University of Minnesota
American Studies

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Fall 2015

Scott Hall 316

Office Hours: Tuesday 10am to 3pm or by appointment

(David Chang portrait)

David A Chang

Department of History 1143 HellerH 271 19th Ave S


I am a historian of indigenous people, colonialism, borders and migration in Hawai?i and the American West, focusing especially on the histories of American Indian and Native Hawaiian people. My second book, The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration will be published in May 2016 by the University of Minnesota Press. What if we were to understand indigenous people as the active agents of global exploration, rather than the passive objects of that exploration? What if, instead of conceiving of global exploration as an activity just of European men such as Columbus or Cook or Magellan, we thought of it as an activity of the people they “discovered”? What could such a new perspective on the project of global exploration reveal to us about the meaning of geographical understanding and its place in struggles over power in the context of colonialism? The World and All the Things Upon It addresses the questions above by tracing how Kanaka Maoli (meaning indigenous Hawaiian people) in the nineteenth century explored the outside world, generated their own understandings of it, and placed themselves strategically in the discursive constructions of global geography they created. This book looks at travel, spirituality, print culture, sexuality, gender, labor, education, and race to shed light on how constructions of global geography became a site through which Hawaiians as well as their would-be colonizers understood and contested imperialism, colonialism, and nationalism. My first book, The Color of the Land, argues for the central place of struggles over the ownership of Native American lands in the history of racial and national construction by Creeks, African Americans, and whites in the Creek Nation and eastern Oklahoma. The Color of the Land was awarded the 2010 Theodore Saloutos Prize for best book in agricultural history from the Agricultural History Society and was granted Honorable Mention in the competition for the American Studies Association's 2011 Lora Romero First Book Prize.


  • American Indian history
  • Native Hawaiian history
  • U.S. West
  • race and nationalism
  • United States, Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century History
  • Comparative Indigenous History
  • United States Colonialism

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2002.


  • The World and All the Things upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016)
  • “'Made to Be Like the Indian Peoples’: Recognizing Likeness between Native Hawaiians and American Indians, 1832-1923" American Quarterly (Fall 2015).
  • “Borderlands in a World at Sea: Concow Indians, Native Hawaiians, and South Chinese in Indigenous, Global, and National Space, 1860s-1880s,“ Journal of American History 98 (September 2011): 384-403.
  • The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Land Ownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
  • "Enclosures of Land and Sovereignty: The Allotment of American Indian Lands.," Radical History Review 109 (2010).
  • “An Equal Interest in the Soil: Creek Small-Scale Farming and the Work of Nationhood, 1866-1889,“ American Indian Quarterly 33:1 (2008) 98-130
  • “Where Will the Nation be at Home?: Race, Nationalisms and Emigration Movements in the Creek Nation,“ Tiya Miles and Sharon P. Holland, eds., Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 100-120.
  • ““˜Primitive Christianity’ and “˜Modern Socialism’: The Agrarian Socialism of Thomas W. Woodrow,“ Thomas Summerhill, ed., Transatlantic Rebels: Agrarian Radicalism in Transatlantic Perspective (East Lansing, Michigan State University Press, 2004).

Research Activities

  • In two current research projects, I am tracing the transnational interplay of nationalism and cosmopolitanism in the nineteenth century—specifically in Native American tribal nations in United States, Italy, China, Hawaiʻi. One article manuscript (likely a foundation for my next book project) follows the way Lopaka Wilikoki (Robert Wilcox), a nineteenth-century Hawaiian nationalist studying in Italy, grafted Garibaldian ideas onto existing Hawaiian notions of sovereignty, and the way that Chinese anti-Manchu nationalism and Hawaiian resistance to American colonialism influenced each other in ways that shaped the end of imperial China and today’s Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Another completed article manuscript concerns historical commemoration of the American South and the American West in Oklahoma by American Indian, black, and white people, and how they correspond to differing nationalisms for these different groups. These articles tie my interest in nationalism to my commitment to geographically expansive studies and research in indigenous studies.

Professional Activities

  • Secretary: Native American and Indigenous Studies Association , June 2012 - June 2015
  • Program Committee, American Historical Association Meeting, 2016.
  • Committee on Minority Historians, American Historical Association, 2013-2016.
  • Editorial board, Amerasia
  • Editorial board, Journal of Civil and Human Rights


  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, January 2014 - December 2014
  • Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship, 2012 - 2014
  • Faculty Residential Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, September 2012 - December 2012
  • Grant-in-Aid of Research, University of Minnesota, 2003 - 2005

Courses Taught

  • Hist 1000/3000 - Visions of the Past: Twin Cities History
  • Hist 1302W - Global America
  • Hist 3821 - The United States in the 20th Century to 1945
  • Hist/AmIn 3871 - American Indian History to 1830
  • Hist 5910/Amst 5920 - Race, Colonialism, and the Politics of US History
  • Hist 5910/Hist 8910 - Engendering Race in American History
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