Mariana Dantas is a specialist in the histories of slavery in the Atlantic World, and of the African Diaspora. She received her doctoral degree from The Johns Hopkins University, where she worked with two highly distinguished scholars, historian of colonial British America Jack Greene, and historian of the early modern Portuguese world John Russell-Wood. Her first book, Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth-Century Americas, provides a comparative analysis of blacks, slave and free, as urbanizing agents in the Americas, and discusses the various ways in which their struggle for freedom and autonomy intersected with, and affected, urban development in Brazil and the United States. It was published by Palgrave in 2008. She has also published a few book chapters in edited volumes and an article in the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. Her reviews of other works in her field have appeared in important journals such as the Journal of American Ethnic History, and the American Historical Review. Dr. Dantas's current research examines individual and collective efforts by persons of African descent to define the social meaning of racial categories used in Colonial Brazil, and to exercise some control over the influence dominant racial practices had on their everyday lives.
Dr. Dantas teaches a variety of courses at Ohio University: World History since 1750; US History from 1600 to 1865; Colonial Latin America; History of Brazil; and History of Slavery in the Americas. Her favorite course, however, is History 301J, the department's research and writing class. She thoroughly enjoys helping students develop research papers on their topics of interest, and finds this work to be her most rewarding teaching experience with OU undergraduates. Aside from teaching regular classes, Dr. Dantas has also advised a few honors thesis on topics relating to colonial Latin America and slavery, and works closely with graduate students in the Latin American Studies program.
- Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth-Century Americas. New York: Palgrave, 2008.
- "Humble Slaves and Loyal Vassals: Africans and Their Descendents in Eighteenth-Century Minas Gerais." In Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America, edited by Andrew B. Fisher and Matthew D. O’Hara. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.
- "Inheritance practices among individuals of African origin and descent in Eighteenth-century Minas Gerais, Brazil." In The Faces of Freedom: the Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery, edited by Marc Kleijwegt. Leiden: Brill, 2006.
- "‘For the Benefit of the Common Good’: Regiments of Cašadores do Mato in Minas Gerais, Brazil." Journal of Colonial History and Colonialism 5, no. 2 (fall, 2004).