Justin Roberts

Associate Professor


Related information

Email: justin.roberts@dal.ca
Phone: 902-403-2729
Fax: 902-494-3349
Mailing Address: 
Room 1169, Marion McCain Building, 6135 University Ave
PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Early Modern Atlantic World
  • Caribbean
  • Slavery
  • British Empire
  • Environmental History


  • PhD (John Hopkins)
  • MA (John Hopkins)
  • MA (Queen's)
  • BA (Simon Fraser)

NOTE: Dr. Roberts is on leave, returning in 2025

Dr. Roberts specializes in the study of slavery in the British Empire. He has recently completed a book on the expansion of slavery across the early English empire from 1640-1720 in both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. He has begun new projects on road building as a tool of imperialism throughout the Atlantic World and on the first Jamaican maroon war. He is also embarking on a more thorough investigation of the relationship between slavery and environmental history. He continues to research and write about the plantation complex and enslaved communities. He has published on aspects of plantation slavery in the Caribbean and in the United States from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. He has particular expertise in the history of slavery in Barbados and in the history of sugar plantations.


  • Fragile Empire: Slavery in the Early English Tropics, 1645-1720. New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
  • Slavery and the Enlightenment in the British Atlantic:  1750-1807.  New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “The Paradox of Abolition: Sugar Production and Slave Demography in Danish St. Croix, 1792-1804,” with Philip D. Morgan and Rasmus Christensen. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 54.2 (Spring 2024), pages forthcoming.
  • “Plantation Development,” in The Routledge History of Jamaica, edited by Kathleen E.A. Monteith and Carla Pestana. New York: Routledge, forthcoming.   
  • “A Sugar Revolution? The Expansion of the Caribbean Sugar Frontier” in Cambridge History of the Caribbean. Vol. 1: Indigenous Displacement and the Formation of Colonial Slave Societies, edited by Kristen Block. New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
  • “‘Corruption of the Air’: Yellow Fever and Malaria in the Rise of English Caribbean Slavery.” Early American Studies, 20.4 (Fall 2022): 653-672.
  • "The Whip and the Hoe: Violence, Work and Productivity on Anglo-American Plantations." Journal of Global Slavery, 6.1 (January, 2021): 108-130.
  • “L'ordre de la plantation, Barbade et Jamaïque, XVIIIe siècle” in Histoire Mondiale de l’esclavage, edited by Claude Chevaleyre, Paulin Ismard, Benedetta Rossi and Cécile Vidal, 239-246. Paris: Seuil, 2021.
  • “Oriented towards the Ocean: The Colonial South,” with Noeleen McIlvenna in Reinterpreting Southern Histories, edited by Craig Thompson Friend and Lorri Glover, 43-71. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2020
  • “Gold Versus Life: Jobbing Gangs and British Caribbean Slavery,” with Nicholas Radburn. William and Mary Quarterly, 76.2 (April, 2019): 223-256.
  • “Barbados.” Oxford Bibliographies Online: Atlantic History, edited by Trevor Burnard. New York: Oxford University Press, (2018, revised in 2024).
  • “Sugar in the Atlantic World.” Oxford Bibliographies Online: Atlantic History, edited by Trevor Burnard. New York: Oxford University Press (2011, revised in 2015, 2018 and 2024).
  • “The Development of Slave Systems in the British Americas,” in The World of Colonial America: An Atlantic Handbook, edited by Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, 123-149. New York: Routledge, 2017.
  • “Surrendering Surinam: The Barbadian Diaspora and the Expansion of the English Sugar Frontier, 1650-1675.” William and Mary Quarterly, 73.2 (April, 2016): 225-256.
  • “Race and the Origins of Plantation Slavery.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, edited by John Butler. New York: Oxford University Press (March, 2016).
  • “The ‘Better Sort’ and The ‘Poorer Sort’: Wealth Inequalities, Family Formation and the Economy of Energy on British Caribbean Sugar Plantations, 1750-1800.” Slavery & Abolition, 35.3 (September, 2014): 458-473.
  • “Slavery in Danish America.” Oxford Bibliographies Online: Atlantic History, edited by Trevor Burnard. New York: Oxford University Press (2013).
  • “The Application of GIS to the Reconstruction of the Slave-Plantation Economy of St. Croix, Danish West Indies.” with Daniel Hopkins and Philip D. Morgan. Historical Geography 39 (2011): 85-104.
  • “Uncertain Business: A Case Study of Barbadian Plantation Management, 1770-1793.” Slavery & Abolition, 32.2 (June 2011): 247-268.
  • “Working Between the Lines: Labor and Agriculture on Two Barbadian Sugar Plantations, 1796-1797.” William and Mary Quarterly, 63.3 (July 2006): 551-586.

Office Hours

  •    On sabbatical