Politics, Public Life & Governance

Politics, Public Life, and Governance builds on the current renaissance in political history, broadly defined, at Duke and in the profession as a whole.  This resurgence has involved a breakdown of older boundaries of political history with the infusion of concepts, methods, and findings from social and cultural history.  The most exciting work in the field now stems from the recognition that politics is conducted in distinct ways by a wide variety of groups, including the formally disenfranchised, and that governance takes place through numerous institutions, including many that are not part of the state, among them labor unions, trade associations, communal organizations and more.  What unites faculty in this area is interest in exploring the workings of power: who has it, who lacks it and why; how it is exercised and experienced and negotiated; and how and why its character and distribution have changed over time.

The ways we explore these issues, however, vary across geographic regions, thematic subfields, conceptual frameworks, and analytic lenses such as political economy, gender, race, class, and nation.  Areas of particular strength at Duke include the intersections of state and empire formation; high politics, public policy, and the evolution of national states; formal institutions such as early modern charter companies, the military, and corporations as distinct political communities and instruments of innovation and domination; popular politics and social movements; citizenship and the law as sites of political contestation and recognition and categories for political inclusion and exclusion; the relationship between strategies of governance and the evolution of modern capitalism in different societies; the modern administrative state as a pivotal site of economic and political conflict; political violence, including state violence; and the transnational flows of political ideas, movements, policies, and identities.

Faculty and students working in this area benefit from an unusual array of resources.  Among them are the area’s outstanding research libraries and archival collections including collections on segregation and civil rights at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies, Sanford School of Public Policy, and Program on History, Public Policy and Social Change and a series of collaborative seminars including The Moral Challenges of Poverty in North Carolina (Duke-UNC), Rethinking Regulation (Duke-UNC), and Global Governance and Democracy (Duke faculty/graduate students).

People

Edward J. Balleisen, Associate Professor of History

Office: 210 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-2699

My research and writing explores the historical intersections among law, business, politics, and policy in the modern United States, with a growing focus on the origins, evolution, and impacts of the modern regulatory state.  I have pursued a number of collaborative projects with historians and... full profile »

Dirk Bonker, Associate Professor in the Department of History

Office: 208 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-3930

I am a historian of the United States and Germany, who focuses on questions of militarism, warfare, and empire in the long twentieth century. In my work, I also address larger questions about how best to "globalize" and "internationalize" U.S and German histories in the modern age. full profile »

James Gregory Chappel, Assistant Professor in the Department of History

Office: 327 Carr Building, Durham, NC 27708-0719

I study the intellectual, political, and religious history of modern Europe. I am currently completing a manuscript entitled "Spiritual Welfare: Catholic Political Economy in Twentieth Century Europe" (forthcoming from Harvard University Press). This work studies Catholic social-economic thought... full profile »

Laura F. Edwards, Peabody Family Professor of History in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

Office: 333 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 668-1435

My research focuses on women, gender, and the law in the nineteenth-century, particularly the U.S. South. In addition to articles on these topics, I have published four books: A Legal History of the Civil War and Reconstruction:  A Nation of Rights (2015); The People and Their Peace:... full profile »

John D. French, Professor of History

Office: 331 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-2536

I am an historian of modern Latin America with a specialization in Brazil. Since 2005, I have been working on a book entitled "Lula's Politics of Cunning: From Trade Unionism to the Presidency in Brazil" which draws on a multi-year international research project on “Nurturing Hope, Deepening... full profile »

Thavolia Glymph, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies

Office: 236 Friedl Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 668-1625

Thavolia Glymph is Associate Professor of History at Duke University in the Departments of African & African American Studies and History and a Faculty Affiliate in the Duke University Population Research Institute (DuPri) and the Program in Women's Studies. Glymph is a historian of the... full profile »

Reeve Huston, Associate Professor of History

Office: 212 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27710
Phone: (919) 684-2271

My research focuses on the emergence of two-party democracy in the United States--a process that took place between the 1790s and the 1840s. My current book project examines the origins of Jacksonian democracy. I also think and write about social and political conflicts over the distribution of... full profile »

Nancy MacLean, William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy

Nancy MacLean is an award-winning scholar of the twentieth-century U.S., whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and... full profile »

Martin A. Miller, Professor with Tenure

Office: 337 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-3575

Professor Miller's interests are in Modern Russian history, the history of psychoanalysis in Russia, and comparative and international terrorist movements. full profile »

Jocelyn Olcott, Associate Professor of History

Office: 201 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 668-5298

Jocelyn Olcott is Associate Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. Mexico. Her first book, Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico, explores questions of gender and citizenship in the 1930s.  Her second book, International Women’s Year:  The... full profile »

Gunther W. Peck, Associate Professor of History

Office: 308 Carr Bldg, 136 Public Policy, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 668-5297

My research focuses on the long history of human trafficking and its relationship to the evolution of racial ideology, humanitarian intervention, and immigration policy in North America and Europe. In addition to mentoring both History and Public Policy graduate students, I regularly teach four... full profile »

Philip J. Stern, Sally Dalton Robinson Associate Professor of History

Office: Box 90719, History Dept, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 668-1695

My work focuses on the history of Britain and the British Empire, particularly in the early modern period (loosely defined). My first book, The Company-State, is a political and intellectual history of the English East India Company in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I am currently... full profile »

Susan Thorne, Associate Professor of History

Office: 336 Carr, Durham, NC 27708-0719
Phone: (919) 593-2810

My research and teaching interests are most broadly put in the imperial history of industrial capitalism.  I am particularly interested in exploring the intersecting histories of poverty, race-thinking, and class formation in nineteenth century Britain.  Congregational missions and the making... full profile »