Dr Robert Lee
I’m an historian of the United States focused on Indigenous dispossession and US state formation in the nineteenth century American West. I have a PhD in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an MA in American Studies from the Universität Heidelberg, and a BA in History and Economics from Columbia University. I was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows before I came to Cambridge.
My research focuses on North American colonization, mostly in the nineteenth century. I’m currently writing a history of US expansion by Indian treaty, using an approach that combines archival digging with spatial analysis in GIS. The book focuses on an important but obscure institution—the St. Louis Superintendency—whose administration of the Indian treaty line influenced a string of well-known events, from the Lewis and Clark expedition to Bleeding Kansas. By restoring those connections, the project illuminates how dispossession by treaty shaped the development of the United States. An article growing out of this study, “Accounting for Conquest: The Price of the Louisiana Purchase of Indian Country,” appeared in The Journal of American History, and received awards from the Organization of American Historians, the Western History Association, and the Society for History in the Federal Government. That piece also forms the first in a series of articles I’m working on that use GIS to revisit longstanding questions about the territorial and demographic history of the American West. The latest of these projects, “Land-Grab Universities,” detailed how Indigenous land funded land-grant colleges across the United States. Interactive maps and data from that project can be explored at landgrabu.org.
I welcome inquiries from prospective postgraduate students interested in the colonization of North America, the American West, environmental history, Indigenous history, and digital humanities.
I teach Paper 22 (American History to 1865), supervise Part II dissertations on early American and nineteenth century topics, and teach and supervise for the MPhil in American History.
Tags & Themes
Faculty of History
Cambridge CB3 9EF