We've launched a new site so please go to People & Research for current information on our faculty and staff.

Gunther W. Peck, Fred W. Shaffer Associate Professor of History and Public Policy  

Office Location: 308 Carr Building
Office Phone: 919.668.5297 or 919.613.7317
Duke Box: 90719
Email Address: peckgw@duke.edu

Areas of Expertise

  • Environment and Energy, Environmental History
  • History
  • Immigration and Migration

Ph.D., Yale University, 1994
MPhil, Yale University, 1991
M.A., Yale University, 1991
MA, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1989
M.A., University of Wisconsin at Madison, 1989
B.A., Princeton University, 1984

Research Categories: comparative labor, immigration, and environmental history

Research Description: The central problem I have studied as an historian of labor, immigration, and the environment has been the persistence of unfree labor relations in North America and the social, cultural, and geographic reasons for that complex reality. I am currently writing two books on the long history of human trafficking. The first, entitled "Trafficking in Race: White Slavery and the Rise of a Transatlantic Working Class, 1660-1860," explores the relationship between the history of human trafficking and the discourses of antislavery, whiteness, and humanity that structured efforts to rescue trafficked Anglo-American subjects when African chattel slavery remained legal. I have published one article from the book, entitled "White Slavery and Whiteness" and am currently revising a second entitled "Reading Whiteness: From Christian Servants to White Servants in the Colonial State Papers, 1660-1720." I have also completed much of the research on a second policy-oriented book entitled "The Shadow of White Slavery: Innocence, Rescue, and Race in Contemporary Human Trafficking Campaigns." I have published one article from this project entitled "Feminizing White Slavery: Marcus Braun and the Transnational Traffic in White Bodies" and have a second article, "The Shadow of White Slavery" forthcoming as a chapter in a book called History and Foreign Policy: How Understanding the Past can Help Current Leaders, published by Harvard University Press. My interests in the history of immigration, labor, and international relations grew out of my first book. Entitled Reinventing Free Labor: Padrones and Immigrant Workers in the North American West, 1880-1930, the book examined the histories of three infamous padrones and the immigrant workers they imported to North America and exploited. Published by Cambridge University Press in 2000, the book won the Taft prize for best book in North American Labor History, the Billington Prize for the best book in frontier history, and the Pacific Coast Branch Award for best book in comparative North American history. I have also published articles on labor, immigration, and environmental history in The Journal of American History, Social History, Labor History, The Western Historical Quarterly, and Environmental History. I have a joint appointment in the Department of History and the Terry Sanford Institute in Public Policy and teach undergraduate courses in ethics, North American environmental history, North American immigration history, and 20th century U.S. social and cultural history. I also teach graduate seminars in social theory and transnational history in the Department of History.

Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Peck, Gunther. "Migrant Labor and Global Commons: Transnational Subjects, Visions, and Methods". International Labor and Working-Class History 85.1Cambridge University Press, (Spring, 2014): 118-137.  [abs]
  2. G.W. Peck. "The Shadow of White Slavery: Innocence, Rescue, and Empire in Contemporary Human Trafficking Campaigns."  2012
  3.  "Feminizing White Slavery in the United States: Marcus Braun and the Transnational Traffic in White Bodies, 1890-1910."." Workers Across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History. Ed. Leon Fink. (Oxford University Press), June, 2011.
  4. G.W. Peck. ""The Nature of Labor: Fault Lines and Common Ground in Environmental and Labor Historyā€¯." Environmental History 11.2 (April, 2006): 212-38..
  5. G.W. Peck. ""Making Sense of White Slavery and Whiteness"." LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 1.2 (Summer 2004) (June, 2004): 41-63..

Gunther W. Peck