Rebecca Goetz  

Rebecca A. Goetz

Adjunct Associate Professor of History



  • Ph.D. Harvard University, 2006
  • M.A. Harvard University, 2002
  • B.A. Bates College, 2000

Areas of Interest

  • Early North America
  • History of Race and Slavery
  • History of the Atlantic World
  • History of American Religion

Research and Teaching

Dr. Goetz received her PhD in 2006 from Harvard University. A historian of early North America, she specializes in the history of race and slavery. She also has broad interests in the history of the Atlantic World and in comparative colonialisms in North America and the Caribbean. She teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on many aspects of early American history.

Her current work, a manuscript tentatively titled "Indian Enslavement in the English Atlantic World, 1500-1700" examines English enslavement of Indians in the first two centuries after contact. Focusing on the Caribbean, the manuscript argues that Indian enslavement by the English was widespread but concealed behind a liberationist ideology and the mythology of the Black Legend. Indian slavery was nevertheless critical to England's colonial goals, and was the foundation on which English imperialism in the Americas rested. The practice of Indian enslavement bound the continent and its islands together. Enslavement was a constant, and a constant risk; it could affect native peoples in any place.</p>

<p>While most recent studies have focused on the late seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries, English colonists were actively and critically involved in stimulating a trade in Indian slaves well before the Carolina incarnation of the trade in 1670. (English people in Carolina were able to build an Indian slave trade because they had prior experience in the Caribbean.) Interest in Indian slaving was an early and regular feature of English colonization attempts from the late sixteenth century on, especially in the Caribbean, yet no studies have explained English interest in enslaved Indians at this early date. Uncovering English involvement in Indian slavery is a difficult task methodologically since most English sources glossed over Indian enslavement. The most revealing sources for the project are not in English: French, Spanish, and Dutch sources are critical for uncovering English involvement in the trade in enslaved Indian people.

Her first book, The Baptism of Early Virginia: How Christianity Created Race was published in August 2012 by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Those interested in studying early North America at the graduate level at Rice should contact Dr. Goetz directly.

Selected Publications

  • The Baptism of Early Virginia: How Christianity Created Race (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012)
  • “Emanuel Driggus” in The Dictionary of Virginia Biography, vol. IV (forthcoming, 2009).
  • “ 'The Child Should be Made a Christian’: Baptism, Race, and Identity in the Early Chesapeake,” in John Garrigus, ed., Race and Identity in the New World (Forthcoming, Texas A&M Press, 2009).
  • “General Artemas Ward: A Revolutionary Remembered and Reinvented, 1800-1938,” The Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, October 2003.

Curriculum Vitae

Current  CV