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I teach, research, and write about gender and women’s history, the history of capitalism, critical food studies, and modern US history. I particularly enjoy looking at sites in which capitalism and gender systems intersect. My current project uses the life of Julia Child to ask how and why food, especially gourmet food, became so central to mid-20th century American life and politics. I have also written about the emergence of supermarkets (Building a Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Government, and American Grocery Stores, 1919-1968) and have published essays on food and labor in The Oxford Handbook of Food History and in the Radical History Review. Although a committed historian, much of my work is informed by interdisciplinary collaborative endeavors. I, along with George Henderson (Geography) and Karen Ho (Anthropology), created the “Markets in Time” collaborative for studies of capitalism. More recently I have come to study food and agriculture through the AgriFood Colllaborative and the Graduate Group in Food Studies. I have particular interests in the uses of historical narratives in contemporary food politics and in robust publiclly engaged scholarship around issues of food justice.
Congratulations to Professor Allen and Barbara Isaacman! Their book "Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965-2007" has recently been honored with two major book awards: ASA's Melville Herskovits Award, and AHA's Martin A. Klein Prize.December 5th, 2014
Professor Jeani O'Brien (history and American Indian studies) has been awarded the American Indian History Lifetime Achievement Award for 2014 by the Western History Association.December 4th, 2014
Jean O'Brien has been awarded this year's Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award. Jean O'Brien joins Erika Lee (2012) as the second historian to receive Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award. Congratulations, Jeani!