & Sciences graduate Edwin L. Kennedy and his wife, Ruth, a 1930 graduate of the College of Education, The John C. Baker Fund at Ohio University was established to support faculty improvement and research efforts. Up to $12,000 is available for each award.

The Baker Award makes possible a final set of trips to complete the research for Kinkel’s first book, Disciplining the Empire: Politics, Governance, and the Navy in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic (under contract with Harvard University Press). More specifically, the funds will facilitate two research trips: one to archives in Dublin, Belfast, and London; the other to the Clements Library at the University of Michigan.

In Dublin and Belfast, she will examine the papers and correspondence of a variety of imperial politicians and administrators (including the Duke of Bedford, the Marquess Townshend, the Earl of Halifax, and the Earl of Hillsborough, all of whom were involved with colonial governance in multiple ways). In London, Kinkel will reading the colonial State Papers—the official record of correspondence—of Caribbean colonies such as Jamaica, Barbados, and the Leeward Islands for further evidence of the Navy’s role in suppressing and defeating rebellions of enslaved populations. At the Clements Library, she will be studying the papers of William Knox and the Earl of Shelburne, a powerful administrator and leading parliamentarian, respectively.

According to Kinkel, “This research—which I will carry out in summer 2017—is intended to more fully embed the book’s existing discussion of the North American colonies in a broader Atlantic imperial context, particularly Ireland and the Caribbean.

“Regarding Ireland, several of the same individuals who oversaw the tightening of discipline in the Navy in the 1740s and the increased centralization of governance over the North American colonies in the 1760s–1770s were also involved in governing Ireland. My previous research into the role of the Navy in India suggests that political parties tended to view the empire as a coherent whole and to pursue similar policies throughout. However, Ireland is in some ways a more useful comparison to the North American colonies than India: Ireland also walked a fine line between being a colony of settlement versus a colony of overlordship. At times, American colonists feared the central administration intended to make them “another Ireland.”

Regarding the Caribbean, my preliminary research has indicated that many white planters supported a greater naval presence in large part to prevent rebellions of enslaved people. This may provide one important explanation for why the British imperial policies of the 1760s and 1770s sparked a revolution in North America but not the Caribbean.”

Kinkel hopes to use this research to complete her book by providing a more nuanced discussion of the experiences of North American colonists in the context of the broader empire.

As Kinkel put it, “It will allow me to further develop a comparative perspective on the way that American colonial perceptions and debates regarding the proper relationship between civilians, the state, and the military fit into wide-ranging conversations taking place in the Anglo-Atlantic intellectual and political community.”

For more on Kinkel’s research and teaching, visit her department profile.


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