I teach primarily Indigenous and settler colonial histories. I teach courses ranging from Global Indigenous History to Histories of Place, from the year-long North American Indigenous Survey to First Contacts in the Pacific, and am affiliated with UBC's Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies. I also recently taught for the first time a seminar on the history of death, a new subject for me.
My first book was Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place (Washington, 2007 and second edition 2017), which linked urban and Indigenous histories through the experiences of the local Duwamish people, Indigenous migrants to the city, and the uses of “Indian” imagery in urban landscapes and historical narratives. It argued that instead of being mutually exclusive, urban and Indigenous histories are in fact mutually constitutive. Native Seattle won the 2007 Washington State Book Award, and an article based on one of the chapters, “City of the Changers,” was named best article of 2006 by the Urban History Association.
My latest book is Indigenous London: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire (Yale, 2016), which reframes the metropolis and its history through the experiences of Indigenous people who travelled there, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, beginning in 1502. To support this work, during 2013-2014 sabbatical year I was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Historical Research at the University of London and an Eccles Fellow in North American Studies at the British Library.
In between Native Seattle and Indigenous London, I have published on topics ranging from food and encounter to earthquakes and colonial science. I also co-edited the volume Phantom Pasts, Indigenous Presence: Native Ghosts in North American Culture & History (Nebraska, 2011).
I am currently working on two book projects, both of which involve me returning to the Northwest Coast. The first, entitled SlaughterTown, is an archivally-grounded cross-genre work looking at historical trauma and memory in my hometown of Auburn, Washington, formerly known as Slaughter. It is set primarily in the 1980s, during the US's largest serial murder case, the Green River Killer, but reaches back into the town's history to think about the logics of settler colonialism. The second project, in its very initial phases, is entitled Wrecked: Ecologies of Failure in the Graveyard of the Pacific. It will be a critical cultural and environmental history of shipwrecks on the Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia coasts, focused on how stories of these failed maritime voyages - nearly 3,000 of them! - open up opportunities to think about settler colonialism, Indigenous survivance, and regional history in new ways.
I welcome inquiries.
Funded by a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant; a Hampton Grant and Arts Undergraduate Research Award from UBC; a short-term fellowship from the Huntington Library; and a visiting fellowship at the Institute for Historical Research, School of Advanced Studies, University of London.
Winner of the 2007 Washington State Book Award in History/Biography.
Indigenous peoples from pre-contact to the present in Canada and the U.S. Topics include colonial frontiers, disease, fur trade, government policies, environment, gender, religion, oral narratives, activism, urbanization, and identity.
History of Death - This course is an exploration of the role of death and dying in history a field also known as thanatology. Topics covered will include rituals around death and dying, mourning, mass death, cemeteries as representations of society, ghosts and the undead, extinction, and even the very definition of death. While we will spend a significant amount of time looking at the historical development of dominant North American death practices e.g. the funeral industrial complex and our general distance from death and the dying we will also consider other cultural approaches and contexts. In addition to significant amounts of reading, students will conduct original research and be asked to attend at least one community event dealing with the subject, with the understanding and~
that the history of how we have died tells us a great deal about the history of how we have lived with each other and with the Earth and our fellow planetary inhabitants.