Research Thursdays - National Endowment for the Humanities Funds Historian’s Research

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021
Jason Sharples, Associate Professor of History

Image: (l-r) Jason Sharples, image by Martha Stewart; detail from Mapa topografico de la Florida lo dibuxo Pedro Diaz ano de 1769, Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University

Jason Sharples, Associate Professor of History, has received 12 months of research support from the National Endowment for the Humanities through an Award for Faculty at Hispanic-Serving Institutions. The fellowship will support archival research and writing for his book project “Tangled Roots: Florida’s Revolving Empires and the Opportunities of Changing Borders, 1760-1830.” He is one of 21 scholars nationally to win an NEH Award for Faculty. 

Sharples will use the fellowship to show that “colonial Florida offers an alternative origin story for the United States.” He points to the importance of roots in the Caribbean, Latin America and Native America, as well as the better-studied anglophone North America. He points out that these influences became “tangled” as successive empires -- Spain, Britain, Spain (again), and the US -- claimed the territory. National Endowment for the Humanities Funds Historian’s ResearchImages: (l-r) Mapa topografico de la Florida lo dibuxo  Pedro Diaz ano de 1769; Mico Chlucco the Long Warior or King of the Siminoles, Published 1791 by James and Johnson;  St. Augustine. Engraved for Luffman’s Select plans. Engrav’d & Publish’d Jany. 1.1802, by J. Luffman. London; Both images Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University

The research project is organized around three pivotal moments of transition between those empires: 1763, 1784, and 1821. At each moment, he asks, how did inhabitants and newcomers -- indigenous people, enslaved people, free people of color, and settlers -- experience the change in governance and take advantage of overlaps and tensions between imperial powers? And how did a new colonizing power attempt to govern a “foreign” people who had established roots and transformed the landscape, economy, customs and Native American diplomatic relations? The answers speak to the common historical phenomenon of conquered and annexed territories and illuminate how people conceived of, and used, subjecthood and citizenship when borders moved.

This project has also received support from the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan and the Special and Area Studies Collections Department of the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida.

Read the NEH press release here:

National Endowment for the Humanities

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this research do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment  for the Humanities.



This is Sharples’ second major research project. The first resulted in the book:
The World That Fear Made: Slave Revolts and Conspiracy Scares in Early America .

Learn more about Jason Sharples’ research here:

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