Professor of History
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Professor Bernstein is a historian of the United States, focusing on the 19th-century, the Black experience, and the long history of the politics of slavery, emancipation and race, with its reverberations to the present day. He has written extensively on the intersections of the war that was/is North American slavery and the American Civil War, its dynamics, causes, consequences, and afterlives in collective memory, material landscape, and political imagination and desire. Professor Bernstein’s research gives special attention to the traumatic foundations of racialized violence and locates those foundations in structures of imperial expansion and conquest, politics and law, household and family, religion and sexuality, and struggles over possession and dispossession, boundary violation and democratic love. Within this broad compass, his writing has engaged topics ranging from the roots of the annihilating violence of New York City draft riots, to the racialized origins of the American Civil War writ large, to James Baldwin and American democracy, to the material worlds of modern segregation in St. Louis in the long era of Ferguson.