Kathleen Belew is a historian, author, and teacher.
She specializes in the history of the present. She spent ten years researching and writing her first book, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (Harvard, 2018, paperback 2019). In it, she uses previously classified FBI documents and vivid personal testimonies to explore how white power activists created a social movement through a common story about betrayal by the government, war, and its weapons, uniforms, and technologies. By uniting Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, skinhead, and other groups, the movement mobilized and carried out escalating acts of violence that reached a crescendo in the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City. This movement was never adequately confronted, and remains a presence in American life.
Belew has spoken about Bring the War Home in a wide variety of places, including The Rachel Maddow Show, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, AC 360 with Anderson Cooper, Frontline, Fresh Air, and All Things Considered. Her work has featured prominently in documentaries such as Homegrown Hate: The War Among Us (ABC) and Documenting Hate: New American Nazis (Frontline).
This research has received the support of the Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Jacob K. Javits Foundation. Belew earned her BA in the Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington, where she was named Dean’s Medalist in the Humanities. She earned a doctorate in American Studies from Yale University. Belew has held postdoctoral fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (2019-20), Northwestern University, and Rutgers University. Her award-winning teaching centers on the broad themes of history of the present, conservatism, race, gender, violence, identity, and the meaning of war.
- When White Extremism Seeps into the Mainstream npr.org, January 2021
- Domestic Extremism Expert on Potential Threats to Presidential Inauguration npr.org, January 2021
- What Groups Were Involved in Pro-Trump Insurrection? npr.org, January 2021
- Exposing the ‘disguise’: UChicago historian Kathleen Belew spotlights the rising white power movement Chicago Tribune, October 2020
- C-SPAN Q&A with Kathleen Belew and Jillian Melchoir C-Span.org, October 2020
- The Plot Against Whitmer Won’t be the Last White Supremacist Threat Washington Post, October 2020