“The Accidental Slaveowner is a beautifully written account of the complex ways in which family and institutional histories and memories of slavery are told and retold by blacks and whites in this country. At its heart is the important national story of the split of the Methodist Episcopal Church into northern and southern factions over the meaning of slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. Mark Auslander has taken this institutional history and uncovered the personal stories of families and communities who felt and still feel the reverberations of that conflict down to the present day. With a detective’s attention to detail and a novelist’s love of people and their stories, Auslander has written a lucid, passionate work.”

“This stunning book applies anthropological perspectives on myth and kinship to the pervasive legacy of slavery, which still dominates American understandings of race, humanity, freedom. Auslander’s skilled collaboration with the descendants of ‘Miss Kitty,’ sometimes called ‘the person who caused the civil war,’ brings the unexpected story of her family to light, forging firm links across separations of black and white, slave and master, past and present. In the process, haunting fallacies are exorcised, and nagging paradoxes of blood and betrayal find voice, making possible new lines of debate, and novel pursuits of understanding, even justice.”

This website is for the book 'The Accidental Slave Owner' by Mark Auslander, Associate Professor of Anthropology &

Director of the Museum of Culture and Environment at Central Washington University (Ellensburg, WA)

Recent updates:


Leslie M. Harris, Department of History/African American Studies, Emory University  (author of In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863)

–Jean Comaroff,  Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago (author ofBody of Power, Spirit of Resistance: The Culture and History of a South African People; co-author of Of Revelation and Revolution; Ethnicity, Inc.)


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