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.
In North America, the significance of Indigenous history is hard to miss. Unresolved Aboriginal title throughout much of British Columbia keeps topics like treaties and pipelines in the news, while the abuses of the residential schools have focused Canada’s attention on its colonial legacy. South of the 49th parallel, Native American issues are an important part of the US scene, from casinos and fishing rights to national rituals like Thanksgiving and Columbus Day/International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. In this course, we will explore the broad sweep of encounters between Indigenous and colonial societies over the past five centuries, with an emphasis on connecting contemporary issues to their historical origins and global contexts. Topics will include traditional practices, land claims, educational assimilation, cultural appropriation, urban migration, environmental justice, religious and linguistic revival, human rights and citizenship, and political activism. Because Indigenous peoples around the world face similar colonial policies and practices, and take part in similar struggles for cultural recognition and political rights, we will draw on examples from places as far-flung as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, Mexico, South Africa, China, Norway, and Brazil. This course will also introduce students to basic historical practice, including doing history in solidarity with Indigenous communities, nations, and agendas.
This course examines in depth the rich and complex histories of one of the United States’ most interesting and hotly-debated regions: the West. We will begin by exploring the pervasive mythologies of the “frontier” and the American West more generally; then dive deep into Indigenous, colonial, and American histories of the region; and then end the course by thinking about the legacies of these histories for contemporary communities in the West. Topics will range from Hollywood Westerns to nuclear testing and other environmental impacts, from policies of genocide to Indigenous survivance, from diverse ethnic histories in the region to the role of white supremacy across the West.
This course has three major components. First, we will examine contacts between and among diverse peoples in many of the places that came to be known as “the Pacific World”: Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, the Northwest Coast, and elsewhere, focusing mostly on the 17th to 19th centuries (but reaching back to the first peopling of these territories). Second, we will explore the challenges – theoretical, moral, methodological, and beyond – of cultural encounter. Third, we will make connections between early contacts the present day, thinking critically about the legacies of events that are not really in the past at all. While there are no prerequisites for this course, students are strongly encouraged to come with some background in Indigenous issues.