Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of US History and the College

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

On research leave, 2020-21

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

Race and Capitalism


Destin Jenkins is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He specializes in racial capitalism’s history and consequences for democracy and inequality in the United States. He earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia University (2010), and doctorate from Stanford University (2016). He has held fellowships at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, and the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies at The New School.

His first book, The Bonds of Inequality: Debt and the Making of the American City (The University of Chicago Press, forthcoming), explores the paradox of municipal debt. At one level, debt remade distressed streets and crumbling sewage systems in ways that improved the overall quality of life in the postwar city. At another level, debt furthered what he calls the “infrastructural investment in whiteness,” an illicit white racial advantaged earned through the particular ‘work’ that whiteness performed at mid-century. In both cases, borrowing redistributed wealth upwards in ways that widened the wealth gap. The Bonds of Inequality uses San Francisco to open up larger, national questions about the history of capitalism, the built environment, and who rules in and over the city.

Destin Jenkins is also co-editor of the forthcoming volume, Histories of Racial Capitalism (Columbia University Press). His writings have appeared in The Washington Post, The Nation, Just Money, among other outlets.

Jenkins’s next project moves in the direction of crime and punishment to offer a social and political economic history of bail in the United States during the long twentieth century.

Jenkins teaches on the history of racial capitalism, urban history, African American history, comparative race and ethnicity, and mass incarceration.


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.