Jennifer Anderson will be coming to speak in the Seminar in New York and American Material Culture Wednesday, April 6, 2011, on “The Mahogany Connection: From American Rainforests to New England Parlors.”

Jennifer Anderson is Assistant Professor in the History Department at Stony Brook University, where she has taught since 2007. She received a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University (1998), an M.A. from Winterthur, University of Delaware (1991) and an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University (2001 and 2007). From 1993-1995, Dr. Anderson was Adjunct Professor at the Bard Graduate Center. She also has been the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards including, the Mellon Post-Dissertation Fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society (2006-7), the John Carter Brown Library’s Fellowship for Comparative New World Studies (2003), and the New England Regional Museum Consortium Fellowship (2001-2002).

Professor Anderson is the author of the forthcoming publications, Furnishing the Empire: The Rise and Decline of Mahogany in the British Atlantic,1720-1850 and, “New England Merchants and the Circum-Caribbean Slave Trade,” in Slaving Paths: Rebuilding and Rethinking the Atlantic World, edited by Ana Lucia Araujo; and the author of articles, “Better Judges of the Situation: Environmental Realities & Problems of Imperial Authority in the Bay of Honduras,” in Itinerario (2006) and “Nature’s Currency: The Atlantic Mahogany Trade and the Commodification of Nature in the 18th Century,” Early American Studies (2004). Dr. Anderson was also the Historical Research Coordinator for the PBS documentary, Traces of the Trade: the History of Slavery in the Deep North (2008) which received an Emmy Nomination for, Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research.

Professor Anderson’s talk is entitled “The Mahogany Connection: From American Rainforests to New England Parlors.” In the mid-18th century, mahogany furniture became all the rage in Colonial America. Professor Anderson will discuss why people developed such an avid fascination with this particular tropical hardwood, where and how it was harvested in the circum-Caribbean, and how it came to play such a central role in American material culture. Considering the history of mahogany from a broader environmental perspective, she will also illuminate the little known tale of the human and ecological strife that surrounded its production and consumption.

Please RSVP and join us in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Ave and Central Park West, at 5:45pm for a reception before the talk.