Dr Sarah Miller-Davenport
B.A. (Oberlin College), Ph.D. (Chicago.)
Lecturer in 20th Century US History
U.S. 20th century history; U.S. foreign relations; cultural history
+44 (0)114 22 22599 | Jessop West 3.02
Semester One 2018/19 Office Hours: Mondays 14:00-15:00 and Wednesdays 12:00-13:00
Sarah Miller-Davenport joined the department in 2014. She studied history at Oberlin College, worked at an international foundation in New York City for a few years, and then went on to receive her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2014.
Sarah's approach to research and teaching seeks to broaden the study of U.S. history by exploring the intersections of global developments and domestic political, social, and cultural change. Her dissertation examined the ways in which Hawai‘i statehood in 1959 represented a transformational moment in how Americans defined their nation’s role in the world, and how they negotiated the problem of social difference at home—a shift that heralded the emergence of multiculturalism after the end of civil rights reform. Her teaching interests reflect a broader commitment to expanding the geographical and conceptual scope of U.S. history. She aims to help students to see the U.S. as one nation within a larger interdependent world system that at once defies the category of the nation-state and is defined by it.
Sarah has received funding for her research from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the George C. Marshall Foundation, and the Eisenhower Foundation, among others. She is also the recipient of the Bernath Article Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for her Journal of American History article on American evangelical missionaries in Japan and the Philippines.
American Historical Association, Member
Organization of American Historians, Member
Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, Member
Sarah Miller-Davenport's research focuses on how Americans conceptualized their nation's role in the world after World War II, and how the advent of the United States as a global superpower transformed domestic culture, politics, and social relations. Her current book manuscript, Gateway State: Hawai‘i in American Culture, 1945-1978 (forthcoming from Princeton in 2019), explores the impact and meaning of Hawai‘i statehood in 1959 and its complicated and contradictory relationship to the global movement for decolonization, which in turn shaped the emergence of multiculturalism in American society. It analyzes how and why Hawai‘i became a site for both managing human difference and for projecting U.S. global power, twinned projects that came together in Hawai‘i and rippled outward. How did Hawai‘i go from a racially problematic overseas territory to the symbol of John F. Kennedy’s ‘New Frontier,’ which imagined the U.S. as a nation unshackled from old ideas of race, ethnicity, or territoriality? By tracing the political struggles over statehood and its cultural aftermath, Sarah's project shows how this conception of the nation was both popularised and contested in American society, creating new racial formations in the process.
Sarah’s next project explores the reinvention of New York as a ‘global city’ in the wake of its fiscal crisis in the 1970s. It aims help to provincialize globalization by focusing on New Yorkers as both producers and subjects of the worldwide economic changes of the late-20th century. It will illuminate the intersections of the local and global by examining a range of actors, from municipal officials to museums to hospitality associations, who promoted world integration as a solution to city problems—and whose efforts to enrich New York via foreign capital had profound consequences for its mostly working class and low-income residents.
Other research has examined the role of American missionaries in Asia in the post-WWII revival of evangelicalism at home and the impact of the Peace Corps on multicultural education in the United States.
Sarah is involved in a number of research collaborations. As co-coordinator of the Cold War Cultures Network, she helps to engage both students and academic staff from around the world in forging new approaches to the study of the Cold War. She is also co-principal investigator of ‘Imperial Afterlives: The Crisis of Nation and Citizen in Historical Perspective’. This the White Rose Collaboration project investigates the contingency and volatility of the nation-state system and the impact of alternative political orders—federations, commonwealths, transnational regimes, national incorporation— that emerged from decolonization and have informed the struggles of the post-imperial age.
I am happy to supervise students working on 20th century U.S. politics, culture, and foreign relations.
Gateway State: Hawai‘i in American Culture, 1945-1978 (forthcoming 2019, Princeton)
'"Their Blood Shall Not be Shed in Vain": Evangelical Missionaries and the Search for God and Country in Post-World War II Asia,' The Journal of American History, March 2013 (winner of the Bernath Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations).
'A "Montage of Minorities": Hawai'i Tourism and the Commodification of Racial Tolerance, 1959-1978' (forthcoming from The Historical Journal).
“‘Their Blood Shall Not be Shed in Vain’: Evangelical Missionaries and the Search for God and Country in Post-World War II Asia,” JAH Podcast, April 2013.
In The Media
Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching