The core of the Agrarian Studies Program’s activities is a weekly colloquium organized around an annual theme. Invited specialists send papers in advance that are the focus of an organized discussion by the faculty and graduate students associated with the colloquium.
This topic embraces, inter alia, the study of mutual perceptions between countryside and city, and patterns of cultural and material exchange, extraction, migration, credit, legal systems, and political order that link them.
It also includes an understanding of how different societies conceive of the spatial order they exhibit. What terms are meaningful and how are they related?: e.g., frontier, wilderness, arable, countryside, city, town, agriculture, commerce, “hills,” lowlands, maritime districts, inland. How have these meanings changed historically and what symbolic and material weight do they bear?
Samantha Payne is a Research Associate with the Program in Agrarian Studies. She received her Ph.D. in History from Harvard University in 2022. Her scholarship focuses on the history of slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World. She is currently working on her first book, The Last Atlantic Revolution (under contract with University of North Carolina Press), which explores the Atlantic history of Reconstruction in the United States, Cuba, and Brazil, the last societies to abolish slavery in the Americas. The dissertation upon which the book is based was awarded the 2023 Allan Nevins Prize for the best dissertation in American history from the Society of American Historians. It also won the Betty Unterberger Dissertation Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) and an honorable mention for the Harold K. Gross Prize for best dissertation from the Harvard History Department. A selection of this project has been published in Past & Present, winning the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians’ Prize for best article in any field of history, and an honorable mention for the Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize from SHAFR. The project has been supported by the Gilder Lehrman Institute, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Southern Historical Collection, the American Historical Association, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the University of São Paulo, among others.