Michele Mitchell

Associate Professor of History

Northwestern University, PhD 1998

Office Address: 

King Juan Carlos Center, Room 413



Field of Study: 

United States

Research Interests: 

African Diaspora; Gender and Sexuality; West/East/South Africa; feminist theory


Michele Mitchell is associate professor of history at New York University and former North American editor of Gender & History. In addition to histories of gender and sexuality, she specializes in U.S. history, African American history, the African diaspora, and intellectual history. Her research interests also include the history of medicine. She has served as an elected member of the National Council of the American Studies Association (2009-2012) and was a member of the ASA’s Executive Committee from 2010-2012. She recently completed her last year (2011-2014) on the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians. The Organization of American Historians appointed her as a Distinguished Lecturer from 2010-2013. In addition to being a 2001-2002 Schomburg Center & National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library), Mitchell has received a range of fellowship support for her work. Mitchell has also worked as a researcher for two major documentary projects: “Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American Life in the Jim Crow South” (Duke University); and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project (Stanford University). Mitchell is now writing a book that is tentatively entitled Idle Anxieties: Youth, Race, and Sexuality during the Great Depression. Above and beyond considering myriad ways in which idleness among workers, transients, and the poor was deemed a threat to social order, Idle Anxieties will examine how concerns about youth and idleness were suffused with gendered, sexualized, raced, and classed meanings as it considers changing notions of time, productivity, and leisure during economically slack years.


Committee on Committees (elected), American Historical Association, 2014 – 2017; Executive Board (elected), Organization of American Historians, 2011 – 2014; Advisory Board, New York University Press, 2010 – present; Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians, 2010 – 2013; Executive Committee, American Studies Association, 2010 – 2012; National Council (elected), American Studies Association, 2009 – 2012; North American Co-Editor of Gender & History (2005 – 2008); Schomburg Center & National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar-in-Residence, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, 2001 – 2002; J. Franklin Jameson Fellowship Award, American Historical Association & the Library of Congress, 2001– 2002 (Declined); Fellow, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, 1997 – 1998; Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 1996 – 1997; Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow, 1996 – 1997 (Declined); Huggins-Quarles Award, Organization of American Historians, 1996; Pre-Doctoral Fellow, The Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies, University of Virginia, 1994 – 1996; Field Researcher (Louisiana), “Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South,” Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, 1994; Researcher, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project, Stanford University, 1991.

Selected Works:


RighteousPropagationBOOK.jpgRighteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny after Reconstruction.  (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) 






DialoguesBOOK.jpgco-edited with Sandra Gunning, and Tera W. Hunter.  Dialogues of Dispersal:  Gender, Sexuality, and African Diasporas.  (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004)

MiescherMitchellShibusawacover.jpg   co-edited with Stephan F. Miescher and Naoko Shibusawa. 
Gender, Imperialism and  Global Exchanges (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2015)

Current Project:

Idle Anxieties: Youth, Race and Sexuality during the Great Depression (monograph; in progress)


"Introduction: Gender, Imperialism, and Global Exchanges," Co-authored with Naoko Shibusawa, Gender & History 26:3 (November 2014): 393-413

"Turns of Kaleidoscope: 'Race, 'Ethnicity, and Analytical Patterns in American Women's and Gender History," Journal of Women's History 25:4 (Winter 2013): 46-73

Comment on "Silences Broken, Silences Kept: Gender & Sexuality in African-American History, "Gender & History 11:3 (November 1999), pp. 433-444, which was chosen as one of the "ten...most influential articles published in Gender & History over the last twenty-five years." Gender & History Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Virtual Issue (2013)

"'A Corrupting Influence': Idleness and Sexuality during the Great Depression," in Interconnections: Gender & Race in American History, ed. Carol Faulkner and Alison Parker (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2012), pp. 187-228.

"What a Pure, Healthy, Unified Race Can Accomplish': Collective Reproduction and the Sexual Politics of Black Nationalism."  Renewing Black Intellectual History: The Ideological and Material Foundations of African American Thought.  Adolph Reed, Jr., Kenneth w. Warren et al.  (Boulder and London: Paradigm Publishers, 2010), pp.  158-183.

"Practicing Gender History," editorial co-authored with Karen Adler and Ross Balzaretti, Gender & History 20:1 (April 2008): 1-7.

"'Lower Orders,' Racial Hierarchies, and Rights Rhetoric: Evolutionary Echoes in Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Thought during the late 1860s." Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Feminist as Thinker:  A Reader in Documents and Essays, ed. Ellen Carol DuBois and Richard Cándida Smith (New York:  New York University Press, 2007), pp. 128-151. 

"Introduction, "Gender, Sexuality, and African Diasporas," co-authored with Gunning and Hunter, in Dialogues of Dispersal, pp. 1-12; Gender & History 15:3 (November 2003): 397 - 408

Comment on Fernando Martínez Heredia's "Nationalisms, Races, and Classes in the Revolution of 1895 and the Cuban First Republic," Cuban Studies 33 (2002): 124-128.

Exhibit review, "Of the People: The African American Experience," Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, Michigan), The Public Historian 23:2 (Spring 2001: 124-126.

"Silences Broken, Silences Kept: Gender & Sexuality in African-American History." Gender & History 11.3 (November 1999): 433-444.  Also published in Gender & History: Retrospect and Prospect, ed. Leonore Davidoff, Keith McClelland, and Eleni Varikas (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 2000), pp.15-26.  Translated as "Silences maintenus et secrets rompus: genre et sexualité dans l'histoire africaine-américaine." Trans. Anne Hugon.  Clio: Histoire, Femmes, et Sociétés 16 (2002): 271-291.

"'The Black Man's Burden': African Americans, Imperialism, and Notions of Racial Manhood, 1890-1910." International Review of Social History Supplement 44:4 (1999), pp. 77-99.  Simultaneously published in Complicating Categories: Gender, Class, Race, and Ethnicity, ed. Eileen Boris and Angelique Janssens (Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 77-99. 

Published Fieldwork:

Interviews with Delores Thompson Aaron, Jessie Lee Chassion, and Brenda Bozant Davillier in Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South, A Book-and-CD Set, ed. William H. Chafe, Raymond Gavins, and Robert Korstad with Paul Oritz, Robert Parrish, Jennifer Ritterhouse, Keisha Roberts, and Nicole Waligora-Davis (New York: The New Press, 2001).

Excerpt of interview with Jessie Lee Chassion available on "Voices from Behind the Veil:  Selections from the Center for Documentary Studies" (disc two, track three); produced by Stephen Smith of American Radio Works in collaboration with the Behind the Veil Project, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University.

Selected Consulting:

On-screen commentary, History of sex: The 20th Century, H2 Network (History Channel). Preview Airdate: September 16, 2014

Radio Interview, The Departed - Extinction in America, BackStory with the American History Guys, Released April 18, 2014

Commentary, Web Exclusive Videos on "African Slave Trade," "American Railroad," "The Amazing ALCAN," "Bloody Sunday 1965," and Social Animals," Mankind: The Story of All of Us, The History Channel

"America I Am:  The African-American Imprint" (touring museum exhibition; John Fleming, Executive Producer; Fath Davis Ruffins, National Curator)

"A Dream Deferred" (Program 4), course installment for "Transforming America:  U.S. History Since 1877," PBS Adult Learning Service & Annenberg/CPB.  Producer: Dallas Telelearning. Preview Airdate:  February 17, 2005.  Release date: Fall 2005

“Global Feminisms:  Comparative Case Studies of Women’s Activism and Scholarship. Site:  USA,” thematic film (on-screen commentary); Global Feminisms Project, University of Michigan.  Interview:  Winter 2005

"Marcus Garvey:  Look for Me in the Whirlwind" (documentary);  American Experience (PBS). Produced and Directed by Stanley Nelson;  Associate Producer, Gwendolyn D. Dixon;  written by Marcia Smith;  Executive Consultant, Robert Hill.  First Airdate:  February 12, 2001.

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Updated on 04/27/2015