Assistant Professor of US History and the College
Faculty Affiliate, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture
PhD 2011 Yale University
Social Science Research Building, room 225C – Office
(773) 702-5937 – Office telephone
(773) 702-7550 – Fax
The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 E. 59th Street, Mailbox 53
Chicago, IL 60637
Twentieth-century United States, violence, militarization, women and gender, cultural history, race and racism
Belew specializes in the recent history of the United States, examining the long aftermath of warfare. Her first book, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (under contract with Harvard University Press), explores how white power activists wrought a cohesive social movement through a common story about the Vietnam War and its weapons, uniforms, and technologies. By uniting previously disparate Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, skinhead, and other groups, the movement carried out escalating acts of violence that ricocheted through Latin America, southern Africa, and the United States, revealing white power as a transnational phenomenon. Bring the War Home shows how this paramilitary fringe movement augmented, clashed with, and challenged other militarizations in the same time period, including paramilitary foreign policy and extralegal intervention, militarized policing, and the growth of the carceral state. White power activists often collided with refugees displaced by US warfare, and reinforced state border patrols at home and covert interventions abroad. While some have understood these actors as part of a culture of masculinity, white power paramilitarism was also a cohesive social movement comprising a wide range of activists and supporters, including women and families. This account connects the overtly racist organizing of the 1980s with the militia movement, culminating in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Before coming to the University of Chicago, Belew held postdoctoral fellowships from Northwestern University and Rutgers University. Her research has received the support of the Andrew W. Mellon and Jacob K. Javits Foundations, as well as an Albert J. Beveridge and John F. Enders grants for research in Mexico and Nicaragua. She earned her AB in the comparative history of ideas from the University of Washington in 2005, where she was named Dean’s Medalist in the Humanities. Her MPhil (2008) and PhD (2011) in American studies are from Yale University.
Belew is at work on two new projects, one focusing on processes of militarization in the domestic United States and the other on ideas of the apocalypse in American history and culture. Her award-winning teaching centers on the broad themes of conservatism, race, gender, violence, identity, and the meaning of war.
"Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America." Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, under contract.
Review of David Kieran's Forever Vietnam: How a Divisive War Changed American Public Memory. Journal of American History (forthcoming, December 2015).
"Lynching and Power in the United States: Southern, Western, and National Vigilante Violence from Early America to the Present." History Compass 12, no. 1 (January 2014): 84–99.
“Kathleen Belew on Teaching Histories of Violence.” Process (Organization of American Historians blog). March 31, 2015.
"Veterans and White Supremacy," New York Times, April 15, 2014.