David Atkinson

  • Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Education, Assistant Department Head
  • Ph.D. Boston University

Department Information

History // Faculty
Asian-American Studies // SIS // Faculty
American Studies // SIS // Affiliated Faculty

Office Information

  • Office: UNIV 025
  • Office Phone: (765) 496-2776
  • Office Fax: (765) 496-1755
  • Office Hours: Fall 2018: M 2:00-3:00 and W 10:00-11:00
  • E-mail: atkinsod@purdue.edu
  • Courses

  • Hist 305 The United States in the World
    Hist 395 Writing Global American Histories

  • Specialization

  • History of U.S. Foreign Relations, History of Imports to the United States, History of Migration and Diplomacy, International History, U.S. History

  • Originally from Leeds in the UK, I received my Ph.D. in history from Boston University in 2010. My forthcoming book is entitled The Burdens of White Supremacy: Containing Asian Labor Migration in the British Empire and the United States. White governments in Australasia, North America, and Southern Africa closed their borders to Japanese and South Asian labor migrants during the first decades of the twentieth century. Historians of these efforts typically stress similarity and collaboration, identifying transnational commonalities and connections between these movements. I instead highlight the differences that distinguished these campaigns. In fact, I argue, the most important factor unifying these otherwise distinctive drives was the constant tensions they caused. Drawing upon archival research in the Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and the United States, my book pays particular attention to the imperial and international divisiveness of Japanese and South Asian immigration restriction. Often tactless attempts to exclude Asian laborers from white communities elicited protests from British, American, Canadian, Japanese, and Indian officials—who demanded greater subtlety and restraint. Rather than ensuring the security and stability that white activists craved, these measures instead produced dangerous tensions that threatened to undermine the British Empire, American foreign relations, and the new framework of international cooperation that followed the First World War. 

    I am working on a new project that explores how Americans interacted with their growing commercial empire in the 19th century, and I am also the author of a book entitled In Theory and in Practice: Harvard's Center for International Affairs, 1958-1983. In addition to these book projects, I have also published articles on Asian migration in the Pacific Northwest, on the international resonances of American immigration restriction in the 1920s, and on the imperial and international implications of Australian immigration policy. 

    List of Publications

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