JACKSON — A book written by an associate professor at Mississippi College has earned a top honor from the Mississippi Historical Society.
The society has named “Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands,” by Dr. Christian Pinnen, associate professor of history and political science, the best Mississippi history book published in 2021.
Published by University of Georgia Press, the book has drawn rave reviews. One member of the society’s selection panel called it “deeply researched and original” and “engaging to read.”
“It is filled with individual stories as well as thoughtful analysis, and engages with Mississippi history in a truly global context,” the panelist said. “Pinnen weaves together legal history, race, and gender to show how the interplay of Native Americans, people of African descent, and European and American settlers created the changing landscape of slavery in early Mississippi.”
The award includes a $700 cash prize. Pinnen will accept the award and deliver a lecture during the society’s annual meeting March 10-11 in Hattiesburg.
Pinnen said the book “investigates the story of enslaved people arriving in what was then Colonial Mississippi and tracks the development of how Black people were perceived, how different European empires described blackness and how they then legally tried to relegate black people to slavery.”
Pinnen, who teaches U.S. history, history of the Old South, Latin American survey, the American Revolution and American slavery, said having the Mississippi Historical Society recognize his work was very meaningful.
“I’m very pleased and ecstatic that they would select my book,” he said. “It’s just an honor. I’m a member of the society, I’ve been on the board there, and I know the books go through a pretty rigorous process. Mississippi is quite a well-researched area, and I’m sure there were quite a few books submitted for the award. It’s very gratifying that a committee of experts looked at all these books and picked mine. That is quite humbling.”
Founded in 1858, the Mississippi Historical Society is a nonprofit group that encourages outstanding work in interpreting, teaching, and preserving Mississippi history.