He teaches and researches broadly in social movements, U.S. history and politics, and African American history. In particular, his work focuses on the history of African slavery in the Americas, the international movements to abolish African slavery and the intellectual history of pan-Africanism.
His research has been funded by such institutions as the American Council of Learned Societies, the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History and the Schomburg Center for the Study of African American Life and Culture.
Olsavsky has a B.A. in history and German literature from the University of Toledo, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in American and Atlantic history from the University of Pittsburgh.
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