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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Kevin Waite

Assistant Professor (Modern American History) in the Department of History

(email at

Kevin Waite is a political historian of the 19th century United States with a focus on slavery, imperialism, and the American West. His first book (under contract with UNC Press) is a study of slaveholding expansion in California and the Far Southwest. It explores how American Southerners extended their labour order and political vision across the continent, and in the process, triggered a series of conflicts that culminated in the Civil War. His next project follows the thousands of former Confederates who fled the country after the collapse of their rebellion in 1865. They dispersed across the globe -- to places like Brazil, Mexico, Fiji, and Egypt -- and attempted to resurrect systems of slavery and servitude in the so-called age of emancipation. His scholarly articles and book chapters have covered a wide range of subjects: manliness in Napoleonic-era English public schools; the political struggle over America’s first transcontinental railroad; the evolving myth of George Armstrong Custer in Hollywood film; the Civil War in Indian Territory; and Reconstruction in the trans-Mississippi West.

Kevin’s short-form writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, the History News Network, the Conversation, TIME, and the Washington Post, among others. He has also spoken about his research on television and radio, including interviews with BBC Radio 3, National Public Radio in the U.S., CBS Los Angeles, and as a talking head for a six-part TV documentary on the history of the railroad. For links to his articles, media appearances, and c.v., click here.

Kevin received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, and he also holds degrees from the University of Cambridge (MPhil, Modern European History, 2011) and Williams College (BA, History, English, 2009).

PhD supervision

Kevin welcomes inquiries from prospective students working on a broad range of topics in U.S. history, especially those interested in the American Civil War era, the history of slavery and emancipation, and the American West.

Research Groups

Department of History

Research Projects

Department of History

Teaching Areas

  • HIST 1611 The Rise and Fall of American Slavery
  • HIST 2922 Conversations with History: Making America's Empire, 1776-1914
  • HIST 30N3 Special Subject: The American Civil War and Reconstruction


Chapter in book

  • Waite, Kevin (Forthcoming). 'Custer's Last Stands: Remaking an American Frontier Legend in Hollywood Film'. In Writing History with Lightning: Representations of Nineteenth Century America on Film. Inscoe, J. & Hulbert, M., eds. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
  • Waite, Kevin (Forthcoming). 'Reconstruction and the American West'. In The Oxford Handbook on Reconstruction. Slap, Andrew L., ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Waite, Kevin (Forthcoming). 'War in Indian Country'. In The Cambridge History of the American Civil War. Sheehan-Dean, A., ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1.

Journal Article

  • Waite, Kevin (2016). 'Jefferson Davis and Proslavery Visions of Empire in the Far West'. Journal of the Civil War Era 6(4): 536-565.
  • Waite, Kevin (2014). Beating Napoleon at Eton: Violence, Sport and Manliness in England's Public Schools, 1783-1815. Cultural and Social History 11(3): 407-424.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Waite, Kevin (2018). 'Early California lawmakers also preached #resistance -- against immigration'. Los Angeles Times
  • Waite, Kevin (2018). 'Kanye West's rants on slavery align alarmingly well with popular views of American history'. Los Angeles Times
  • Waite, Kevin (2018). 'The missing statues that expose the truth about Confederate monuments'. Washington Post
  • Waite, Kevin (2017). 'Robert E. Lee WAS a man of honor. That's the problem'. Washington Post
  • Waite, Kevin (2017). 'The largest Confederate monument in American can't be taken down'. Washington Post
  • Waite, Kevin (2017). 'The struggle over slavery was not confined to the South, L.A. has a Confederate memorial problem too'. Los Angeles Times