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James F. Brooks

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Carl and Sally Gable Distinguished Professor of History

I am an interdisciplinary scholar of the Indigenous and Colonial past, having held professorial appointments at the University of Maryland, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Berkeley, as well as fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, and Vanderbilt University’s Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. In 2002 I became director of SAR Press, and between 2005 and 2013 served as president of SAR. I recently concluded a decade of service on the Board of Directors of the Western National Parks Association, which supports research, preservation and education in 67 National Parks, including Coronado National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and Channel Islands National Park. As a Mellon Foundation Post-doctoral Mentor, I advise National Park Fellows working on Sesquicentennial Programming for Park units in the Intermountain Region.  I also serve as advisory scholar to the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History.  I maintain a Research Professor appointment at UCSB to support graduate training, and hold the position of Senior Consulting Editor of The Public Historian, the flagship journal of that discipline. There we host graduate student assistant editors from UGA under the Gable Editorial Training program. I am a Trustee of Historic Athens, and work with my graduate students to develop public interpretive programs on the region's Indigenous past and present.

Research Interests:

Brooks is the recipient of numerous national awards for scholarly excellence. His 2002 "Triple-Crown" winning (Bancroft, Parkman, and Turner Prizes) Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands focused on the traffic in women and children across the region as expressions of intercultural violence and accommodation. He has also published the edited volumes Confounding the Color Line: the Indian-Black Experience in North America (2002), Women and Gender in the American West (2004), Small Worlds: Method, Meaning, and Narrative in Microhistory (2008), Keystone Nations: Indigenous Peoples and Salmon in the North Pacific (2012), and Linking the Histories of Slavery: North America and its Borderlands (2015). His Mesa of Sorrows: A History of the Awat’ovi Massacre appeared from WW Norton in 2016, and garnered the 2017 Caughey Prize for the most distinguished book on the American West from the Western History Association, and the 2017 Ermine Wheeler-Voeglin Book Award for best book-length contribution to the field from the American Society for Ethnohistory. His latest projects include guest-edited volumes of the Journal of the Civil War Era (March 2021) and The Western Historical Quarterly (June 2021) on the theme "Unholy Union: Southern and Western History," lecturing in the NEH Landmarks of American History: Borderlands of Southern Colorado teachers' workshops, and board service on the History of Slavery at UGA "Recognition, Reconciliation, and Redress" project. He keynoted the opening of the Unsilenced: Indigenous Enslavement exhibit in Colorado in 2021, and was a featured speaker in the Smithsonian Institution's September 25th (2021) Symposium on The Other Slavery: Histories of Indian Bondage from New Spain to the Southwestern United States. He advised History Colorado and curator Chip Thomas on the permanent exhibit, reVision: Buffalo Soldiers, which opened in 2023 at the Fort Garland Museum. May 2023 saw the installation of a landmark exhibit at the Historic Athens Welcome Center, Indigenizing Athens, which his Public History students developed over the course of a year's consultation with the Muskogee and Cherokee Nations. 

Brooks embraces an expansive view of the colonial South, and is at work on a book, Picketwire, which reaches from the Irish island of Torraigh in the 17th century, to the Cherokee town of Quanasee in the early 18th century and to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in the 20th century.  In Fall 2024 UGA Press will launch his edited collection Public Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century.


PhD in History, University of California, Davis 2005.

BA in History & Anthropology, University of Colorado, 1989.

Of note:

Caughey Western History Prize 2017

Wheeler-Voegelin Ethnohistory Prize, 2003, 2017

Western National Parks Association Presidential Service Award, 2015.

Bancroft Prize 2003

Parkman Prize, 2003

Turner Prize 2003

Frederick Douglass Prize (2nd) 2003

W. Turrentine Jackson Award, 2003

Jensen-Miller Prize, 1997


Events featuring James F. Brooks

You're invited to a day of reflection, remembrance, and understanding at the Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center to view the new exhibit, Unsilenced: Indigenous Enslavement in Southern Colorado, and participate in activities throughout the day. 

  • 2 pm Exhibit Open House/Reception with artist jetsonorama
  • 4:30 pm…
101 LeConte Hall

This installment of the Department of History’s undergraduate lecture series features Dr. James F. Brooks. Brooks is an interdisciplinary scholar of the Indigenous and Colonial past. He served a decade on the Board of Directors of the Western National Parks Association, which supports research, preservation and education in 67 National Parks, including…

Lyndon House Arts Center, 211 Hoyt Street, Athens, GA 30601

Join Historic Athens Tuesday at 12 pm @ the Lyndon House, where Dr. James F. Brooks, Gable Chair at UGA will discuss “Reclaiming Athens’ Indigenous Past & Present: Consultation & Collaboration,”

Articles Featuring James F. Brooks

Professor James Brooks is featured in a new article "Athens Indigenous past and present", By Guinevere Grant,

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