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Rachel Herrmann

Dr Rachel Herrmann

Senior Lecturer in Modern American History (Study Leave 2022/3)

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 29208 75647
John Percival Building, Room Room 4.08a, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


I specialise in colonial, Revolutionary, and Atlantic history, with particular focus on food, hunger, water, and borders in the Atlantic World. I am interested in the ways that people used hunger to forge alliances and engage in violence, and curious about how hunger’s meanings have changed over time.












Book sections



My book, No Useless Mouth: Waging War and Fighting Hunger in the American Revolution, was published in 2019 by Cornell University Press. In it, I argue that people were not useless mouths; from 1763 to 1815 they refused food, ignored hunger, tried to prevent it, and used it to obtain and retain power. It shows how conflicting British ideas of hungry and non-hungry Native Americans resulted in a distinctive food diplomacy driven by Indian customs; how Americans had to replicate this diplomacy in the eighteenth century before circumscribing food aid to Indians during the 1810s; and how former slaves who migrated out of North America and attempted to prevent hunger in the British Empire became food rioters. During the American Revolution hunger was something to be created or endured; by the late eighteenth century, it was something people tried to prevent. Perceptions of hunger prevention in the Atlantic World changed over time as a result of British and American interactions with Native Americans, enslaved peoples, and free black colonists. This research has won funding from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the David Library of the American Revolution, the Huntington Library, International Security Studies at Yale, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the New York Public Library, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the William L. Clements Library.

My interest in cannibalism—which was a product of the absence of food—grew from a paper I wrote as an undergraduate, which became a Master’s dissertation, which became my first article. In the summer of 2015, a group of scholars gathered at the University of Southampton for a conference I organised, called “Cannibalism in the Early Modern Atlantic,” which was generously funded with a grant from the Wellcome Trust. Selected conference participants’ essays were published in 2019 in To Feast on Us as Their Prey: Cannibalism and the Early Modern Atlantic by the University of Arkansas Press. Historians, literary theorists, and theatre studies scholars offer new interpretations of cannibalism in British North America, the United Kingdom, the Spanish Caribbean, and Africa. Their essays explore cannibalism’s connections to cooperation, histories of food, histories of eating, and histories of hunger. In 2020, To Feast on Us as Their Prey won the ASFS Book Award for an edited volume from the Association for the Study of Food and Society.

I remain fascinated by many aspects of food and hunger history, and am beginning a second book project on water, hunger, and borders. In this research I examine the introduction of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century hunger prevention initiatives and these initiatives’ relationships with the reorganization of terrestrial, riverine, and coastal borders. In dealing with the history of the changing relationship between hunger and borders, this project will contribute to what we know about the Atlantic World by providing a longer and more integrated history of empires misconstruing reasons for taking space. Research on this project has been funded by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, the University of Southampton, the Newberry Library, and the Leverhulme Trust.

As part of this second book project, I am the Principal Investigator (working with my Co-Investigator, Dr Jessica Roney, from Temple University, Philadelphia, USA) on an AHRC Networking Scheme grant, 'Geographies of Power on Land and Water: Space, People, and Borders'. This funding has allowed us to host three linked events investigating how early modern empires, on-the-ground inhabitants, and voyagers defined, defied, and took advantage of Atlantic World borders, be they on land or on water. An edited volume is in progress.

I am also a co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Global Food History.

Please click here for my personal website.


I teach modules on Native American history and the American Revolution, with a focus on cooperation, diplomacy, imperialism, and violence. I am happy to supervise students working on colonial and revolutionary history, Native American history from the sixteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries, and histories of food and hunger.

I currently teach

HS1754: The American Revolution

HS1889: From Hernando de Soto to the Seven Years’ War: Accommodation, Violence and Networks in Native American History


I'm originally from Manhattan, and earned my BA at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY and my MA and PhD at the University of Texas at Austin. While completing my PhD, I held fellowships at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and International Security Studies at Yale. Before working at Cardiff, I was a Lecturer in Early Modern American History at the University of Southampton from 2013 to 2017.


The American Revolution

Native American history

Histories of food and hunger

Histories of borders in the early modern Atlantic World

Hunger Games

Hunger Games

25 March 2019

External profiles