Comparative History: Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism

Graduate students interested in exploring comparative historical approaches have the option of mastering literature in one of five sub-fields: "Historiography," "Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism," "Comparative Gender," "Comparative Colonialisms," and "Global and Comparative Environmental History." Each of these fields allows graduate students to situate their own focused research in broadly conceived historiographies.


Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism

This field prepares graduate students to analyze the historical formation of ethnic and national identities across time and space. Students will explore the ways in which race, ethnicity, and nation are shaped in conversation with gendered, class-based, political, and regional senses of self. Those focusing on this field will be expected to study relevant theoretical literatures emanating from various sub-fields of History. In addition, they may choose to concentrate on particular case studies related to their areas of interest.

Associated Faculty

Professor Dong

Madeleine Yue Dong

Professor, Joint Appointment: Jackson School of International Studies
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Asia--Pre-History to the Present

    Students preparing this field will consider China in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including social, cultural, gender, urban history.

    Division: Comparative History (Comparative Gender & Comparative Ethnicity & Nationalism)

    Students preparing a field in Comparative Gender will consider the transformation and reconstruction of gender boundaries and identities through political, social, and cultural discourses and practices. Students preparing a field in Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism will study China from an empire to a nation state, and formation/transformation of regional, ethnic, gender, and class identities in the process, as well as Chinese nationalism and revolutions and their relations to imperialism and colonialism.


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Susan A. Glenn

Susan A. Glenn

Professor, Samuel and Althea Stroum Chair in Jewish Studies
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: United States History

    Students may emphasize the cultural and/or social history of the U.S. in the long twentieth century (since the l870s). Topics of study include immigration and ethnic group life, social and political movements, women and gender, race relations, expressive and popular culture.

    Division: Comparative History (Comparative Gender & Comparative Ethnicity & Nationalism)

    A field in comparative gender with Professor Glenn will emphasize the history and historiography of gender and women's history. Areas of study include the relationship between gender and race, ethnicity, nationalism, class, and social movements as well as the significance of gender ideology in the production and consumption of expressive and popular culture. Comparisons will focus on the U.S. and another geographic area (in conjunction with another faculty member).

    Students may also work with Professor Glenn on a sub-field of Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism with a focus on Jewish history/identity/ethnicity; Jews, Blacks, and the racial imaginary in the American and European contexts..


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Liora Halperin--headshot

Liora Halperin

Professor , Joint Appointment: Jackson School of International Studies
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Africa and the Middle East

    Students may work with Prof. Halperin to develop a field focused on the history of Modern Israel/Palestine. This field will situate Palestine/Israel within both Middle East and Jewish historiography, with the particular emphasis depending on the student’s research and teaching objectives. It will draw together works in both Israel Studies and Palestine Studies, pertaining to cultural, economic, social, political, and intellectual history.

    Division: Europe, Africa and the Middle East, or Russia

    Students may develop a field with Prof. Halperin on Jewish history during the Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern periods. This can be structured as primarily a Europe or Russia field or as primarily a Middle East field, but will in any case explore interrelations between these fields and, secondarily, between these fields other world regions. This field may examine the evolution of relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims; Jews and the state; forms and challenges of emancipation; commercial networks; cultural, linguistic, and social history; the history of anti-Judaism and antisemitism; and Jewish contact with and entanglements with colonial and imperial projects.

    Division: Comparative History (Comparative Colonialisms)

    Students may develop a field with Prof. Halperin that explores variants of modern colonialism in global perspective; the interplay of colonialism, civic nationalism, and ethnonationalism; the economic history of empire; and the emergence of the field of settler colonial studies.

    Division: Comparative History (Ethnicity and Nationalisms)

    Students may develop a field with Prof. Halperin exploring modern ethnonational movements in comparative perspective with particular emphasis on Europe (including Eastern and South Eastern Europe), the Middle East, and South Asia. This field may integrate readings on language revival efforts, cultural movements, anti-imperial nationalisms, and the emergence of the nation-state system and concepts of autonomy, minority rights, partition, and migration.

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Jung Photo

Moon-Ho Jung

Professor, Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: United States

    The field of Asian American history encompasses a broad range of topics and methodologies that often cross disciplinary and geopolitical boundaries. Students pursuing this field are expected to read widely and critically, with an emphasis on historiographical shifts and debates. In particular, they will investigate how the field has evolved over time and challenged and reproduced traditional narratives of U.S. history. Students are also encouraged to converse with a vibrant community of faculty and graduate students specializing in Asian American Studies at UW.

    Division: Comparative History (Comparative Ethnicity & Nationalism)

    Students will explore how race and nation have been articulated in U.S. history, framed theoretically and globally. Students may choose to emphasize particular time periods, theoretical approaches, and geopolitical frameworks as they study how racial concepts, representations, and practices shaped American national identities. Possible topics of concentration include whiteness, imperialism, labor migration, and transnational social movements.


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Vince Rafael 2022

Vicente L. Rafael

  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Asia--Pre-History to the Present

    This field is constructed with an emphasis on island Southeast Asia and the Philippines from 1521 to the present.

    Division: United States History

    Asian American socio-cultural histories, with an emphasis on Filipino Americans and Filipino overseas workers

    Division: Comparative History (Historiography, Comparative Ethnicity & Nationalism, and Comparative Colonialisms)

    A field in Comparative Historiography will include Nationalist and postcolonial conceptions of history, deconstruction, critical theory especially as these relate to the politics of translation, religion, and media technologies. A field in Comparative Colonialisms will carry a focus on United States and Spanish imperialism in Asia and the Pacific. The field in Comparative Nationalism and Ethnicity focuses on the historical and technological conditions for the rise of nationhood, as well as the role of mass media, translation and the languages of power in nationalist discourses.

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Christopher Tounsel

Christopher Tounsel

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Director, African Studies Program
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Africa & the Middle East

    Students may work with Professor Tounsel to develop a field in African history focused on
    North Africa and/or sub-Saharan Africa during the colonial and postcolonial eras. The field
    could concern social, political, religious, and economic subjects of study including slavery and
    abolition, the Scramble for Africa, resistance and nationalism, Pan-Africanism, Christianity and
    Islam, and other subjects. Students will work with Professor Tounsel to develop a course of
    study that incorporates canonical scholarship, general and nuanced coverage, and specific
    themes tailored to their interests and needs.

    Division: Comparative Histories (Comparative Colonialisms)

    Students may work with Professor Tounsel to develop a field of Comparative Colonialisms that
    focuses on 18-20 th century imperialism in Africa, Asia, and the Atlantic World. The field could
    examine colonial regimes following the “Scramble for Africa,” social and political connections
    between Africa and the non-African world, and networks/solidarities forged between colonized
    populations in Africa and beyond. Special attention is given to print media, state and non-state
    actors, intra- and inter-state organizations, and religious institutions.

    Division: Comparative Histories (Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism)*

    Students may work with Professor Tounsel to develop a field of Comparative Ethnicity and
    Nationalism that focuses on racial, ethnic, and religious nationalism in the colonial and
    postcolonial worlds. The field could explore such areas as Pan-Africanism, colonial and
    postcolonial liberation movements, Church-State relations, political theologies, and politically-
    active non-state actors.


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Professor Adam Warren

Adam Warren

Associate Professor
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Latin America

    Students wishing to work on the Latin America field with Professor Warren may focus on any countries in the region and any time periods, although they are particularly encouraged to consider working on mainland Spanish America during the colonial and early postcolonial periods. Special emphasis will be placed on examining and understanding the historiography produced in Latin America itself, and students will be expected to articulate how such literatures differ from the anglophone historiography. With that in mind, reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is encouraged, but not required.

    Division: Comparative History (Comparative Colonialisms & Comparative Ethnicity & Nationalism)

    The field in Comparative Colonialisms examines scholarship on Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in Latin America. While students may read on a wide range of topics of their choosing, special emphasis will be placed on exploring how the relations between colony and metropolis, the structure and practice of colonial power in the colonies themselves, and the forms of popular political culture prevalent in the colonies changed during the early, mid, and late colonial periods. Topics to be covered may include the broader colonial economic system, peasant and slave labor systems, the invention of the ~SIndian~T and other colonial identities, religious conversion as a tool of colonialism, indigenous and African religious practices, and popular resistance movements. By reading general theoretical literature on colonialism we will also examine the question how does one relate Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in Latin America to later forms of colonial rule elsewhere in the world.

    The field in Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism examines nation-building processes and the politics of race and ethnicity in Latin America, focusing primarily on the Andean region and Mexico since 1821 while also drawing on literature about Brazil for comparative purposes. Topics may include peasant and Indian nationalism, questions of citizenship and liberal equality for Indians versus the maintenance of colonial legal and political categories of race and caste, debates about the abolition of slavery and national identity, medical scientific research and debates about racial degeneration as a national problem in Latin America, ethnicity and social revolutions, and nativist "indigenista" political movements.

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