Gunja SenGupta

Gunja SenGupta profile photo

Research Interests

  • 19th-century U.S. and slavery/abolition/empire in the Indian Ocean world, Afro-Asian interactions in the Anglo-Atlantic, Black Atlantic history on film, race, gender, poverty and social welfare, sectional conflict, African American and women's history


  • Ph.D, Tulane University


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • Brooklyn College

Gunja SenGupta's current research and teaching interests lie in 19th-century U.S. and slavery/abolition/empire in the Indian Ocean world; race, gender, poverty, and social welfare; sectional conflict; Afro-Asian interactions in the North Atlantic; and Black Atlantic history on film. Her first book, For God and Mammon: Evangelicals and Entrepreneurs, Masters and Slaves in Territorial Kansas (1996), dealt with sectional conflict and consensus. In From Slavery to Poverty: The Racial Origins of Welfare in New York, 1840-1918 (2009), she explored welfare debates as sites for negotiating identities of class, race, gender, and nation. Her third (co-authored) book, Sojourners, Sultans, and Slaves: America and the Indian Ocean in the Age of Abolition and Empire, is forthcoming from the University of California Press in 2023.It fleshes out on a granular level, the interface among the personal, domestic, and international politics of slavery by tracking the circulation of people, the echo of ideas, and the resonance of policy among nodes of commercial exchange, imperial power rivalries, and reform activism, extending from Anglo-America through the Swahili coast, the Red Sea and the Gulf into the South Asian subcontinent. Her fellowships and grants include those awarded by Mrs. Giles Whiting, Wolfe, Tow, Mellon, and most recently BRESI-CUNY (among others).  Her articles have appeared in numerous journals including the American Historical Review, Journal of Negro (now African American) History, Civil War History, Kansas History, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and Transition Magazine. 

Selected Awards and Grants

Mrs. Giles Whiting, Wolfe Institute, Mellon, Tow, most recently, BRESI-CUNY

Courses Taught

  • Slavery and Freedom: North Atlantic and the Indian Ocean world
  • African American History: Transnational and Comparative Perspectives
  • Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Women’s History
  • Colloquia on U.S. Social History, Film and History



  • Gunja SenGupta (with Awam Amkpa), Sojourners, Sultans, and Slaves: America and the Indian Ocean in the Age of Abolition and Empire (University of California Press, Spring 2023).
  • Gunja SenGupta, From Slavery to Poverty: The Racial Origins of Welfare in New York, 1840-1918 (New York University Press, 2009, paperback, 2010)
  • Gunja SenGupta, For God and Mammon: Evangelicals and Entrepreneurs, Masters and Slaves in Territorial Kansas, 1854-1860 (University of Georgia Press, 1996)

Selected Articles/ Book Chapters

  • “Africans, the Libyan Sibyl, and the Greek Slave: Re-Signifying the Mediterranean in Transatlantic Abolition,” Transition, (literary magazine of the Hutchins Center at Harvard University), 60th Anniversary issue titled “Black in the Mediterranean Blue,” guest-edited by Wole Soyinka, Issue 132 (2021), 188-201
  • "Sankofa and the Art of Archiving Black Atlantic Migrations," essay under contract for publication in Deborah Willis, et al., eds., Women and Migration II (Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, forthcoming, 2022)
  • "Pan-Mongolism to Anti-Racist Internationalism: Perspectives from U. S. History," in David Rainbow ed., Ideologies of Race: Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union in Global Context (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2019), 312-338.
  • “Migration as a Woman’s Right: Stories from Comparative and Transnational Slavery Histories in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds,” in Deborah Willis, Ellyn Toscano and Kalia Brooks (eds.) Women and Migration: Responses in Art and History (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2019), 561-580.
  • "The Blackamoor as Voyager: Re-Significations in Transit from Old Worlds to Estevanico, Abraham Lincoln, Bayou Ballads, and William Attaway," in Awam Amkpa ed., Re-Significations: European Blackamoors, Africana Readings (Rome: Postcart, 2016), 75-93.
  • (With Awam Amkpa) “Picturing Homes and Border Crossings: The Slavery Trope in Films of the Black Atlantic,” in Ana-Lucia Araujo ed.,  Paths of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Interactions, Identities, and Images (New York: Cambria Press, 2011), 359-387.
  • (With Awam Amkpa) “ History in Ousmane Sembène’s Guelwaar and Ceddo,” Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (Fall 2010), 14-21.
  • “Bleeding Kansas: A Review Essay,” in Virgil Dean ed., Territorial Kansas Reader (Topeka, KS: Kansas State Historical Society, 2005), revised and updated version of 2001 article in Kansas History cited below.
  • “Elites, Subalterns, and American Identities: A Case Study of African American Benevolence,” American Historical Review 109 (October 2004): 1104-1139.
  •  “Black and ‘Dangerous’? African-American Working Poor Perspectives on Juvenile Reform and Welfare in Victorian New York, 1840-1890,” Journal of Negro History (now known as Journal of African American History LXXXVI (Spring 2001): 99-131.
  • “Bleeding Kansas” Kansas History 24 (Winter 2001-02): 318-341 (Lead article in award-winning Review Essay series honored by American Association of State and Local History)
  • "'A Model New England State': Northeastern Antislavery in Territorial Kansas, 1854-1860," Civil War History 29 (March 1993): 31-46.
  • "Servants for Freedom: Christian Abolitionists in Territorial Kansas, 1854-1858," Kansas History 16 (Autumn 1993): 200-213
  • "Women's Prison Association," "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," and "Mammy" in Hasia R. Diner ed., Enclyclopedia on Women in American History (Facts on File).
  • "Angelina and Sarah Grimke," and "Alice Paul" under contract in Peter Parish ed., Reader's Guide to American History (London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997)
  • "Women's Issues in India," (Texas) Commerce Journal (newspaper) April 2, 1997
Gunja SenGupta profile photo


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • Brooklyn College