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James F. Brooks

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Carl and Sally Gable Distinguished Professor of History

I am an interdisciplinary scholar of the Indigenous and Colonial past, having held professorial appointments at the University of Maryland, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Berkeley, as well as fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, and Vanderbilt University’s Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. In 2002 I became director of SAR Press, and between 2005 and 2013 served as president of SAR. I recently concluded ten year’s service on the Board of Directors of the Western National Parks Association, which supports research, preservation and education in 67 National Parks, including Coronado National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and Channel Islands National Park. A Trustee of the Santa Barbara Mission Archive/Library, I also serve as advisory scholar to the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History.  I maintain a Research Professor appointment at UCSB to support graduate training, and hold the position of Senior Consulting Editor of The Public Historian, the flagship journal of that discipline. There we host graduate student assistant editors from UGA under the Gable Editorial Training program.

Research Interests:

Brooks is the recipient of numerous national awards for scholarly excellence. His 2002 "Triple-Crown" winning (Bancroft, Parkman, and Turner Prizes) Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands focused on the traffic in women and children across the region as expressions of intercultural violence and accommodation. He has also published the edited volumes Confounding the Color Line: the Indian-Black Experience in North America (2002), Women and Gender in the American West (2004), Small Worlds: Method, Meaning, and Narrative in Microhistory (2008), Keystone Nations: Indigenous Peoples and Salmon in the North Pacific (2012), and Linking the Histories of Slavery: North America and its Borderlands (2015). His Mesa of Sorrows: A History of the Awat’ovi Massacre appeared from WW Norton in 2016, and garnered the 2017 Caughey Prize for the most distinguished book on the American West from the Western History Association, and the 2017 Ermine Wheeler-Voeglin Book Award for best book-length contribution to the field from the American Society for Ethnohistory. His latest projects include guest-edited volumes of the Journal of the Civil War Era (March 2021) and The Western Historical Quarterly (June 2021) on the theme "Unholy Union: Southern and Western History," lecturer in the NEH Landmarks of American History: Borderlands of Southern Colorado teachers workshops, and board service on the History of Slavery at UGA "Recognition, Reconciliation, and Redress" project. Finally, he is a featured speaker in the Smithsonian Institution's September 25th (2021) Symposium on The Other Slavery: Histories of Indian Bondage from New Spain to the Southwestern United States.

Brooks embraces an expansive view of the colonial South, and is at work on a book, Picketwire, which reaches from the Cherokee town of Great Tellico in the early 18th century to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in the 20th century.

Events featuring James F. Brooks
Virtual

You're invited to a day of reflection, remembrance, and understanding at the Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center to view the new exhibit, Unsilenced: Indigenous Enslavement in Southern Colorado, and participate in activities throughout the day. 

  • 2 pm Exhibit Open House/Reception with artist jetsonorama
  • 4:30 pm Dineh Tah'…

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