Our PhD program boasts a core strength in historical approaches to race, ethnicity, and identity in national and transnational contexts. With 11 faculty—six of whom are jointly appointed with the Institute for Ethnic Studies—our concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Identity clusters around three main groups—African Americans, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, and Latin Americans. Our faculty also address race, ethnicity, and identity in Africa and the Middle East. Scholars in this focus field work from the understanding that race and ethnicity intersect with a range of other identity markers such as gender, religion, sexual orientation, and nationality. Race, class and gender are the transmission lines along which power flows. We offer students the opportunity to evaluate these social interactions and analyze the nature of historical social and political power.
Several institutions at the University help to facilitate the study of race, ethnicity, and identity:
Additionally, several prominent archives are within a day’s drive from campus, including:
Waskar Ari-Chachaki is an Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies/Latin American Studies, and affiliate of Women’s and Gender Studies. His overall historical research is concerned with native peoples of the Andes, colonialism, and decolonization in the context of comparative transnational history. His work particularly emphasizes race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. His book, Earth Politics: Religion, Decolonization, and Bolivia’s Indigenous Intellectuals was published in February 2014 by Duke University Press. He is now working on the development and circulation of discourses of social and economic autonomy among Aymara women from 1850 to 1964. He completed his Ph.D. at Georgetown University in 2005.
Thomas (“Tim”) Borstelmann is the Elwood N. and Katherine Thompson Professor of Modern World History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His books include Apartheid’s Reluctant Uncle: The United States and Southern Africa in the Early Cold War (1993), The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena (2001), and The 1970s: A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality (2012). He is currently at work on a book on how Americans have understood non-Americans across the sweep of U.S. history. Borstelmann served as Vice President (2014) and President (2015) of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.
Dawne Y. Curry is an Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies and affiliate of Women's and Gender Studies, who specializes in African social and oral history. Her research explores how Africans contested the relations of power before and during South Africa's apartheid era. She is the author of Apartheid on a Black Isle: Removal and Resistance in Alexandra, South Africa (2012). She is currently working on a monograph on African women as intellectuals that will explore the various ways that these subjects contributed to political thought on segregation, marriage, gender, identity, and race.
Bedross Der Matossian is an Associate Professor of History concentrating on Modern Middle East History. He completed his PhD at Columbia University in 2008. His areas of interest include ethnic politics in the Middle East, inter-ethnic violence in the Ottoman Empire, Palestinian history, and the history of the Armenian Genocide. He is the author of Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire (Stanford University Press, 2014).
James Garza is an Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies, and specializes in nineteenth and twentieth-century Mexican history, Latin American and global environmental history, U.S.-Mexican Borderlands history and Mexican-American Studies. His research focuses on how urban and rural landscapes were constructed over time using cultural and racial processes. His research also analyzes how the 1910 Mexican Revolution affected the political and social development of Mexican-American identity. He is the author of The Imagined Underworld: Sex, Crime and Vice in Porfirian Mexico City (University of Nebraska Press: 2008). He is currently working on an environmental history of the Valley of Mexico.
Margaret Huettl is our newest Assistant Professor in History and Ethnic Studies. A scholar of Native American history and North American Wests, her research examines Indigenous sovereignty and settler colonialism in a transnational context. Her current project, “Ojibwe Peoplehood in the North American West, 1854-1954,” explores Ojibwe or Anishinaabe sovereignty in the United States and Canada during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, centering her research on Anishinaabe ways of knowing. Her research and teaching interests focus on Indigenous histories in North America, with a special interest in ethnohistorical methods and public history.
Margaret Jacobs is the Chancellor’s Professor of History. She specializes in transnational and comparative studies of the American West with a focus on Indigenous peoples, women and gender, and children and family. Through comparisons with Australia and Canada, she conceptualizes the American West as a site of settler colonialism and examines the complex historical processes and interactions that developed from this enterprise.
Katrina Jagodinsky is an Assistant Professor of History, specializes in borderlands and legal history. She is interested in the complex intersections of race, gender, and the law in the North American West. She focuses primarily on the periods of transition from colonial, to territorial, to early statehood legal regimes. Her scholarship examines the efforts of marginalized people to exercise rights within expansionist contests of power.
Jeannette Eileen Jones is an Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies and affiliate of Women’s and Gender Studies, specializes in American cultural and intellectual history and African American Studies. Her research examines the ways in which “race” operated as a potent signifier of difference—cultural, biological, social, and political—in the United States and the West during the “long 19th century” and the early 20th century. She is the author of In Search of Brightest Africa: Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936 (2010), and is currently working on a monograph and digital history project that explores U.S. engagement with the “African Question” from 1847-1919.
Patrick D. Jones is an Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies, received his Ph.D. in modern U.S. History and African American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. Among his areas of specialization are race relations, the civil rights and black power era, race and American politics, African Americans in the "jazz age," and 20th-century African American culture. Jones is the author of The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee (Harvard University Press) and In Their Own Image: Artifacts from the Great Plains Black History Museum (Donning Company).
Victoria Smith is an Associate Professor of History and Native American Studies, and concentrates on the 19th-century Native American West, with a specialization in Arizona and Apache history. She teaches about the evolution of federal Indian policy in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is a Cherokee, Delaware and Lumbee descendant through the Harmon/ Anderson/Oxendine/Smith line.
William G. Thomas III is the John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Nebraska. He currently serves as the Chair of the Department of History. He is a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. He has produced award-winning digital history projects, and his research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. His most recent book is The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America (Yale University Press, 2011). He is currently writing a history of early Washington, D.C. and the problem of slavery and freedom in post-Revolutionary America.
Our Graduate Students
When you come to study Race, Ethnicity, and Identity at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, you join a community of other graduate students.