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Carla Pestana

Department Chair & Professor and Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World

Contact Information

Email    cgpestana@history.ucla.edu
Office  5391 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-825-1883

Carla Gardina Pestana, Professor and Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America and the World, studies the 17th and 18th century Atlantic worlds, especially the English Atlantic; the Caribbean; and U.S. religious history.

Carla Gardina Pestana received her Ph.D. at UCLA in 1987 in early American history. Before joining UCLA’s faculty in 2012, she taught at The Ohio State University, Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Professor Pestana has thus far published books on religion and empire in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Her first book, Quakers and Baptists in Colonial Massachusetts, considered illegal religious communities in New England’s less tolerant colony. Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World, explored the religious transformation brought by English expansion into the Atlantic world. On the subject of empire, she authored The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661 (2004), a study of the effects of revolutionary upheaval in England, Ireland and Scotland on England’s nascent empire. She is also the co-editor with Sharon V. Salinger of Inequality in Early America (1991), a volume of essays honoring their dissertation advisor, Gary B. Nash. Also with Salinger, she compiled and edited a multi-volume collection of primary texts on the early English engagement in the Caribbean, for British publishing house Pickering-Chatto, entitled The Early English Caribbean, 1570-1700

In 2017, the Belknap imprint at Harvard University Press published Pestana’s The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire:


At the Huntington Library she delivered a public lecture on that project, in connection with her position as Robert C. Ritchie Distinguished Fellow. Listen to the talk here:

Oliver Cromwell’s Consolation Prize? The English Conquest of Jamaica--http://www.huntington.org/audio/2016_0302_oliver_cromwells_consolation_prize.mp3

Between 2016 and 2018, she blogged for the Huffington Post; follow this link to read posts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/cgpestana-346

Her teaching interests range over similar fields to those explored in her publications. She contributes her expertise in early American history, the history of American religion, piracy, and the history of the early modern world. She has taught undergraduate courses on Atlantic history and early American history, on the history of American religion, as well as on such topics as Salem witchcraft and pirates in the Caribbean. Professor Pestana teaches the introductory course for first year U.S. graduate students, History 246A (U.S. History and Historiography to 1800).  Her 14A course, History of the Atlantic World, will be offered for the first time in 2019. She regularly offers Fiat Lux courses, on topics including THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, the novel WOLF HALL considered as an exercise in historical revision, and THE ADVENTURES OF HENRY PITMAN (a seventeenth-century prisoner of war, indentured servant, runaway and physician).

She is the President of FEEGI (Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction), 2018-2020; an OAH Distinguished Lecturer, 2016-2019; and a member of the editorial board of the American Historical Review and Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

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    • Graduate Woman of the Year, UCLA Association of Academic Women, 1987
    • First prize, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, American Library Association (sole author, exhibition catalog), 1987
    • Distinguished Scholar Award, U.C.L.A. Alumni Association, 1984-85
    • Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Colonial History for “The City upon a Hill Under Siege: Puritan Perception of the Quaker Threat to Massachusetts Bay, 1656-1661,” 1983

    • Robert C. Ritchie Distinguished Fellow, Huntington Library, 2015-16
    • John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, 2009
    • Sabbatical Fellow, American Philosophical Society, 2002-3
    • Kemble Fellow, Huntington Library, 2001-2
    • Huntington-NEH Senior Fellow, Huntington Library, 1996-97
    • Fletcher Jones Research Fellow, Huntington Library, 1994-95
    • Lilly Teaching Fellow, Ohio State University, 1990-92
    • Recent Recipients of the Ph.D. Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, 1989-90
    • Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Fellow, American Antiquarian Society, 1988-89
    • Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 1986-87
    • Huntington-Frank Hideo Kono Memorial Fellow, Huntington Library, 1985-86
    • Research Fellow, John Carter Brown Library, 1984-85


  • NEH Summer Stipend, 2000
  • American Philosophical Society Research Grant, 1994-95
  • Huntington Library-British Academy Exchange, 1992-93, 1987-88

Selected Publications


  • Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009; paperback edition, 2011.
  • The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661. Harvard University Press, 2004; paperback edition, 2007.
  • The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society, Gary B. Nash & Julie Roy Jeffrey, general editors; with authors Allen F. Davis, Peter J. Frederick, John R. Howe, Charlene Mires, and Allan M. Winkler. Various editions, 2006-2011.
  • Quakers and Baptists in Colonial Massachusetts. Cambridge University Press, 1991; paperback edition, 2004.
  • Inequality in Early America, co-edited with Sharon V. Salinger, Reencounters with Colonialism: New Perspectives on the Americas. University Press of New England, 1999.
  • Liberty of Conscience and the Growth of Religious Diversity in Early America, 1636-1786. John Carter Brown Library, 1986 (winner of first prize, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, American Library Association, 1987)

Recent Articles, Essays and Book Chapters

  • “George Whitefield and Empire,” in George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy, edited by Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones. Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016.
  • “The Conventionality of the Notorious John Perrot,” in Early Quakers and their Theological Thinking, 1647-1723, edited by Stephen W. Angell and Pink Dandelion, 173-89. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • “Early English Jamaica without pirates,” William and Mary Quarterly 3d series, 71 (2014): 321-60.
  • “Cruelty and Religious Justifications for Conquest in the mid-Seventeenth-Century English Atlantic,” in Empires of God: Religious Encounters in the Early Modern Atlantic World, edited by Linda Gregerson and Susan Juster, 37-57, 265-70. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
  • “Evangelicalism and Conversion,” “Protestantism,” and “Religion,” Atlantic History, Oxford Bibliographies Online, Oxford University Press, 2009, http://aboutobo.com/atlantic-history.
  • “Cultures of Colonial Settlement,” in Blackwell Companion to American Cultural History, 17-31, edited by Karen Halttunen. Blackwell Publishing, 2008
  • “The Problem of Land, Status, and Authority: How Early Governors Negotiated the Atlantic World,” New England Quarterly 78 (2005): 515-46.
  • “English Character and the Fiasco of the Western Design,” Early American Studies 3 (Spring 2005): 1-31.
  • “Between Religious Marketplace and Spiritual Wasteland: Religion in the British Atlantic World,” History Compass Viewpoint, Blackwell Publishing, 2004. http://wip.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/compass
  • “A West Indian Colonial Governor’s Advice: Henry Ashton’s 1646 Letter to the Earl of Carlisle,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 60 (2003): 383-422.
  • “Martyred by the Saints: Quaker Executions in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts,” in Colonial Saints: Discovering the Holy in the Americas, 1500-1800, 169-91, edited by Allan Greer and Jodi Bilinkoff. Routledge, 2003.
  • “Religion,” in The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800, 69-89, edited by David Armitage and Michael J. Braddick, foreword by John Elliott. Palgrave, 2002. Second edition, 2009, 71-92.
  • “Catholicism, Identity and Ethics in The Sopranos,” in A Sitdown with the Sopranos: Watching Italian American Culture on TV’s most talked-about series, 129-48, edited by Regina Barreca. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
  • “Mutinies on Anglo-Jamaica, 1656-60,” in Rebellion, Repression, Reinvention: Mutiny in Comparative Perspective, 63-84, edited by Jane Hathaway, foreword by Geoffrey Parker. Praeger, 2001.

Graduate Students

Nicole Gilhuis, 2013-

Matthijs Tieleman, 2014-