Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
McMaster University
Website URL
African American history, women's and gender history, violence and resistance
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Sarah Whitwell completed her PhD in American history at McMaster University. Her research explores how black men and women experienced racialized violence during the transition from slavery to freedom and in the decades immediately following emancipation. The struggle to combat racialized violence, she argues, was conditioned by the experiences of black men and women during slavery. By adopting and transforming resistance techniques developed to oppose slavery, the newly freed black population found ways to contest subjugation. To reconstruct the experience of black men and women, her research also reconceptualizes how we think about violence and resistance. It moves beyond the equation of violence with physical force, and instead recognizes that acts of violence can result from an imbalance of power. Resistance, similarly, should be understood in broader terms to include acts that are not explicitly recognized as resistance by those involved, but that informed observers might reasonably perceive as thwarting attempts at subjugation. This research was supported by the prestigious and highly competitive Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS-D) Doctoral Scholarship. In 2021, the dissertation was nominated for the CAGS-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award, an award that recognizes Canadian doctoral dissertations that make unusually significant and original contributions to their academic field. It was also nominated for the Canadian Historical Association’s John Bullen Prize, awarded to the best history dissertation defended at a Canadian university in a given year.

Since completing her PhD, Sarah has been actively involved in the field of teaching and learning. Sarah Whitwell is the Experiential Programming and Outreach Manager for the Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University. In this role, she supports both undergraduate students and instructors in navigating Experiential Education with the goal of increasing the number of experiential opportunities available across the Faculty of Humanities. Sarah is a passionate educator and continues to teach for the Department of History. She endeavours to support learners in finding unique experiential opportunities that will allow them to excel during their time at McMaster and beyond.

Recent Publications
Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
American Civil War, Emancipation, Gender, Higher Ed, Pedagogy, Public History, Race, Sexual Violence, Slavery, Women