Sowande' Mustakeem

Sowande' Mustakeem

​Associate Professor of History and of African and African-American Studies
PhD, Michigan State University
MA, Ohio State University
BA, Elon University
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    • On Sabbatical for Spring 2024
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    • MSC 1062-107-114
      Washington University
      One Brookings Drive
      St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    ​Sowande' Mustakeem's recent courses include "Slavery and Memory in American Popular Culture" and "Visualizing Blackness: Histories of the African Diaspora Through Film." 



    Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage (University of Illinois Press, 2016).

    Selected Publications

    Articles and Reviews

    “Blood Stained Mirrors: Decoding the American Slave Trading Past” in Understanding and Teaching American Slavery, Edited by Bethany Jay and Lynne (Forthcoming: University of Wisconsin Press, 2016). 

    “Suffering at the Margins: (Re)-Centering Black Women in Discourses on Violence and Crime,” Review Essay of The Meanings of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues by Angela Y. Davis, 

    Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation by Beth Ritchie, and Breaking Women: Gender, Race, and The New Politics of Imprisonment by Jill McCorkel, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 42: 3 & 4 (Fall/Winter 2014): 319-323.

    Marcus Rediker, North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XC, No. 4 (October 2013): 418-419.

    “Breaking the Chains: Un-Silencing the American Slaving Past” in Teaching Lincoln: What Every K-12 Students Needs to Know About Nationalism, Emancipation, Power, and Race, Edited by Caroline Pryor and Stephen Hansen (Peter & Lang Press, 2013): 121-128.

    "'She Must Go Overboard & Shall Go Overboard’: Diseased Bodies and the Spectacle of Murder at Sea," in Atlantic Studies 8.3 (Fall 2011): 301-316.

    'I Never Have Such A Sickly Ship Before': Diet, Disease, and Mortality in 18th-Century Atlantic Slaving Voyages," in Journal of African American History 93 (Fall 2008): pp. 474-496.

    "'Make Haste & Let Me See You With A Good Cargo of Negroes': Gender, Power, and the Centrality of Violence in the Eighteenth Century Atlantic Slave Trade," in Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and Power in Maritime America, edited by Glenn Gordinier. (Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum, 2008), 3-21.

    "Far Cry From a Fantasy Voyage: The Impact of the Middle Passage on Slave Societies Across the Atlantic World," in ISLAS: Official Publication of the Afro-Cuban Alliance, Inc. Year 2, No. 8, (Fall 2007).

    Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage

    Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage

    Most times left solely within the confine of plantation narratives, slavery was far from a land-based phenomenon. This book reveals for the first time how it took critical shape at sea. Expanding the gaze even more deeply, the book centers how the oceanic transport of human cargoes--infamously known as the Middle Passage--comprised a violently regulated process foundational to the institution of bondage. Sowande' Mustakeem's groundbreaking study goes inside the Atlantic slave trade to explore the social conditions and human costs embedded in the world of maritime slavery.


    Mining ship logs, records and personal documents, Mustakeem teases out the social histories produced between those on traveling ships: slaves, captains, sailors, and surgeons. As she shows, crewmen manufactured captives through enforced dependency, relentless cycles of physical, psychological terror, and pain that led to the the making--and unmaking--of enslaved Africans held and transported onboard slave ships. Mustakeem relates how this process, and related power struggles, played out not just for adult men, but also for women, children, teens, infants, nursing mothers, the elderly, diseased, ailing, and dying. Mustakeem offers provocative new insights into how gender, health, age, illness, and medical treatment intersected with trauma and violence transformed human beings into the world's most commercially sought commodity for over four centuries.


    Winner of Wesley-Logan Prize,  American Historical Association (2017)