Carla Pestana

Carla Pestana

Distinguished Professor and Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World


Office: 5391 Bunche Hall

Phone: 310-825-1883

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Carla Gardina Pestana, Distinguished Professor and Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World, studies the 17th and 18th century Atlantic worlds, especially the English Atlantic; the Caribbean; religion and empire.

Carla 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 published books on religion and empire in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, most notably Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World (2009). On the subject of empire, she authored The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661 (2004); and The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire (2017); She is also the co-editor with Sharon V. Salinger of Inequality in Early America (1991), and  a multi-volume collection of primary texts on the early English engagement in the Caribbean, The Early English Caribbean, 1570-1700. Her most recent books are The World of Plymouth Plantation (2020) and, co-edited with Eliga Gould and Paul Mapp, volume 1 of the Cambridge History of America and the World, 1500-1820.

Between 2016 and 2018, she blogged for the Huffington Post; follow this link to read posts:

Her teaching interests range over similar fields to those explored in her publications.

She is the immediate past President of FEEGI (Forum on Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions); an OAH Distinguished Lecturer, 2016-2025; and the Acting President of the Association of Caribbean Historians. From 2018 to 2022, she served as chair of the history department.

Field of Study

United States (early period to 1800), Atlantic World, Caribbean


Current research focuses on the maritime history of the Caribbean.



  • The Cambridge History of America and the World, vol. 1: 1500-1825, co-editor with Eliga H. Gould and Paul W. Mapp. Cambridge University Press, 2022
  • The World of Plymouth Plantation. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020.
  • The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire. Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2017.
  • The Early English Caribbean, 1570-1700. 4 vols. Co-edited with Sharon V. Salinger. Pickering/Chatto, 2014.
  • 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

  •  “Atlantic mobilities and the defiance of the early Quakers,” Journal of Early Modern History (forthcoming 2024)
  • “Richard Dunn’s Atlantic World,” roundtable on Sugar and Slaves in Eighteenth Century Studies 56:1 (2022): 1-6.
  • “Distance and Blame: The Rise of the English Planter Class,” Early American Studies 20:4 (Fall 2022): 557-75.
  • “The Uses of Plymouth Plantation,” Early American Literature 56:1 (2021): 183-190.
  • “Plymouth Plantation’s Place in the Atlantic World,” New England Quarterly 93:4 (December 2020): 588-607.
  • “Reworking Reformation in the early English Atlantic,” Protestant Empires: Globalizing the Reformations, edited by Ulinka Rublack. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020, 30-55.
  • “Why Atlantic Piracy?” in The Golden Age of Piracy: The Rise, Fall, and Enduring Popularity of Pirates, edited by David Head. University of Georgia Press, 2018, 15-31.
  • “Protestantism as Ideology in the British Atlantic World,” in Colonial America: An Atlantic Handbook, edited by Ignacio Gallup-Diaz. Routledge, 2017.
  • “State Formation from the Vantage of Early English Jamaica: The Neglect of Edward Doyley,” Journal of British Studies 56 (July 2017): 1-23.
  • “George Whitefield and Empire,” in George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy, edited by Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones. Oxford University Press, 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, revised most recently, 2023.

Awards & Grants

  • 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
  • Clark Professor, Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies, UCLA; Core Program: Early Global Caribbean, 2024-25


  • 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

Graduate Students

  • Nicole Gilhuis, Ph.D., “Colonial Ghosts: Mi’kmaq Adoption, Daily Practice & the Alternate Atlantic, 1600-1763,” 2020
  •  Matthijs Tieleman, Ph.D., “A Revolutionary Wave: Dutch and American Patriots in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World,” 2021
  • Christian Zavardino, M.A., 2022
  • Elizabeth Landers, Ph.D. Candidate (2020-)
  • Arranne Rispoli, Ph.D. Candidate (2021-)


UCLA, MA, 1982; PhD, 1987; Loyola Marymount University, BA, 1980