Robert Harms, PhD

  • Henry J. Heinz Professor of History
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, History

Robert Harms, who received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978, is the author of River of Wealth, River of Sorrow: The Central Zaire Basin in the Era of the Slave and Ivory Trade (1981), Games Against Nature: An Eco-Cultural History of the Nunu of Equatorial Africa (1988/1999), and The Diligent: Worlds of the Slave Trade (2001). His graduate courses include reading seminars on African environmental history and African agrarian history, and a research seminar on African History.

Professor Harms’ celebrated book, The Diligent: Worlds of the Slave Trade, is based on the extraordinary journal of French lieutenant Robert Durand who participated in the slave trade. Click here to watch a short TV news report about Professor Harms’ research. Then look at the sample entry from Lieutenant Durand’s journal below, which is located in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

Education
  • PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1978
  • MA, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1973
  • BA, Tabor College, 1968
Publications
  • "The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds of the Slave Trade", New York: Basic Books, 2002.
  • Games Against Nature: An EcoCultural History of the Nunu of Equatorial Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Second edition, 1999.
  • River of Wealth, River of Sorrow: The Central Zaire Basin in the Era of the Slave and Ivory Trade, 1500-1891. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.
International activities
  • Colonialism in Equatorial Africa
    Belgium, Congo, France, United Kingdom, Tanzania (2007-Present)
    This project traces the transformation of the Congo River Basin from an unexplored territory in 1875 to the most brutally colonized region of Africa three decades later.

Languages
French, Swahili