Dr Kevin Waite
Associate Professor (Modern American History)
|Associate Professor (Modern American History) in the Department of History|
Kevin Waite is a historian of the 19th-century United States with a focus on slavery, imperialism, and the American West. His first book, West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire (UNC Press, 2021), won the 2022 Wiley-Silver Prize from the Center for Civil War Research and was a finalist for three other awards: the Lincoln Prize, the SHEAR Manuscript Prize, and the Paul E. Lovejoy Prize from the Journal of Global Slavery. West of Slavery was named one of the "11 books that shaped how we think about California" by Boom: A Journal of California and one of the "Five Best Books" ever written on the Civil War in the American Far West by the Civil War Monitor.
His next book project reconstructs the life and times of Biddy Mason, an enslaved woman from Georgia who, in the mid-19th century, walked across the continent, broke free from bondage, and helped build modern Los Angeles. The book, provisionally titled American Odyssey, is under contract with University of California Press. That work is funded by a Research, Development, and Engagement Fellowship from the AHRC. From 2019-2022, Kevin co-directed a Collaborative Research Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, investigating the origins of Black Los Angeles with a team of scholars and public historians.
Kevin comments frequently on American history and politics for major media outlets. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Slate, HuffPost, The New Republic, TIME, and National Geographic, among others. One of those articles for the L.A. Times led to the removal of the oldest Confederate monument on the Pacific Coast. He has also spoken about his research on television and radio, including interviews with LBC, LBC News, BBC Radio 3, Metro Radio, National Public Radio, and as a talking head for three TV documentaries. He sat on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Steering Committee for the creation of a memorial to the victims of the 1871 Los Angeles Chinese Massacre, one of the largest mass lynchings in American history. He also helped coordinate a campaign to preserve an endangered series of 1930s murals by the artist Bernard Zakheim, one of which features Biddy Mason. Those efforts have generated extensive media coverage, including stories in The L.A. Times, The New York Times, and NPR.
Kevin received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. He also holds degrees from the University of Cambridge (MPhil, Modern European History), where he was a Herchel Smith Fellow, and Williams College (BA, History, English, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude). He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Kevin welcomes inquiries from prospective students working on a broad range of topics in U.S. history, especially those interested in the American Civil War era, the history of slavery and emancipation, and the American West.
- Waite, K. (2021). West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire. The University of North Carolina Press
Chapter in book
- Waite, K. (2019). Custer's Last Stands: Remaking an American Frontier Legend in Hollywood Film. In J. H. Inscoe, & E. M. (Eds.), Writing History with Lightning: Representations of Nineteenth Century America on Film. Louisiana State University Press. https://doi.org/10.31390/cwbr.21.2.13
- Waite, K. (2019). War in Indian Country. In A. Sheehan-Dean (Ed.), The Cambridge History of the American Civil War. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316563168
- Waite, K. (2023). The Brittle West: Secession and Separatism in the Southwest Borderlands during the Civil War Era. Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 127(1), 8-28. https://doi.org/10.1353/swh.2023.a900767
- Waite, K. (2020). The Lost Cause Goes West: Confederate Culture and Civil War Memory in California. California History, 97(1), 33-49. https://doi.org/10.1525/ch.2020.97.1.33
- Waite, K. (2016). Jefferson Davis and Proslavery Visions of Empire in the Far West. The journal of the Civil War era, 6(4), 536-565. https://doi.org/10.1353/cwe.2016.0072
- Waite, K. (2014). Beating Napoleon at Eton: Violence, Sport and Manliness in England's Public Schools, 1783-1815. Cultural and Social History, 11(3), 407-424. https://doi.org/10.2752/147800414x13983595303390
- Waite, K., & Broxton, J. (in press). Why is UC San Francisco threatening to destroy a monument to California's Black history? (The Los Angeles Times)
- Waite, K. (2021). The little-known story of how slavery infiltrated California and the American West (The Conversation)
- Waite, K. (2021). Why California’s slavery reparations task force has the power to transform us all (The Los Angeles Times)
- Waite, K. (2021). Build a memorial to the victims of the 1871 Los Angeles Chinese Massacre (The Los Angeles Times)
- Waite, K., & Gordon, S. B. (2020). California's forgotten slave history (The Los Angeles Times)
- Waite, K. (2020). California finally sweeps away most of its tributes to the Confederacy. What took so long? (The Los Angeles Times)
- Waite, K. (2018). Early California lawmakers also preached #resistance -- against immigration (The Los Angeles Times)
- Waite, K. (2018). Kanye West's rants on slavery align alarmingly well with popular views of American history (The Los Angeles Times)
- Waite, K. (2017). The struggle over slavery was not confined to the South, L.A. has a Confederate memorial problem too (The Los Angeles Times)
- Waite, K. (in press). UCSF should save this California monument to Black history (San Francisco Examiner)
- Waite, K. (2021). America's Western Problem (History Today)
- Waite, K., & Dilawar, A. (2021). The Southerners Who Dreamed of a Slaveholding Empire (Jacobin)
- Waite, K. (2021). California's Vigilante Tradition (Los Angeles Review of Books)
- Waite, K. (2021). The Forgotten History of the Western Klan (The Atlantic)
- Waite, K. (2021). Congress is still littered with insurrectionists (Slate)
- Waite, K. (2021). What Slavery Looked Like in the West (The Atlantic)
- Waite, K. (2021). The sinister reason why camels were brought to the American West (National Geographic)
- Waite, K. (2021). The bloody history of anti-Asian violence in the West (National Geographic)
- Waite, K., & Gordon, S. B. (2020). The other slavery part of Utah's history (Salt Lake Tribune)
- Waite, K. (2019). California's Forgotten Confederate History (The New Republic)
- Waite, K. (2019). Why it's always Infrastructure Week (Washington Post)
- Waite, K. (2018). The missing statues that expose the truth about Confederate monuments (Washington Post)
- Waite, K. (2017). The largest Confederate monument in American can't be taken down (Washington Post)
- Waite, K. (2017). Robert E. Lee WAS a man of honor. That's the problem (Washington Post)