Dr. D.A. (Damian) Pargas

  • Researcher
  • Lecturer
  • Comparative history
  • Social history
  • Slavery and emancipation
  • Migration

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2736
E-Mail: d.a.pargas@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Institute for History, Algemene Geschiedenis
Office Address: Johan Huizingagebouw
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 1.67

Fields of interest

  • Economic and social history
  • Comparative history
  • North American slavery and emancipation
  • Migration in the Atlantic world
  • American racial and labor relations


Damian Alan Pargas has published widely on slavery in the American South. He is especially interested in internal comparisons between various groups of slaves within the southern states. His dissertation and first monograph, The Quarters and the Fields: Slave Families in the Non-Cotton South (University Press of Florida, 2010), compared and contrasted slave family life in three distinct regions of the American South. His second monograph, Slavery and Forced Migration in the Antebellum South (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming), examines the experiences of interstate, local, and urban slave migrants from a comparative perspective. At present he is working on a comparative study of slave refugees in North America between 1775 and 1860, including fugitive slaves who left the South altogether (to the North, Canada, and Mexico) as well as runaways who remained within the slave states (illegally passing for free in southern cities, or remaining hidden by other slaves).

Teaching activities

Courses in social and economic history, including courses on the history of North American slavery.

Curriculum vitae

Damian studied social history at Leiden University, earning his MA cum laude in 2004 and his PhD cum laude in 2009. From 2009 to 2013 he was assistant professor of history and American studies at Utrecht University. In August 2013 he returned to Leiden as assistant professor of social and economic history. He is the author of two books and several articles on American slavery, slave family life, and slave migration in the 19th century. In 2011 he was awarded a visiting scholar fellowship by the JFK Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität in Berlin, and from 2011 to 2014 he held a Veni postdoctoral fellowship from the Dutch Council for Scientific Research (NWO) for his project “Newcomers in Chains: Slave Migrants in the Antebellum South, 1820-1865.” He is also an editor for the journal Itinerario and secretary of the Netherlands American Studies Association.

Key publications

  • The Quarters and the Fields: Slave Families in the Non-Cotton South (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010).
  • Slavery and Forced Migration in the Antebellum South (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), forthcoming.
  • “Disposing of Human Property: American Slave Families and Forced Separation in Comparative Perspective,” Journal of Family History, vol. 34, nr. 3 (July 2009): 251-74.
  • “The Gathering Storm: Slave Responses to the Threat of Interregional Migration in the Early Nineteenth Century,” Journal of Early American History 2 no. 3 (Fall 2012): 286-315.
  • “In the Fields of a ‘Strange Land’: Enslaved Newcomers and the Adjustment to Cotton Cultivation in the Antebellum South” Slavery & Abolition vol. 34, nr. 4 (Dec. 2013): 564-580.

Last Modified: 10-12-2015