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  • Historical News and Notices


An expert on the history of slavery and emancipation in the United States, Anthony (Tony) E. Kaye died on May 14, 2017, at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Tony was passionate about history and its implications for social justice. In written work he added greatly to our understanding of the lived experiences of slaves. Through his editorial skills he helped numerous scholars sharpen their work through service on two peer-reviewed journals and, most recently, as an administrator of one of the more prestigious humanities initiatives in the country.

Born on January 5, 1962, in Philadelphia, Tony became my colleague at Penn State as an assistant professor in 2002. He had earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1999, studying under Barbara J. Fields. He arrived with a strong editorial background, having been involved with journalism—through contributing pieces to Harper's, New Republic, and The Nation—and with documentary editing through work as an assistant editor at the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland.

But it was his dissertation that captivated us. It became the book Joining Places: Slave Neighborhoods in the Old South (Chapel Hill, 2007), in which Tony, remarkably, made a fresh intervention into one of the most crowded areas of U.S. history. He argued that slaves in the Natchez District of Mississippi understood their lives not as a monolithic community but as belonging to a neighborhood. Tony defined this neighborhood through human geography—not just as a matter of space but also as a state of mind for how slaves envisioned the spatial and human boundaries of their alliances and kin relations. Through the framework of neighborhoods, he showed how conflict could occur among African Americans that impeded slave revolts.

He continued to explore the transnational relations of U.S. slavery through "second slavery," a topic that he published on in 2009 for the seventy-fifth anniversary issue of the Journal of Southern History. Coined by Dale Tomich, the concept argues that slavery was not the same between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries; that the second slavery featured increasing integration with industrial expansion and world markets, as commodities such as coffee and sugar—formerly luxuries—became common necessities. Slavery adapted to new techniques and machines in a modern variant of capitalism. Anticipating the turn toward considering slavery as a part of capitalist enterprises, he also cautioned us to be clearheaded about what exactly was capitalist and modern about slavery.

Over the years I benefited from Tony's expertise, and his willingness to serve both the public and wider profession. One way was as an instructor to public school teachers in a program called "Breaking the Silence," which linked with a UNESCO effort to teach about the four-hundred-year history of the transatlantic slave trade. He added significantly to this effort to show teachers that African American history was synonymous with U.S. history. [End Page 1029]

Second, he became an important partner on two journals that I was editing. From 2004 to 2010, Tony served as an associate editor on the journal Civil War History. He became a self-described "session-hopper" at conferences where he displayed an innate ability to gauge prospects for an article in twenty-minute papers. While recruiting manuscripts at meetings such as the Southern Historical Association, he watched panels sitting slightly sideways in a chair with one elbow on the back and hand propping chin or forehead, absorbing the presentations and using the question period to sharpen the presenters' focus. He was the perfect partner for launching in 2011 the Journal of the Civil War Era. As associate editor, he articulated in his usual insightful way the mission to offer "a unique space where scholars across the many subfields that animate nineteenth-century history can enter into conversation with each other." It was the mantra for how he practiced the discipline of history.

He had more contributions to make. One was a book that brought a new consideration to the Nat Turner slave rebellion. He had wrestled with the subject for a number of years, going through various frameworks to capture what caused this uprising and why...


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pp. 1029-1032
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