WHA 2020 Election

Article VI of the WHA Constitution and Bylaws explains the function and process of the Nominating Committee for the organization's annual election. This year's Nominating Committee (Carolyn Brucken, Brian DeLay, Andy Kirk, Julian Lim, and Mary Mendoza) arranged the slate and Council approved it. 

Electronic ballots will arrive via email from OpaVote on July 1, 2020. If you do not receive an email on July 1, or prefer a paper ballot, please contact the WHA office (wha@westernhistory.org). This is a great time to make sure your membership is up to date or to join the WHA as a new member!

Your vote matters! Last year the voter turnout rate was just over 50%. The WHA Governance would like to see this increase to over 55% in 2020. 


Susan Lee Johnson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas 

Susan Lee Johnson holds the inaugural Harry Reid Endowed Chair for the History of the Intermountain West at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Johnson has taught North American western history, gender history, and the history of sexuality to undergraduate and graduate students at four state universities, centering questions of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity in the context of changing economies and polities. In addition to history, Johnson has studied, taught, and worked in scholarly publishing, serving on the staff of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and teaching a colloquium that produced a volume of ARCHIVE: An Undergraduate Journal of History. Johnson’s scholarship has focused on relations of power in the West as a place of lived experience and as an imagined space, exploring these themes in Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (Norton 2000), which won the Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy and the W. Turrentine Jackson Prize; Writing Kit Carson: Fallen Heroes in a Changing West (North Carolina 2020); and a new book project, “The Trail the Slaves Made,” a place-based history of how the Santa Fe Trail connected slaveries and emancipations in nineteenth-century North America.

Johnson has enjoyed residential fellowships at the Newberry Library, the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, and the Huntington Library, and is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Johnson first attended a WHA meeting in 1979, and has served the WHA as a member of the Council, as a Local Arrangements Committee Co-Chair, and as member of a Program Committee, the Martin Ridge Huntington Library Fellowship Committee, and the Caughey Book Prize Committee. In 2019, Johnson co-organized the first LGBTQ history tour at a WHA meeting. Johnson is a founding member of the Coalition for Western Women’s History, having attended the first conferences in 1983-84, and is a founding coordinator of CWWH’s QuIT Organizing Committee, which is dedicated to making two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people and pasts a visible and vital force in our field.

Johnson was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, and first crossed the line of semiaridity at fifteen, heading west to Montana. Since then, Johnson has lived in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Nevada, and spends summers in New Mexico. Johnson holds a BA from Carthage College, an MA from Arizona State University, and a PhD from Yale University, and has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Johnson writes, “There could be no greater honor than to have been selected as President-Elect of the organization that is my most cherished intellectual home. The WHA has changed a great deal since I drove from Tempe to attend my first meeting in San Diego in 1979, and I am eager to carry on the work that women, scholars of color, first-generation college graduates, labor union supporters, LGBTQ rebels, and fellow travelers in the WHA have initiated.”

Council Position A

On your ballot you will vote for one person to fill Position A on the WHA Council.

Electronic ballots are available to WHA members on July 1, 2020.

Rachel St. John, University of California, Davis

I am a historian of the North American West. Throughout my career, the West has served as the intellectual container which best encompasses my shifting and broad range of research, teaching, and general interests. I first joined the WHA as an undergraduate and it has been my primary scholarly home ever since. Over the course of my career, I have benefited enormously from the WHA. It has provided me with opportunities to present my work and get feedback, helped me find a community of scholars and friends, and introduced me to a diverse group of scholars and new fields of inquiry. I am grateful to the WHA and welcome the opportunity to serve the organization and its membership.

I am interested in a wide array of “western” topics, but my research and writing have focused on borderlands and the evolution of state power and national identities between the late-eighteenth and early-twentieth centuries. My first book, Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border (Princeton University Press, 2011), focused on the changing form and meaning of the U.S.-Mexico boundary line and how government officials and local people created and contested state power on the border. In my current book project, the Imagined States of America: The Unmanifest History of Nineteenth-century North America, I bring together the histories of a diverse range of polities that challenged the United States, Mexico, and Canada for space on the map of North America. My articles have appeared in edited volumes, academic journals, and mainstream media.

In recent years, I have served the WHA in a variety of capacities, on the Western Historical Quarterly editorial board, on book prize committees, and as a member and co-chair of the conference program committee. Serving as co-chair (with Josh Reid) of the program committee for the 2019 meeting in Las Vegas was my most rewarding role so far. I had the opportunity to work closely with WHA staff and leadership and to communicate and collaborate with a cross-section of the organization. Not only did I get a snapshot of our field’s breadth and the array of important and innovative work being done, but I also learned a great deal about the varied concerns of and challenges facing our diverse membership. As a program committee, we decided to take a big tent approach to the conference—to create a program that was inclusive and welcoming and reflected the diversity of our organization. Should I be elected to the council, I would continue in that spirit.

Juliana Barr, Duke University

Juliana Barr received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin. She joined the department of history at Duke University in 2015 after teaching at Rutgers University and the University of Florida. She specializes in the history of American Indians, colonialism in early America, the Spanish borderlands, and women and gender. She is the author of Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) which was the recipient of several awards, as well as co-editor of Contested Spaces of Early America (University of Pennsylvania, 2014) and Why You Can’t Teach U.S. History without American Indians (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).  She is now at work on a new book, tentatively entitled, La Dama Azul: A Native Story of Colonialism, with the support of fellowships from the Huntington Library and the National Humanities Center.  Her 2017 William and Mary Quarterly article, "There's No Such Thing as 'Prehistory': What the Longue Durée of Caddo and Pueblo History Tells Us about Colonial America," introduces some of the guiding concepts of the book.

Barr has worked annually with public historians and public school teachers through a variety of venues including local and state museums, Humanities Texas, and College Board's AP US History Committee to promote greater public understandings of Native history. She has been a member of the Western History Association for almost twenty years, serving on a range of committees, and hopes to sustain such service to the WHA community as a member of the Council.  In that position, she would continue her focus on programs that encourage awareness of the critical centrality of the Native sovereign past (and present) to understanding local, regional, and continental history in North America.

Council Position B

On your ballot you will vote for one person to fill Position B on the WHA Council.

Electronic ballots are available to WHA members on July 1, 2020.

Michael Witgen, University of Michigan 

I am a scholar of Native, Early American, and Western history at the University of Michigan where I am a Professor in the Department of American Culture, the Department of History, and the Native American Studies Program. I served as the Director of NAS from 2011 to 2014, and from 2018 to 2020. I became a historian, in large part, because of a fight over spearfishing. In the late 1980s members of my tribal community, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe began to spear walleye off reservation and out of season in order to assert their treaty rights and tribal sovereignty. This resulted in a contentious and often violent confrontation with the state and non-Native peoples over political rights, land use, belonging, and history that is a direct reflection of the larger history of the United States. This confrontation convinced me of the importance of placing Native history at the center of North American history. My first book, An Infinity of Nations: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America explored the history of the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Valley as a distinctly Native New World, a place that was claimed by empires but dominated by the Anishinaabe and Dakota peoples. My current book project Seeing Red: Indigenous Land, Black Lives, and the Political Economy of Plunder in North America examines the intersection of race, national identity, and state making in the Old Northwest of the early republic. In addition, I have published articles in The Western Historical Quarterly, The William and Mary Quarterly, Ethnohistory, the Journal of the Early Republic, and The Oxford Handbook of American Indian History. I have been an active member of the WHA for twenty years and helped to found the Indian Scholars Luncheon which established the Indian Student Conference Scholarship. In addition, I have served on the John C. Ewers Prize Committee. I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the WHA council.

Philip J. Deloria, Harvard University 

I am Professor of History at Harvard University and Chair of the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature.  I grew up in Colorado and Washington, and attended the University of Colorado as an undergraduate (Music Education) and MA (Journalism) student, before earning my Ph.D. at Yale University in 1994.  My teaching and research have rested in a productive triangulation among Native American history, Environmental history, and Western history, with a large dash of American Studies thrown in for good measure.  I’ve been coming to the WHA since I was a graduate student, and have served on program and award committees over the years. I have been fortunate to be able to offer significant service to other professional organizations, serving as president of the American Studies Association (2009) and the Organization of American Historians (2022), and would be honored to have the chance to bring my commitment, energy, and experience to the WHA.

My scholarship centers on Native peoples and their material and ideological relations to American culture and politics, most clearly reflected in my first two books, Playing Indian (Yale, 1998) and Indians in Unexpected Places (Kansas, 2004).  My most recent work, Becoming Mary Sully: Toward an American Indian Abstract (Washington, 2019) takes those questions into the realm of art history, situating an unknown Dakota artist in the heart of American modernism, and expanding the particularly western forms of Indigenous modernism commonly centered in Oklahoma and New Mexico.  My current research is split among projects dealing with narrative politics, meteorological history, and county-level environmental/political economies.

I see the possibility of my service on the Council as an opportunity to continue to advance goals critical to the organization and that align with my own interests: affirmative inclusivity, interdisciplinary breadth, publicly-engaged scholarship that serves communities and varied constituencies.  I also see it as an opportunity to link together professional organizations in crucial conversations about our futures.  While the current pandemic highlights the immediate precarity of the annual conference as a format, I have been increasingly concerned over the last few years about its long-term prospects, given steady reductions in travel funding, its carbon footprint in relation to climate change, and resulting cost-benefit analyses of its real utility.  One of my central interests, then, would be in helping strategize transformations and alternatives to the existing fiscal model for the WHA and other professional organizations, as well as the modes of intellectual exchange that result from it.

Nominating Committee Position A

On your ballot you will vote for one person to fill Position A on the WHA Nominating Committee.

Electronic ballots are available to WHA members on July 1, 2020.

Rosina Lozano, Princeton University

The Western History Association and its annual conference have been a constant since my first year in graduate school. I remember attending my first conference in Scottsdale in 2005 and feeling so welcomed by senior scholars from across the region. I knew then that I had chosen the right career goal. Since then, I have benefitted from the mentorship, support, and guidance of more senior colleagues at WHA meetings. Having recently earned tenure due largely to that support and mentorship, I have been looking for ways to give back to the profession. Joining the nominating committee of the WHA is an ideal opportunity. I seek to be more involved as a way of thanking those mentors for their work and join them in helping to make the next generation of historians succeed. The challenges moving forward in our profession in a post-COVID 19 world are added on to the challenges our profession already faced—namely the reality of fewer job opportunities, especially full-time ones that result in many adjunct positions. As a Latina, I am especially interested in the general welfare and elevation of scholars of color and want to promote and support graduate students. I recognize I am in a position of privilege at Princeton, but if elected to the nominating committee I will make it a goal to listen to WHA members so that as an organization we can move toward promoting and supporting equal opportunity, empowerment, and safe conference environments free from harassment or discrimination, all while retaining the collegial and supportive environment that makes the WHA my favorite conference of the year. 

I have previously served on the committee that wrote the sexual harassment policy for the Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS) and am a member of the OAH Committee on the Status of Women in the Historical Profession. I wrote An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States (University of California Press, 2018), which was the winner of the PROSE category award in Language and Linguistics and the IEHS’s First Book Prize. I joined Princeton’s faculty in 2013 after completing my PhD at the University of Southern California (2011). I hold an EdM from Harvard University in Teaching and Curriculum, and earned my BA from Stanford University (2000). I am currently an associate professor.

Alejandra Dubcovsky, University of California, Riverside

Alejandra Dubcovsky is associate professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. She is also the inaugural fellow in the Program for the Advancement of the Humanities, a partnership of The Huntington and UC Riverside that aims to support the future of the humanities. Her first book, Informed Power: Communication in the Early American South (2016), won the 2016 Michael V. R. Thomason Book Award from the Gulf South Historical Association. In 2018, she received a Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Grant and a UC Riverside-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Faculty Exchange Grant, and has worked to build partnerships and intellectual bridges across the US-México border. Her latest articles include, “Writing Timucua: Recovering and Interrogating Indigenous Authorship,” co-written with Aaron Broadwell for Early American Studies (2017), "When Archaeology and History Meet: Shipwrecks, Indians, and the Contours of the Early-Eighteenth-Century South,” in the Journal of Southern History (2018), and " Defying Indian Slavery: Apalachee Voices and Spanish Sources in the Eighteenth-Century Southeast," in the The William and Mary Quarterly (2018), which won the Bolton-Cutter Award from the WHA.

In recent years, Alejandra has had the privilege of participating in the Nominating Committee of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and on the Dissertation Prize Committee for the Western Association of Women Historians, and having worked to increasing the visibility of historically marginalized communities in her research and teaching, she looks forward to bringing that enthusiasm and drive to the WHA and the history profession more broadly. Alejandra began attending Western History Association Conferences only recently (since 2017), but has found it an exciting intellectual home from which to engage in questions about borderlands, movement, gender, and Native History. If elected to the Nominating Committee, she will promote the work, voices, and ideas of a diverse variety of scholars. Moreover, she will seek to highlight community organizers, K-12 educators, and professionals also working in the vast and broadly defined field of the American West.

Nominating Committee Position B

On your ballot you will vote for one person to fill Position B on the WHA Nominating Committee.

Electronic ballots are available to WHA members on July 1, 2020.

Eric C. Nystrom, Arizona State University

Hello western historians! I'm honored and excited to be a candidate for election to the Nominating Committee of the WHA. Since my first conference in San Antonio in 2000, I've thought that the best part about this organization is the terrific mix of smart and caring people from a wide variety of professional and personal places who comprise our membership. As a Nominating Committee member, it would be my duty to make certain election candidates reflect that same diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and personal and professional abilities. In particular, I would look forward to working carefully to ensure that our elected positions are open, in spirit and in actuality, to public historians, academics from community colleges and smaller institutions, and other historians working in contexts different from the WHA's traditional university strongholds.

My academic interests combine the history of technology, public history, digital history, and western history, and I'm especially keen on the history of mining as an expression of these broader fields. My first book, Seeing Underground: Maps, Models, and Mining Engineering in America, won the Clark Spence Award for best book in mining history from the Mining History Association, and I founded and edit the Mining & Society monograph series with the University of Nevada Press. I'm currently working on a book manuscript about the representation of mining in the Smithsonian's museums, and a digital western legal history project to categorize and share briefs and transcripts from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals from 1891-1960. After receiving degrees from UNLV and Johns Hopkins, I taught public history at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York, receiving tenure in 2013, before moving to the Interdisciplinary Humanities and Communication faculty of Arizona State University in 2015, where I mostly teach the history of engineering.

I've served many scholarly organizations and public history groups with pride, including as a member of the WHA's Public History Committee, as a trustee of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, as a board member of the Coordinating Committee for History in Arizona, and in a variety of positions for the National Council on Public History, the Mining History Association, and other organizations. In particular, my three-year stint on the Nominating Committee of the Mining History Association prepared me, I hope, for the challenging work of identifying promising leaders throughout the WHA and convincing those leaders to stand for election.

Joshua Garrett-Davis, Autry Museum of the American West

I am the Gamble Associate Curator of Western History, Popular Culture, and Firearms at the Autry Museum of the American West. I have worked at the Autry for 4 years, working on public programming and exhibitions including California Continued (on Native California and the environment), Standing Rock: Art and Solidarity; the “What Is a Western?” film series; High Country News: Chronicler of the West; and Behind Bars: Incarceration in the American West. I am leading the NEH-funded renovation of the museum’s popular culture galleries, Imagined Wests, with scholarly advisers including several WHA members.

In May, I will defend my PhD dissertation in history, “Resounding Voices: Native Americans and Sound Media, 1890-1970,” completed at Princeton University. In 2018, Western Historical Quarterly published my related article about the beginnings of the Indians for Indians radio show. I have published two books, What Is a Western? Region, Genre, Imagination (2019) and Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains (2012) as well as essays in various magazines, newspapers, and websites on history and expressive culture in the western U.S. Before studying history, I completed an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. Through writing and museum work, I am committed to a conversation between academic scholarship and a variety of public audiences and community voices.

I have attended WHA conferences since 2014 and have been grateful for and inspired by the array of history scholarship that intersects with many other academic subfields. WHA’s complexity echoes that of the past and present in this region that is so dear to me. The WHA’s commitment to public history and K-12 education is particularly important. In recent years, I have served on the conference’s Program Committee and on the prize committee for the Autry Public History Prize. I would be honored to support, through the Nominating Committee, the organization’s diverse representation in membership, subject matter, and historical practice. I look forward to participating alongside all of you in the WHA for decades to come.

Nominating Committee Position C

On your ballot you will vote for one person to fill Position C on the WHA Nominating Committee.

Electronic ballots are available to WHA members on July 1, 2020.

Katrina Jagodinsky, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Since 2008, the WHA has helped me to develop my interests in the legal strategies of marginalized Westerners over the long nineteenth century. Sharing panels, reception discussions, and coffee chats with many of you has helped me to transition from a graduate student in American Indian Studies & History at the University of Arizona to a postdoctoral fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, and finally to a tenure-track professor at University of Nebraska Lincoln, where I have been since 2012.

My first book, Legal Codes & Talking Trees: Indigenous Women's Sovereignty in Puget Sound and Sonoran Borderlands, 1854-1946 appeared in the Lamar Series in Western History with Yale University Press in 2016 and won the Coalition for Western Women's History's Armitage-Jameson prize. In the same year, my WHQ article "A Tale of Two Sisters: Family Histories from the Strait Salish Borderlands," won the Jensen-Miller prize from the WHA. Kansas Press published Beyond the Borders of the Law: Critical Legal Histories of the North American West, an anthology I co-edited with Pablo Mitchell that features my chapter citing the WHA as a vibrant hub for anti-colonial, borderlands, gender, Indigenous, and legal histories. I am excited about the inclusivity of the WHA and hope to continue this expansive trend on the nominating committee.

I have been on the WHA program committee twice, and am now on the Jensen-Miller Committee, which I will chair next year. I have served on the Coalition for Western Women's History Irene Ledesma Dissertation Prize Committee and am now chair of the Armitage-Jameson Book Prize Committee. I have also participated in panels sponsored by WHA-CARES and the Graduate Student Caucus. Outside of the WHA, I am on the American Society for Legal History's Board of Directors and have been on their program committee twice; I am chairing the American History Association's Littleton-Griswold Book Prize Committee; and I am a Fellow and former member of the Board of Governors of the Center for Great Plains Studies. At UNL, I am the Graduate Chair of History, a Fellow of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and affiliate faculty with the Institute for Ethnic Studies and Women's & Gender Studies.

On the nominating committee, I hope to promote the many affiliations WHA members have with organizations that share our interests, including the American Society for Legal History, but also the American Society for Ethnohistory and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. I also aim to support the ongoing efforts of our leadership to diversify our community, providing opportunities and platforms to scholars from a broad range of backgrounds who are working in academic and applied settings. I would also explore ways to promote professional development and mentoring among current members. Serving those who have supported me so many years would be a true pleasure, and I am grateful for this opportunity.

Flannery Burke, St. Louis University

Flannery Burke has been a member of the Western History Association since 1996, when she joined as a graduate student. She was a post-doctoral fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies in 2002-2003 and an Assistant Professor of the Department of History at California State University, Northridge from 2003-2008.  In 2008, she joined the Department of History at Saint Louis University.  She is the author of two books, From Greenwich Village to Taos (University Press of Kansas, 2008) and A Land Apart: The Southwest and the Nation in the Twentieth Century (University of Arizona Press, 2017) and has published in the Western Historical QuarterlyMontana: The Magazine of Western History, the Journal of Women’s HistoryPacific Historical ReviewJournal of the Southwest, the OAH Magazine, and Teaching History. Her current research project, entitled Back East, explores regionalism from the perspective of westerners. She has been involved in history education with K-16 instructors since 2003 and has served on the board for the Missouri Council for History Education since 2008. She is eager to contribute to the vibrant communities of history educators, cultural historians, and regionalism experts that make up vital quarters of the WHA and to further the hard work that has diversified the Association’s membership and fields of interest. Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, she has also lived in Pennsylvania, Guatemala, Wisconsin, California, New Jersey, Texas, Norway, and Missouri, but she considers the WHA her true western home.  

The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas.

The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!

Western History Association

University of Kansas 

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3650 Wescoe Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045