Charlton W. Yingling

Assistant Professor


Chaz Yingling works on Atlantic, Caribbean, and Latin American history with a focus on race and slavery during the Age of Revolutions.  His articles appear in History Workshop JournalAtlantic StudiesEarly American Studies, and Sociales (Dominican Republic).

He is preparing his first monograph, tentatively titled ‘Siblings of the Same Soil’: Race, Religion, and Nation in Santo Domingo during the Age of Revolutions.  Santo Domingo, the first European colony in the Americas, was the original thread at the edge of an expansively woven Spanish imperial tapestry. From 1784-1822 this hem frayed, threatening to unbind the most basic stitches that tied Caribbean colonies to Spanish imperial power. This project analyzes colonial Santo Domingo's cultural, racial, political trajectories amidst influences of the Haitian and French revolutions, Spanish reaction, African Diaspora, and Latin American independence movements. A uniquely Dominican cultural politics of race and nation were born at the intersections of these social and cultural forces, unraveled colonialism, and set terms of engagement with their Haitian neighbors for generations to come. By 1822 demands for citizenship and sovereignty propelled Santo Domingo toward two competing independence movements – one more elite and moderate, the other popular and pro-Haitian. The project shows that Dominicans navigated the signature contests of this era to ultimately achieve perhaps the most progressive Spanish American independence – immediate emancipation, unqualified citizenship, and stable sovereignty – as they welcomed anti-colonial racial solidarity via annexation in 1822 to Haiti, the world’s first black republic.  Nevertheless, subsequent recoveries of Spanish-era ethnic and religious exclusions by Dominican politicians have emboldened misrepresentations of the island's revolutionary era and enlivened anti-Haitianism as a pillar of nationalism, often with deleterious outcome for Haitians to the present day.

Free Communities of Color and the Revolutionary Caribbean, a book he co-edited with Robert D. Taber, will be published by Routledge in 2018.  Problems of belonging, difference, and hierarchy were central to the operation of Caribbean colonies, and formed the motivations and ambitions for some free people of color amid the formation of new states.  The chapters in this project, developed from a 2017 special issue of Atlantic Studiesexplore how free communities of color deployed religion, literature, politics, fashion, the press, history, and the law in the Caribbean during the Age of Revolutions to defend their status and at times define themselves against more marginalized groups in a rapidly changing world. Their displays of social, cultural, and symbolic capitals at times reinforced systemic continuity and complicated revolutionary-era tensions among the long-free, enslaved, and recently-freed. 

Chaz is also developing projects on the profitability of plantation economies and racial hierarchies through the lens of the burgeoning field of Animal Studies.  Specifically, his co-authored article and book projects with Tyler D. Parry examine dogs as biopower in dominating blacks across Caribbean plantation societies. Canine violence marked Spanish conquests against the indigenous Americas, and became a transnational tool for managing plantation economies. In the eighteenth century Cuban breeders exported specially-trained dogs to attack maroons in Jamaica and rebels in Haiti. Planters in the US South later deployed the same dogs against fleeing slaves, who in the nineteenth century ran to Mexico or across the Ohio River onward to Canada. Hounds meant profit to planters whose sense of biological racial hierarchy was 'proven' by their notion that dogs could scent blackness.  These dogs were also proof of slavery's depravity to abolitionists.  More than the chain or the whip, enslaved people across Americas recounted these attack hounds as the most frightening tool of white power.

Separately, he is beginning an exploratory project with Andrew E. Kettler that will study the trials and errors of breeding European and African cattle herds for domestication in tropical climates during early Spanish colonization of the Caribbean and formation of an Alimentary Atlantic.  Many cattle fled Spanish pens, later providing food sources for pirates and rival empires.  Feral cattle thus facilitated English capture of Jamaica during the Western Design, and also by devastating native flora which assisted in opening landscapes for plantation crops.  Bovines then provided essential labor in plowing, pressing sugarcane, and transporting export crops across Jamaica and Barbados, while also offering dairy foods that were essential to English appetites and identities.  Cattle were also legally and culturally significant to conceptualizations of chattel, servitude, labor, and domination.

His work has been funded by the Ministry of Culture and Education of Spain, the Conference on Latin American History, the Bilinski Foundation, the Academy of American Franciscan History, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Harvard University Atlantic History Seminar, among others.