Jennifer L. Palmer is a historian of Early Modern France and the francophone world, and she teaches courses about Europe, the Atlantic world, women and gender, race, slavery, and pirates. In her classes she emphasizes active learning and intellectual engagement through social media. Students conduct original research to create graphic novels, YouTube videos, and blog posts. She was awarded the Russell Award in Undergraduate Teaching and is an elected member of the University of Georgia Teaching Academy.
Palmer researches and writes about race, gender, the family, and property in the eighteenth-century French Atlantic, a place and time when all these highly contested categories were beginning to take their modern shapes. She uses intimacy as a lens to frame broad interdisciplinary questions about identity, relationships, and empire.
Her first book, Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic (2016), follows the stories of people who built families and fortunes on both sides of the French Atlantic. By focusing on family and household, the units that anchored France in the eighteenth century, she shows interconnections among race, gender, colonialism, and the plantation system in the early modern period. It received the Boucher Award for the best book in French colonial history.
She is currently working on a book called “Possession: Gender, Race, and Property in Atlantic France.” It argues that race and gender were used as criteria to limit who could own property, and that this shaped the rise of the plantation system and the emergence of capitalism.