Making Citizens: Racialization, Settler Colonialism, and the Logics of Social Welfare, 1865-1924


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


American Studies and Ethnicity


In the aftermath of emancipation and as the supposed close of the frontier loomed, the United States grappled with fundamental challenges to its sociopolitical and territorial boundaries. In this contested context, industrial boarding schools emerged as a critical technology of racial and colonial governance. This project examines citizenship through a comparative analysis of the Hampton Institute in Virginia and the Haskell Institute in Kansas, two residential boarding schools for Black and Native youth. Discursive and rhetorical analysis of institutional records reveals how school authorities wielded character building as a pedagogy that aimed to cultivate self-governing subjects. This project contends that this individualizing model of education for citizenship leveraged discourses of inclusion to feed a new regime of industrial capitalism. It also concludes that late nineteenth-century industrial boarding schools created new possibilities for national belonging and, simultaneously, reinscribed the occupation of indigenous territories and the dehumanization of Black and Native subjects.