Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1997
Michelle Brattain specializes in modern U.S. history, the history of ideas about race, Southern history, and labor history. She teaches undergraduate courses on the U.S .in the 1960s, the U.S. in the twentieth century, and the history of race, ethnicity and ideas about human variation. Her recent publications include ““Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism: UNESCO and the Politics of Presenting Race to the Postwar Public,” (2007); “Miscegenation and Competing Definitions of Race in Twentieth-Century Louisiana,” (2005); and The Politics of Whiteness: Race, Workers, and Culture in the Modern South (2001). She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern History and is an officer in the Southern Labor Studies Association.
She is currently working on a book project titled What Race Was: Popular and Scientific Constructions of Race in the Postwar United States. The project examines the emergence of a peculiarly “modern” race concept in an era when scientific ideas about human variation were in flux and social activism led to an embrace of civil rights. Examining race in postwar popular culture, science, education and other sites, it shows how the meaning of race changed in popular and scientific discourse but remained an artifact of lingering faith in “natural” categories of human variation, the primacy of nature over nurture, and basic assumptions about difference.
“Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism: UNESCO and the Politics of Presenting Race to the Postwar Public,” American Historical Review, 112 (December 2007) 1386-1413.
“Miscegenation and Competing Definitions of Race in Twentieth-Century Louisiana,” in Best American History Essays 2007, ed. by Jacqueline Jones (New York: Palgrave, 2007) 199-234.
The Politics of Whiteness: Race, Workers, and Culture in the Modern South. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).
“The Pursuits of Post-exceptionalism: Race, Class, Gender and the New Southern Labor History.” in Labor in the Modern South, ed. by Glenn Eskew, (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001) 1-46.