Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of US History and the College

Faculty Affiliate, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture

PhD'16 Stanford University
AB'10 Columbia University

Mailing Address

The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 E. 59th Street, Mailbox 20
Chicago, IL 60637

William Rainey Harper Memorial Library,
East Tower, room 687 – Office
(773) 834-3145 – Office telephone
(773) 702-7550 – Fax

Research Specialties

Twentieth-century United States, African American history, urban studies, race and inequality, and the history of capitalism


Destin Jenkins is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He earned his BA in modern U.S. history from Columbia University and earned his PhD in U.S. history from Stanford University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 2017.

Jenkins’s current research centers on the linkages between the American state, racial capitalism, and the built environment. His first book, tentatively titled Bonded Metropolis: Debt, Redevelopment, and Racial Inequality, engages the paradox of municipal debt. Municipal debt became a key means by which officials in San Francisco delivered infrastructure and social services to the city’s white middle and upper class. That expansion of a broader social wage was predicated on the dispossession of black renters, regressive taxation, and the rendering of some the city’s neighborhoods unworthy of debt. All the while, bondholders were able to secure guaranteed tax-exempt interest income, effectively turning public housing projects, parks, and schools into artifacts of high federal marginal tax rates; the precursors to today’s off-shore tax-havens. A social history, Bonded Metropolis explores how debt became a constraint on democratic state power. He is co-editing a volume, with Justin Leroy, tentatively titled The Old History of Capitalism, for Columbia University Press.

Jenkins’s broader academic interests include American political development, the illicit economy, uneven development, empire, and, increasingly, the environment. He has written for Process: A Blog for American History, and Public Books, where he also edits the capitalism series.


HIST 17704 The Old History of Capitalism (Winter 2019)—History Gateway Course
HIST 48501 Colloquium: Governance through Debt (Autumn 2018)
HIST 29673 History Colloquium: The Politics of Housing (Autumn 2018)
HIST 29519/39519 Histories of Racial Capitalism (Autumn 2017)

In addition to these offerings, he teaches on American history, urban/suburban history, comparative race and ethnicity, black internationalism, and historiography.


Reviews Richard Rothstein's The Color of Law for Public Books, Dec. 28, 2018.
—"The Racial Wealth Gap and the Problem of Historical Narration," Process (blog), Jun. 27, 2017.