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Colin Palmer, Historian of the African Diaspora, Is Dead at 75

Historians in the News
tags: obituaries, historians, Colin Palmer



Colin A. Palmer, a historian who broadened the understanding of the African diaspora, showing that the American slave trade was only one part of a phenomenon that spanned centuries and influenced cultures worldwide, died on June 20 in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 75.

His family announced the death but did not specify the cause. Professor Palmer, who lived in Yonkers, had traveled to Kingston to begin work on an interpretive history of Jamaica, his native country.

Professor Palmer published his first of many books in 1976, at a time when the black power movement and issues of black identity were prominent in the United States. But it wasn’t about the Civil War-era slave trade; it was called “Slaves of the White God: Blacks in Mexico, 1570-1650,” chronicling a period when the colonies that would become the United States were still in their formative stages. The book set him on a career-long path.

“Palmer definitely brought about a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the African diaspora, one that extended well beyond African-American history or the history of the slave trade,” said James H. Sweet, who as a graduate student worked with Professor Palmer and is now Vilas-Jartz distinguished professor of history at the University of Wisconsin.

Read entire article at NY Times

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