Assistant Professor of US History and the College
Faculty Affiliate, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture
On Research Leave, 2019–20
PhD'11 Yale University
Department of History
University of Chicago
1126 E. 59th Street
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 (Harvard, 2018), 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 on research fellowship in 2019–20 at the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, University. She is at work on a new project about gun violence and the history of the 1990s. 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, 2018.
"Lynching and Power in the United States: Southern, Western, and National Vigilante Violence from Early America to the Present." History Compass 12, no. 1 (Jan. 2014): 84–99.
—"Virginia Pro-Gun Rally Reveals Extremist Tactics," op-ed, CNN, Jan. 20, 2020
—Paramilitary Groups on US-Mexico Border
—"The History of White Power," op-ed, New York Times, Apr. 18, 2019
—Publishes Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (Harvard, 2018)
—Frontline interview, Nov. 20, 2018
—Democracy Now! interview, Nov. 20, 2018
—MSNBC Morning Joe interview, Nov. 19, 2018
—Daily Beast, discusses Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Oct. 2, 2018
—The Jacobian podcast interview, Oct. 2018
—Discusses keeping armed militia out of cities for Vice, Sept. 4, 2018
—"The Story of Charlottesville," (6 podcasts) Past Punditry, n.d.
—Democracy Now! "Paramilitary Violence in the United States," July 24, 2018
—New York Times, "Where Did the Radical Right Come From?" July 6, 2018
—Q&A with the New York Times on "The Secret History of White Power," May 19, 2018
—Speaks with CBS News on cell-style terrorism in the white power movement, May 2018
—Discusses "How America's White Power Movement Coalesced after the Vietnam War," with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Apr. 25, 2018
—Speaks with NPR Books, "Lone-wolf Terrorists Are Really Part of a Pack," Apr. 22, 2018
—Writes Op-Ed for the New York Times on the Oklahoma City Bombing, Apr. 18, 2018
—Vox Q&A, "How the Vietnam War Created American's Modern 'White Power' Movement," Apr. 13, 2018
—Slate Q&A, "The Secret Cohesion of White Supremacists,"Apr. 11, 2018
—Political Reserach Associates in-depth Q&A, "White Revolution and the Legacy of the Vietnam War," Apr. 11, 2018
—Discusses [at 34:10 mins] "leaderless resistance" on This American Life, Sept. 22, 2017