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Dr Emma Teitelman

Dr Emma Teitelman

Mellon Research Fellow in American History


I specialize in the history of the United States in the nineteenth century. My research interests include, broadly, the history of capitalism, the history and theory of the state, political economy during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, and labor history with a particular focus on social reproduction. I received my BA in History from Wesleyan University and my MA and PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania. My research has been supported by a number of institutions, including the Huntington Library, the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, and the Quinn Foundation, among others. 

My current project examines processes of state and capitalist development in the post-Civil War South and West, where U.S. authorities sought to govern Native peoples and the formerly enslaved by reorganizing relations of labor, land, and property. The project explores these political struggles to shape the direction of postbellum social change, focusing, for example, on conflicts over forms of property in timber and minerals. It describes how these struggles brought federal authorities and specific cohorts of northern capitalists into dynamic new relationships with one another, and how, in the process, the postbellum state itself became a terrain of capitalist class composition on a new scale. By uncovering these relationships, this project sheds light on concrete social forces that yoked together Reconstruction, western imperialism, and industrial capitalism in the last third of the nineteenth century. In doing so, it explains how one structure of political economy prevailed over others, making it more difficult for freed, Native, and other dispossessed peoples to maintain alternative forms of life.

Subject groups/Research projects

American History:

Key Publications

"The Properties of Capitalism: Industrial Enclosures in the South and West After the American Civil War," Journal of American History (forthcoming March 2020)

“Without Reserves,” in Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentring Oppression, ed. Tithi Bhattacharya (University of Chicago Press / Pluto Press, 2017). (with Salar Mohandesi)