Jesse Joseph Olsavsky
Assistant Professor of History at Duke Kunshan University

I am a US and Atlantic historian who focuses largely on the history of slavery, abolitionism, and their legacies. I teach courses on American history, American political institutions and Pan-African thought. I am coordinator of the US Studies major. I am also co-director of the Freedom Lab, an interdisciplinary faculty-student research center devoted to the study of un-freedom and liberation in the modern world.

I have written essays on the contributions of women activists to abolitionism and feminism, on underground activism in the life of Frederick Douglass, on runaway slaves, on the antislavery roots of prison/police abolition, and on the influence of abolitionist political theory in the Pan-African, anti-imperialist thought of W.E.B. Dubois. 

I am currently working on two book projects. First is a book titled "'Fire and Sword Will Affect More Good': Runaways, Vigilance Committees, and the Rise of Revolutionary Abolitionism, 1835-1861." This book will examine how interracial, urban abolitionist organizations called vigilance committees defended African Americans from police and slave catchers, helped thousands of slaves escape slavery, and in the process transformed abolitionism into a movement with revolutionary dimensions. My second book project, "The Haitian Revolutions: Abolitionist Histories" in collaboration with two student co-editors, is a volume of histories, written by American abolitionists on the Haitian Revolution.

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