Current Research

Private Eyes and Ears: Covert Surveillance in American Life, 1865-1941

This project examines the covert surveillance conducted by private investigators in the United States prior to World War Two, activities that ensured that, despite the restricted apparatus of the government, being watched was an everyday experience for many Americans. By focusing on the work of individual investigators, the project will provide a framework for interpreting personal surveillance and, by examining the circulation of individuals and practices between the private sector and government that extended state surveillance beyond the scope allowed by the Constitution, offer a new perspective on the American state and its surveillance apparatus, and ideas of freedom.

Year of the Riot: Harlem, 1935

(with Professor Shane White & Professor Stephen Garton)
This project examines the riot that exploded in Harlem in 1935, the first example of a new pattern of racial violence that recurred throughout the twentieth century, one centered not on interracial attacks but directed at property and the police, and contained in black districts. Building on our award-winning Digital Harlem website, we map and reconstruct the neighborhood, and develop an innovative spatial analysis, that provides an interpretive key to understanding such violence. Locating the riot in everyday life offers a unique view of a year of economic upheaval, and an opportunity to access what changed in the 1930s, and to what extent Harlem became a slum and ghetto.

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