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Gable Distinguished Chair brings focus on Colonial American history to UGA

Alan Flurry

The University of Georgia welcomes renowned historian and anthropologist James F. Brooks as the inaugural holder of the Carl and Sally Gable Distinguished Chair in Southern Colonial American History.

An innovative scholar and teacher, Brooks is author of the prize-winning book Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwestern Borderlands, which garnered seven major prizes including the Bancroft, Parkman and Turner prizes. The book frames a pivotal episode in North American history and connects the experiences of the continent’s indigenous peoples and the descendants of those who arrived after 1492.

An interdisciplinary scholar of the indigenous and Colonial past, Brooks has taught at the University of Maryland, UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and enjoyed research fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Vanderbilt University’s Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities and the School for Advanced Research, a leading center for study in the social sciences and indigenous arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

As the inaugural Gable Chair, Brooks brings a deep commitment to comparative scholarship on slavery and public history to the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of history. His visionary new work on the migration of the “Georgia Colony” to Colorado encourages the concept that historians not be constrained by the limits of regions whose borders were always imaginary. Brooks serves as editor of The Public Historian, the flagship journal of the public history discipline. He arrived at UGA in fall semester 2019 from UC Santa Barbara.

“I am honored and thrilled that UGA selected me as the inaugural Gable Chair, for this allows me to pursue an expansive view of the ‘Greater South,’ which stretches across the continent from the Atlantic to Pacific shores and spans the paleolithic to the present,” Brooks said.

He is working with the University of Georgia Press on a series of richly illustrated books for public readers that feature themes of hunting, fishing, arts and foodways so that readers can appreciate the richness, diversity and continuity of regional life across the millennia. Brooks is also writing a new work of history and memoir, Picketwire, which reaches from the Cherokee town of Great Tellico in the early 18th century to Dahlonega and the floodplain of the Etowah to the canyons and mountains of Colorado in the 20th century. 

“I hope that my diverse career and pursuits will mirror the wide range of passions that Carl and Sally Gable embody,” Brooks said. 

Highly accomplished students of history, Carl and Sally Gable are pillars in Atlanta cultural life with an abiding commitment to community and to higher education. After an early career in securities law and corporate mergers and acquisitions, Carl Gable served as president of Interface, Inc., a worldwide leader in the manufacturing of modular carpeting, and as vice chairman of Intermet Corp., the largest independent producer of ductile iron casting for automobiles and industrial products, playing a key role in the international growth of both companies.


Image: James F. Brooks

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