tags: Top Young Historians
Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara and Co-Director of Indigenous Studies Minor
Area of Research: U.S. History, Borderlands, Native American History
Education: Ph.D. in History, University of Helsinki, 2001
Major Publications: Hämäläinen is the author of The Comanche Empire, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Paperback in 2009. Awarded the Recognition of Excellence, Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University. Winner of Bancroft Prize, Merle Curti Award, Caughey Western History Association Prize, Norris and Carol Hundley Award, William P. Clements Prize, Great Plains Distinguished Book Award, Philosophical Society of Texas Award of Merit, and Kate Broocks Bates Award. ForeWord Magazine's History Book of the Year. An alternate selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, Book-of-the-Month Club 2, History Book Club, and Military Book Club. El imperio comanche. Translation of The Comanche Empire by Ricardo García. Peninsula Press, forthcoming 2010. He is currently working on The Shapes of Power: Frontiers, Borderlands, Middle Grounds, and Empires of North America, 1600-1900. Under contract with Yale University Press.
Hämäläinen is the editor of When Disease Makes History: Epidemics and Great Historical Turnings Points, ed. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press,2006, and currently working on Major Problems in North American Borderlands History, ed. with Benjamin H. Johnson. Under contract with Houghton Mifflin Company.
Hämäläinen is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: "Into the Mainstream: The Rise of a New Texas Indian History," in Beyond Texas through Time: Evolving Interpretations, ed. Walter Buenger and Arnoldo DeLeon. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, forthcoming; "The Politics of Grass: European Expansion, Ecological Change, and Indigenous Power in the Southwest Borderlands," William and Mary Quarterly 67 (April 2010), 173-208. Reprinted in Major Problems in North American Borderlands History, ed. Pekka Hämäläinen and Benjamin H. Johnson. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, forthcoming; "Pathogens, Peoples, and the Paths of History," in When Disease Makes History: Epidemics and Great Historical Turnings Points, 1-16, ed. Pekka Hämäläinen. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 2006; "The Rise and Fall of Plains Indian Horse Cultures," Journal of American History 90 (Dec. 2003), 833- 862. Winner of Arrell Morgan Gibson Award. Reprinted in American Encounters: Natives and Newcomers from European Contact to Indian Removal, 1500-1850, 361-92, ed. Peter C. Mancall and James H. Merrell. New York: Routledge, 2006; and The American Indian: Past and Present, 6th ed., 53-77, ed. Roger L. Nichols. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008; "The First Phase of Destruction: Killing the Southern Plains Buffalo, 1790-1840," Great Plains Quarterly 21 (Spring 2001), 101-114; "Beyond the Ideology of Victimization: New Trends in the Study of Native American-Euroamerican Relations," Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 26 (Oct. 2001), 45-49; "Of Lethal Places and Lethal Essays," with John R. Wunder, American Historical Review 104 (Oct. 1999), 1229-1234; The Western Comanche Trade Center: Rethinking the Plains Indian Trade System," Western Historical Quarterly 29 (Winter 1998), 485-513. Winner of Bert M. Fireman Prize. Reprinted in Major Problems in American Indian History, 238-257, ed. Albert Hurtado and Peter Iverson. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001; "Hevosen leviäminen ja sen vaikutukset Pohjois-Amerikan tasangoilla sekä Länsi-Afrikan savanneilla" [The Spread and Influence of the Horse on the North American Great Plains and the Western African Savanna], with Pekka Masonen, Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 21 (1996), 31-41.
Awards: Hämäläinen is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, 2010-2012 (declined);
Institut d'Etudes Avancées in Nantes, 2010-2011;
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, 2009-2010;
Turku Institute for Advanced Study, University of Turku, 2009-12 (declined);
Recognition of Excellence, Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University, 2009;
Bancroft Prize in American History, the Trustees of Columbia University, 2009;
Merle Curti Award for the best book on social and/or intellectual history, the Organization of American Historians, 2009;
Caughey Western History Association Prize for the most distinguished book on the history of the American West, the Western History Association, 2009;
Norris and Carol Hundley Award for the most distinguished book on any historical subject, the American Historical Association Pacific Branch, 2009;
The William P. Clements Prize for the best non-fiction book on Southwestern America, the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, 2008;
Great Plains Distinguished Book Award, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Center for Great Plains Studies, 2009;
Award of Merit for the best fiction or non-fiction book on Texas, the Philosophical Society of Texas, 2009;
Kate Broocks Bates Award for the best book on Texas history prior to 1900, the Texas State Historical Association, 2008;
History Book of the Year, ForeWord Magazine, 2009;
Silver Medal, Independent Publisher Book Awards in History, 2009;
Honorable Mention, PROSE Award in U.S. History and Biography/Autobiography, Association of American Publishers, 2009;
Finalist for Carr P. Collins Award for the best book of non-fiction, the Texas Institute of Letters, 2009;
Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, 2009;
Arrell Morgan Gibson Award for the best essay on Native American history, the Western History Association, 2004;
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, 2003-2005;
Most Distinguished Dissertation of the Year (all disciplines), the University of Helsinki, 2002;
William P. Clements Center in Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, 2001-2002;
Bert M. Fireman Prize for the best student essay published in the Western Historical Quarterly, the Western History Association, 1999;
Fulbright Fellowship, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1995-1996.
Formerly Assistant Professor of History, Texas A&M University, 2002-2004.
This happened many times in 2006 and 2007:
It is 2 AM, and I'm suddenly wide awake. I've had less than an hour of sleep, but the adrenaline jolt has eliminated any chance of getting more. I know the cause of my unwelcome alertness: panic. The writing is too slow, the tenure deadline is too soon, my kids are growing up too fast, and my insomnia is worse than ever. I suppress the urge to howl in frustration, and instead get dressed and leave the house. I walk the half-mile to the office, convinced that the night is ruined-as is the following day, which will find me exhausted and unable to think or write. I cling to the idea that if I get down just one half-decent sentence tonight, surely it must be better than nothing.
I ended up staying in the office for twenty hours, writing more than I had managed in weeks. I couldn't count on this pattern, but it happened often enough for me to finish the book and become a professional historian. I found writing my first book-a book that I knew would be controversial-a dreadful and debilitating task, and I don't think I would have made it without those moments when expectations and self-criticism were temporarily suspended. Most of the thinking and conceptualizing happened while I was busy with other things. They still do. I sleep better these nights, but getting anything worthwhile on paper still requires mind tricks; insights only come when I'm preoccupied with things-running, hanging out with the kids, cleaning the house-that seemingly have nothing to do with the job.
This, of course, is commonplace. Anyone who has tried to write on a sustained basis knows the workings of the subconscious. And they know that for mind tricks to work, they must catch one by surprise; they must be-or at least feel-thoroughly accidental. One can't force them, or even be aware of them. One can only appreciate them in hindsight.
Like almost all my friends in academia, I wrote my first book slightly scared and enormously annoyed, thinking that there was little in the way of method to my madness. I'm glad that I didn't realize at the time that I did have a method, all along.
By Pekka Hämäläinen
The Comanches, then, were an imperial power with a difference: their aim was not to conquer and colonize, but to coexist, control, and exploit. Whereas more traditional imperial powers ruled by making things rigid and predictable, Comanches ruled by keeping them fluid and malleable. This informal, almost ambiguous nature of Comanches' politics not only makes their empire difficult to define; it sometimes makes it difficult to see. New Mexico and Texas existed side by side with Comanchería throughout the colonial era, and though often suffering under Comanche pressure, the twin colonies endured, allowing Spain to claim sweeping imperial command over the Southwest. Yet when examined closely, Spain's uncompromised imperial presence in the Southwest becomes a fiction that existed only in Spanish minds and on European maps, for Comanches controlled a large portion of those material things that could be controlled in New Mexico and Texas. The idea of land as a form of private, revenue-producing property was absent in Comanche culture, and livestock and slaves in a sense took the place of landed private property. This basic observation has enormous repercussions on how we should see the relationship between the Comanches and colonists. When Comanches subjected Texas and New Mexico to systematic raiding of horses, mules, and captives, draining wide sectors of those productive resources, they in effect turned the colonies into imperial possessions. That Spanish Texas and New Mexico remained unconquered by Comanches is not a historical fact; it is a matter of perspective. -- Pekka Hamalainen in "The Comanche Empire" pp. 4-5.
About Pekka Hämäläinen
comments powered by Disqus
- Barbara and Karen Fields discuss their new book, "Racecraft"
- What’s Antifa all about? Mark Bray explains.
- Historian Keisha N. Blain tells the story of black nationalist women in her new book
- War or Peace for North Korea: A call for Action by Historians for Peace and Democracy
- George Will goes after liberal historian David Goldfield