Geographic Fields of Study

Look below for more information on our geographic fields of research specialities. You will also find faculty who specialize in each field.

Africa

North, Sub-Saharan

African history is a new and dynamic field dating back to the 1960s. It was linked to the decolonization of Africa and the need for new national states to have a usable past. During the next four decades the field of African history has moved away from colonial and Eurocentric formulations to stressing African agency and creative adaptations and representations. It relies on innovative fieldwork as well as more traditional archival research.

Minnesota has one of the leading programs in African social history in the country. Our overarching concern is to put African women and men—in their classes, families, communities, and workplaces—firmly into our scholarship. In our courses we challenge old analytical categories and artificial temporal or spatial divides to examine dynamic relations of power, and conflict and negotiations at the local, national, and transnational levels.

Faculty

Asia

East Asian History

The study and teaching of East Asian history has undergone tremendous expansion and change in the past decade, reflecting the region’s growing global significance. The historiography of East Asia is similarly undergoing great change and taking on importance well beyond the field. The East Asia faculty at the University of Minnesota have diverse historiographical interests and strengths, specializing in the early modern and modern periods. Together, the East Asia faculty bring a broad range of research interests to the table, from science and technology, to gender and identity, to urban and rural history. The work of our faculty and the training we provide to our graduate students emphasize both attentive archival work and engagement with ongoing debates in and outside our respective fields. Our graduate students typically work across Asia and with colleagues specializing in other regions of the world. A strong comparative focus is encouraged. Many of our graduate students have received Graduate Research Partnership Program grants from the College of Liberal Arts that provide summer funding to work jointly with faculty members on research papers. Our East Asia library has a growing collection. Through a consortium with other Big Ten schools we have access to tens of thousands of volumes via interlibrary loan. The China Center also offers scholarly support and resources to East Asianists.

South Asian History

South Asian history is a vibrant field of study, and the University of Minnesota’s program takes advantage of the current advances in cultural studies as well. South Asian subaltern studies has made a substantial impact on history as a field in general, and Professor Ajay Sakaria has long been a member of its editorial collective. Our program emphasizes environmental history, colonialism, intellectual history and modernity.

Faculty

  • Iraj Bashirir: Islamic world and literature
  • Christopher M Isett: Post-war East Asian political economies, global and post-war capitalism, East Asia's Cold War, comparative economic history, agrarian, 18th-20th century China
  • Mai Na Lee: Southeast Asia
  • Hiromi Mizuno: Modern Japan, gender and sexuality, cultural studies of science and technology
  • Ajay Skaria: South Asia, environmental history
  • Ann Waltner: Traditional China
  • Liping Wang: Modern Chinese social and cultural
Europe

Modern Europe

The study of European history since the era of the French Revolution addresses concerns that reverberate throughout the modern world.

Europe’s development of industrial capitalism restructured the global economy through markets and imperialism. The emergence of the nuclear family system and the reconstruction of gender relations that typified nineteenth-century middle-class ideals have also had far-reaching consequences.

Modern European political development has been marked by the construction of "public spheres" and civil societies with their concomitant notions of limitations on government, but also by the institution of the nation-state with its potential for totalitarianism and racism.

Indeed, at the center of much scholarship in modern European history, including that of our own faculty, are the tensions between the impulse to question and remake human institutions that has been characteristic of European culture and politics since the Enlightenment, and the equally prevalent impulse toward domination and control.

Medieval Europe

We have one of the strongest Medieval Europe graduate programs in the country, with numerous graduate students and a large undergraduate following for our survey and topics courses.

Our range of specialties is broad, from Mediterranean history to Scandinavia, from the early to the late Middle Ages, from economic history to politics, military history, and institutions, to women, gender, and minorities, to exploration and cross-cultural contacts, to legal history, church history and the crusades. The field of medieval European history at Minnesota has a long tradition of scholarship enlivened by new focuses in social, cultural, and gender studies.

The Centers for Medieval Studies and Early Modern History provide important resources and intellectual community for medievalists at Minnesota.

Faculty

  • Juhana Aunesluoma: 20th century Europe, Cold War, Scandinavia, Finland
  • Bernard S. Bachrach: Renaissance and medieval eras, medieval military
  • Margaret Carlyle: Early Modern Europe, France, women, science, and medicine
  • Anna Clark: British, Irish, European, women, gender, sexuality
  • Gary Cohen: Austria and Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, modern European social and political history
  • Kirsten Fischer: Colonial and revolutionary America, United States, social and intellectual
  • Andrew Gallia: Ancient history
  • Ruth Mazo Karras: Medieval Europe, women and gender history
  • Patricia Lorcin: Modern France, western imperialism, colonial and postcolonial, Mediterranean
  • Howard Louthan: Early Modern Europe; Central Europe; cultural, intellectual, and religious history
  • Michael Lower: Crusades, Medieval Mediterranean, Christian-Muslim relations
  • Nabil Matar: Modern Arabic literature; Arab-Islamic civilization
  • Saje Mathieu: African-American, American social and political history, comparative immigration
  • Mary Jo Maynes: Modern Germany, European social, women
  • Kathryn L Reyerson: Medieval Europe, Mediterranean Europe, Medieval France, social and ecomonic history, legal history
  • Daniel Schroeter: Jewish, North African, Mediterranean
  • JB Shank: Early modern Europe, France, European intellectual, history of science
  • Ajay Skaria: South Asia, environmental history
  • Theofanis G Stavrou: Russia, modern Greek studies, Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Andrea Sterk: ncient and medieval Christianity, late antiquity, Byzantium history
  • Igor Tchoukarine: 20th century Europe, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, history of tourism
  • John Watkins: Sovereignty and queenship, medieval and early modern diplomacy, premodern political culture, classical and medieval origins of the Renaissance
  • Thomas Wolfe: European Union, Soviet Union, history of media and communications, pragmatism
Latin America

This is a very exciting time for doing Latin American history. The boom in social history continues, while newer approaches influenced by cultural studies, gender analysis, legal studies, and new political history have also taken off. Current research is integrating the insights of social history into a fresh analysis of politics and state formation, examining how groups such as indigenous communities, urban workers, and women both reacted to and helped shape state policies and national identities. In addition, historians continue to challenge traditional periodizations; many studies, for example, now bridge the late colonial and early republican eras.

Minnesota's Latin American program has strengths in many of these diverse areas. Additionally, the geographic strengths of the History faculty cover much of the continent, with particular expertise in MesoAmerica, Chile, Peru, and Colombia from both colonial and modern perspectives.

Several of the Department's centers and workshops contribute comparative perspectives to Latin American history, such as the Center for Early Modern History and the Comparative Women's History Workshop, and faculty and students regularly collaborate with the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.

Faculty

Middle East

Although the program in the Middle East and the Islamic World is the history department’s newest area of graduate study, its faculty is already among the largest and most comprehensive of any comparable history program in the United States. Outside of the department, students are also encouraged to work with a list of more than a dozen scholars in related fields of both the humanities and social sciences. In addition, the University of Minnesota has begun an aggressive expansion of its related language offerings, which now include regular instruction in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu.

Faculty

North America, United States

New directions in the field of early US history involve the reconceptualization of the old US colonial history to a new broader focus on North America in the early modern Atlantic world, and bridge the divide from the colonial to the post-Revolutionary periods. The new approaches draw on international, comparative, and interdisciplinary perspectives on the interactions between Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans in North America. They focus on borders, encounters, and frontiers; and explore questions of authority, identity, meaning, practice, relationship, and causality in economic, political, religious, social, and cultural arenas. Our faculty adopt many of these approaches in their research and teaching, and the department is particularly strong in the social and economic history of early America, specializing in race and gender.

Modern US history is an exciting and rapidly changing field. The University of Minnesota has been at the forefront of these changes and is well positioned to continue that leadership. Social and cultural history, in particular, have been central to the reshaping of historical approaches and interpretations, fields in which this department has long been very strong. Our thematic sub-fields, in addition, link faculty and students to comparative workshops within the department and a wide range of interdisciplinary programs throughout the university.

The University of Minnesota has become the premier training ground for quantitative methods in US history, with an emphasis on social, economic, and demographic studies. The Minnesota Population Center, under the direction of Professor Steven Ruggles, is creating one of the largest historical population databases in the world. The Center offers a collaborative space for faculty and provides training and employment for many of our students.

Scholars of modern American history research and teach on a wide variety of topics including comparative and global histories of migration and immigration, gender, sexuality, class, nationalism, Native Americans, race, the law, and American capitalism.

Faculty

  • Susanna Blumenthal: American cultural and intellectual history, Anglo-American legal history, history of human sciences
  • David Chang: Race and nationalism, American Indian, native Hawaiian, 19th and 20th century United States
  • Tracey Deutsch: United States, women's history, business
  • Gail Dubrow: United States, urban, women's, Asian-American, public history
  • Kirsten Fischer: Colonial and revolutionary America, United States, social and intellectual
  • Katharine Gerbner: Atlantic world, early America, comparative early modern, Caribbean, religion, race
  • J. David Hacker: Demographic history, quantitative history, American Civil War
  • Erika Lee: 20th century United States, Asian-American, immigration, American West
  • Mai Na Lee: Southeast Asia
  • Malinda Lindquist: African-American, United States
  • Saje Mathieu: African-American, American social and political history, comparative immigration
  • Elaine Tyler May: United States, American studies, American women
  • Kevin Murphy: Urban, gender and sexuality, political and cultural
  • Lisa Norling: American Revolution, 18th and 19th century America, women and gender, maritime
  • Jean O'Brien: Colonial American, Native American
  • Steven Ruggles: American demographic and social history
  • Paul C Stone: United States trans-Mississippi Western & North American frontier; American church & religious; 20th century Southwestern
  • Igor Tchoukarine: 20th century Europe, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, history of tourism
  • Barbara Y Welke: American legal and constitutional, American women's, and modern American history
Transregional

Global, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Pacific, Maritime

The History Department has numerous faculty members whose work focuses on global connections with a particular focus on transoceanic spheres. A number of faculty are interested in the ways that oceans and seas have not so much constituted geographic boundaries and barriers between peoples throughout history, but rather served as avenues of connection.

For instance, many of our faculty study aspects of the Mediterranean world. History faculty members are connected to the Mediterranean Research Collaborative of the College of Liberal Arts; many colleagues are involved in interdisciplinary activities across the college and encourage their students to embrace interdisciplinarity as one of the givens in the Mediterranean field and one of the strengths of the History Department. The Mediterranean Research Collaborative has focused its research on the theme, “Mediterranean Identities,” which is a much-contested analytic category. Despite this imprecision and ambiguity inherent in the construct, it allows for examination of hybridities and cultural translations that enrich our understanding of interactions and exchanges among peoples of the Mediterranean. Minnesota scholars interested in the Mediterranean teach graduate courses in wide-ranging interdisciplinary and broad chronological explorations of this world. Students working in the ancient Mediterranean, the medieval Mediterranean, the early modern Mediterranean, and the modern Mediterranean can find faculty and courses at Minnesota, at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Faculty

  • Margaret Carlyle: Early Modern Europe, France, women, science and medicine
  • David Chang: Race and nationalism, American Indian, native Hawaiian, 19th and 20th century United States
  • Andrew Gallia: Ancient history
  • Katharine Gerbner: Atlantic world, early America, comparative early modern, Caribbean, religion, race
  • Christopher M Isett: Post-war East Asian political economies, global and post-war capitalism, East Asia's Cold War, comparative economic history, agrarian, 18th-20th century China
  • Erika Lee: 20th century United States, Asian-American, immigration, American West
  • Mai Na Lee: Southeast Asia
  • Patricia Lorcin: Modern France, western imperialism, colonial and postcolonial, Mediterranean
  • Howard Louthan: Early Modern Europe; Central Europe; cultural, intellectual, and religious history
  • Michael Lower: Crusades, Medieval Mediterranean, Christian-Muslim relations
  • Mary Jo Maynes: Modern Germany, European social, women
  • Lisa Norling: American Revolution, 18th and 19th century America, women and gender, maritime
  • Kathryn L Reyerson: Medieval Europe, Mediterranean Europe, Medieval France, social and ecomonic history, legal history
  • Steven Ruggles: American demographic and social history
  • Daniel Schroeter: Jewish, North African, Mediterranean
  • JB Shank: Early modern Europe, France, European intellectual, history of science
  • Ajay Skaria: South Asia, environmental history
  • Andrea Sterk: Ancient and medieval Christianity, late antiquity, Byzantium history
  • Igor Tchoukarine: 20th century Europe, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, history of tourism
  • John Watkins: Sovereignty and queenship, medieval and early modern diplomacy, premodern political culture, classical and medieval origins of the Renaissance
  • Thomas Wolfe: European Union, Soviet Union, history of media and communications, pragmatism