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Gabriel Rocha

Gabriel de Avilez Rocha, PhD

Assistant Professor of History
Department of History
Office: MacAlister 5024
Phone: 215.895.2468

Curriculum Vitae:

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My research examines the environmental and social history of the Atlantic world beginning in the fifteenth century. I focus on the human and non-human spectrum of interactions, from violence to alliance, that brought into contact the diverse societies and ecosystems of Atlantic Africa, Iberia and the Greater Caribbean.

I am currently completing a book manuscript titled "Empire from the Commons: Political Ecologies of Colonialism and Slavery in the Early Atlantic World", which examines how popular struggles over shared property and collective resources contributed to the formation of the Portuguese and Spanish Atlantic empires over the long sixteenth century. The book offers an account of the early modern global commons from micro-historical perspectives: delving into Columbus-era spats over fishing off the coast of Morocco, the fiscalization of hunting fowl in the 16th-century Azores and the entanglement of ranching and slavery in early colonial Puerto Rico. Attentive to the politics of nature in the rhythms of settler colonialism and imperial expansion, my scholarship situates the origins of transnational environmental regulatory norms today in the conflictive socio-ecological landscape of the early modern Atlantic.

At Drexel, I offer courses in global environmental history, empires in world history and the Black Atlantic.

Selected Publications:


  • Empire from the Commons: Political Ecologies of Colonialism and Slavery in the Early Atlantic World (in progress).
  • The Voyage of the Red Dragon: Science and Violence in the Atlantic World (in progress).
  • O Livro de Tiradentes: Transmissão Atlântica de Idéias Políticas no Século XVIII with Kenneth Maxwell, Bruno Carvalho, and John Huffman (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2013).

Chapters and Articles:

  • "Politics of the Hinterland: Taxing Fowl in and beyond the Ports of Terceira Island, 1550-1600." Early American Studies 15:4 (Fall 2017).
  • "Plunder and Profit in the Name of Protection: Royal Iberian Armadas in the Early Atlantic" in Lauren Benton, Adam Clulow, and Bain Attwood, eds., Protection and Empire: A Global History (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
  • "The Azorean Connection: Trajectories of Slaving, Piracy, and Trade in the Early Atlantic" in Ida Altman and David Wheat, eds., (University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming).