20th Century United States, Race and Racism, Cultural History, Violence
Office: Harris Hall #242
Kathleen Belew (Ph.D., Yale University, 2011) specializes in the history of the United States after the Vietnam War, examining the war’s long aftermath on the American home front. She teaches courses on the American Vigilante, Histories of Violence in the United States, the Vietnam War, and comparative race and racism. Her work has received the support of the Andrew W. Mellon and Jacob K. Javits Foundations, as well as Albert J. Beveridge and John F. Enders support for her transnational research in Mexico and Nicaragua.
Her first book, Bring the War Home: Vigilantism, Race, and Violence from Vietnam to Oklahoma City (under contract, Harvard University Press) will trace the circulation of violence from the Vietnam War, to Central America, to the United States, following a small but influential group of veterans who became mercenary soldiers and then joined racist right groups at home. Their movement united Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, proponents of Christian Identity, and more; declared war on the government in 1983; and reshaped itself as the purportedly nonracist militia movement in the 1990s. Belew examines the relationship between veterans and racist movements throughout the twentieth century, circulations of military weapons and technology, and connections between seemingly disparate racist groups.
Originally from Colorado, Belew earned her B.A. in Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington in 2005, where she was named Dean’s Medalist in the Humanities. She has also taught at Yale University, Rutgers University, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her second project, a long cultural history of the American vigilante from early America to the present, emphasizes the constitutive power of violence in nation-building. She is affiliated with the Northwestern American Studies Program.