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Devin Leigh


  • MA in History from Loyola University Chicago (2015)
  • BA in History from DePaul University Chicago (2012)


Devin Leigh is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at UC Davis.

Research Focus

Devin researches the history of the Atlantic World. In particular, he studies connections between West Africa, the West Indies, and the British Isles in the eighteenth century. He is interested in such themes as slavery, colonization, empire, politics, culture, biography, the archive, and the production of history and ethnography. His dissertation is entitled "The Origins of an Archive: Enslavers and the Geopolitics of Knowledge Production in an Age of Abolition." It examines the lives and works of the first generation of British enslavers who turned to writing about Africa and Africans as part of their effort to prevent the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. It explores why and how this particular cohort of white anti-abolitionists developed and then deployed their knowledge of Africa and Africans.

Selected Publications

Digital Media:

 “The Jamaican Airs Exhibit.” Early Caribbean Digital Archive. Northeastern University, 2019. ecda.northeastern.edu/jamaican-music-exhibit-leigh/

Journal Articles: 

With Clifton E. Sorrell III, "How to Control the History of a Slave Rebellion: A Case Study from the Sources of Blackwall's Revolt in St. Mary's Parish, Jamaica, 1765," The Journal of Caribbean History (forthcoming, Vol. 55, No. 1, June 2021).

"The View from 'White Man's Bay': The Captain John Matthews Papers on Sierra Leone at the Firestone Memorial Library, Princeton University," History in Africa (forthcoming, Vol. 48, June 2021).

"The Jamaican Airs: An Introduction to Unpublished Pieces of Musical Notation from Enslaved People in the Eighteenth-Century Caribbean,” Atlantic Studies: Global Currents Vol. 17, No. 4 (2020): 462-484.

"A Disagreeable Text: The Uncovered First Draft of Bryan Edwards's Preface to The History of the British West Indies, c. 1792," New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids Vol. 94, Nos. 1-2 (2020): 39-74.

"The Origins of a Source: Edward Long, Coromantee Slave Revolts, and The History of Jamaica," Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies Vol. 40, No. 2 (2019): 295-320. 

“Black Caesar’s Klan: Albert Payson Terhune, the Birth of Miami, and the Cultural Battle for an Old Bahamian Legend,” Tequesta: The Journal of History Miami Museum Vol. 75, No. 1 (2015): 49-87. 

“Between Swamp and Sea: Bahamian Visitors in Southeast Florida before Miami,” The Florida Historical Quarterly Vol. 93, No. 4 (2015): 511-537.

“Ghost of the Gallows: The Historical Record of Black Caesar,” Creating Knowledge: The LAS Student Research Journal of DePaul University Vol. 5 (2012): 28-38.