Laura Barraclough

Laura Barraclough's picture
Professor of American Studies, Chair
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Professor Laura Barraclough (PhD, University of Southern California, 2006) is an interdisciplinary scholar of land, memory, identity, and inequality in the United States. Her work integrates theories and methods from history, geography, and comparative ethnic studies.

Much of Professor Barraclough’s research has focused on the U.S. West – how colonialism, racism, sexism, and class inequality are produced and challenged through the cultural politics of land-use. She is especially interested in the tension between the rural and the urban as a constitutive dimension of this process. Her first book, Making the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege (University of Georgia Press, 2011), shows how the intentional production of rural landscapes in Los Angeles since 1900 has been a vehicle for constructing settler colonialism and whiteness. Her second book, Charros: How Mexican Cowboys are Remapping Race and American Identity (University of California Press, 2019), looks at how Mexican Americans in a range of southwestern cities have used the figure of the charro for social justice, cultural citizenship, and place-making initiatives. Dr. Barraclough’s current research examines how Native communities and communities of color have used the National Historic Trail system, a public history program established by U.S. Congress in 1978, to disrupt white-settler narratives of American history and to tell their own stories.

A second strand of Professor Barraclough’s work seeks to make the insights of radical geography and ethnic studies accessible and useful to public audiences. She is co-author, with Laura Pulido and Wendy Cheng, of A People’s Guide to Los Angeles  (University of California Press, 2012), an alternative tourist guidebook that highlights sites of racial, gender, sexual, labor, and environmental struggle in LA’s vernacular landscapes. A People’s Guide to LA received the Globe Award for Public Understanding of Geography from the Association of American Geographers and the Southern California Independent Bookseller Association Award for Non-Fiction. With Pulido and Cheng, she co-edits the People’s Guide book series with UC Press; guidebooks are available or soon forthcoming for New York City, the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, New Orleans, Orange County, Richmond, and other cities. She has published in popular outlets including the Los Angeles Times, Atlantic CityLab, and Pacific Standard, and she leads community workshops on social history and critical geography across the United States. She also sits on the editorial collective for Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography.

Professor Barraclough teaches and advises students on urban history and policy; critical human geography; mobility studies; comparative ethnic studies; critical Indigenous studies; and history and politics of the U.S. West. At Yale, she maintains affiliations with the undergraduate programs in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration; Environmental Studies; and Urban Studies. Previously, she taught at Kalamazoo College, Antioch University Los Angeles, and California State University Fullerton.