Christopher D. Mapes joined Cumberland University in the Fall of 2019. He received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Modern European history with a focus on German-speaking Central Europe in the world. His dissertation, Germany and the Question of Slavery, 1750-1850, is a transnational study which examines slavery in German-speaking Northern Europe from the beginning of the modern period to the final abolition of the slave trade in Brazil ca. 1850. Taking up the questions concerning the German idea of freedom proposed by the global historian Jürgen Osterhammel, that Germans developed a hollow idea of freedom because they lacked a cathartic emancipation event in which the nation overcame slavery, he follows the participation of Germans in antislavery and emancipation movements in the Atlantic World. His work tracks the changes in the participation and attitudes towards slavery and antislavery as the sites of slavery and the slave trade fluctuated between Northern Africa and the New World. Drawing on documents from multiple archives, the work demonstrates the tension between concerns over the plight of black Africans enslaved in the New World and Christian Slaves in the Mediterranean to put Germans squarely into the history of slavery. For this reason, his research interests include imperialism, slavery, colonialism, intellectual history and digital humanities. To complete the dissertation he conducted a research year in Berlin, with the sponsorship of the German-American Fulbright Commission, and the sponsorship of Vanderbilt University. His research has been further sponsored by generous Herzog-Ernst Fellowship from the Fritz-Thyssen Foundation at the Gotha research library and by a Mellon Foundation post-doctoral fellowship in digital humanities.
Dr. Mapes also has completed a BA at Louisiana State University, a Master’s degree at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and a Master’s degree at Vanderbilt University. He has assisted in teaching courses at the University of Alabama and Vanderbilt. As visiting faculty, he has served at the Freie Universität of Berlin, where he assisted in language instruction and participated in a Global History seminar, in addition to a year at Western Kentucky University. Prior to coming to Cumberland University, Dr. Mapes worked on the Digital Slave Societies project at Vanderbilt University.