Gunther Peck

Faculty Affiliate and Associate Professor, History and Public Policy Studies

(919) 668-5297

Gunther Peck is an associate professor of History at Duke University specializing in immigration and labor history, as well as environmental history. His first book, Reinventing Free Labor: Padrones and Immigrant Workers in the North American West (2000), won the Phillip Taft award in labor history and the Ray Allen Billington award in frontier history.

Peck is currently writing two books on the history of human trafficking and humanitarian intervention. The first, Race Traffic: Servants, Sailors, and Slaves in the Making of Whiteness, 1660-1860, examines the deep historical roots to contemporary white racial discourse, exploring the political, geographic, and cultural contexts from which white racial identity first crystalized during the late Seventeenth Century in the emerging British Empire. Whiteness became hegemonic, he argues, imagined as a thing that all classes of light skinned people might possess, only when trafficked subjects – servants, sailors, and slaves – alike began to use racial grammar to emancipatory ends. The second book, The Shadow of White Slavery, historicizes the contemporary movement to abolish human trafficking, considering the peculiar moral and policy challenges generated by describing all trafficked subjects as slaves. As a community activist in North Carolina, he has taken a keen interest in voting rights and understanding how and why citizens do and do not vote.

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