College of Staten Island
 The City University of New York
  Zara Anishanslin
Assistant Professor

Zara Anishanslin
Assistant Professor

Office : Building 2N Room 208
Phone : 718.982.3244
Fax : 718.982.2864

Degrees :
PhD, History of American Civilization, University of Delaware

Biography / Academic Interests :
Professor Anishanslin specializes in Early American and Atlantic World History, with a focus on eighteenth-century material culture. Anishanslin received her PhD in the History of American Civilization at the University of Delaware in 2009, where her dissertation, “Portrait of a Woman in a Silk Dress: The Hidden Histories of Aesthetic Commodities in the British Atlantic World, 1688-1790,” won the prize for Best Dissertation in the Humanities.  In 2011, it also won the University of Pennsylvania’s Zuckerman Prize in American Studies.

In 2009-2010, Anishanslin was the Patrick Henry Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University.  Additional fellowships include grants from The Huntington Library, the American Antiquarian Society, Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center, The Library Company, Harvard Atlantic Seminar, McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, and the Winterthur Museum. She is chair and co-program chair of the Seminar in Early American History and Culture at Columbia University.

Scholarship / Publications :
Anishanslin’s first book (forthcoming from Yale University Press) uncovers the many histories hidden within a single object: the 1746 portrait of a woman in a silk dress. This object embodies the imperial trade and global networks of people, ideas, and things that shaped the British Empire. It links four people of distinct backgrounds: a New England artist, a Philadelphia merchant’s wife, a London weaver, and one of early modern Britain’s few women silk designers. Tracing the many transatlantic networks linked to their lives (1686 to 1791) reframes scholarly debates about consumption. Most scholarship on commodities focuses either on labor and production or on consumption and use. This book unifies both. It takes a new look at imperial consumption patterns and the productive labor of women and colonists, men and those in the metropole. It lays bare the brutal reality of the labor—the silkworm’s excretions, the forced work of slaves, the weavers hanged for protesting—that permitted the creation of such luxuries. While historians often discuss luxuries as examples of refinement, this cultural labor history challenges such easy narratives of emulative consumption.     

“Producing Empire: The British Empire in Theory and Practice,” in Andrew Shankman, ed., The World of the Revolutionary Republic: Expansion, Conflict, and the Struggle for a Continent (Routledge Press, 2014).