Research Interests: Histories of US Empire/US in the World, History of the Philippines, US urban history/studies, History of US urban racial formation
Karen Miller is Professor of History at LaGuardia Community College and the CUNY Graduate Center, where she teaches in the Master’s in Liberal Studies Program. She also serves as Deputy Executive Officer of the MALS program. Her current work examines the US in the Philippines between 1902 and 1965. She is interested in programs first sponsored by the American colonial state, and then taken up by the Philippine Republic, that moved Christian Filipinos into non-Christian areas.
The state promised “land for the landless,” to move families from “overpopulated” regions onto empty frontiers, and to develop southern islands like Mindanao and Sulu into a “breadbasket” for the nation. It also used resettlement as a tool for undermining insurgencies against tenancy, debt, and plantation labor, for quelling non-Christians’ unwillingness to farm or be governed in a manner congruent with state dictates, and for pushing peasants away from subsistence agriculture and into commodity production linked to global marketplaces. Philippine frontier landscapes have shifted dramatically as a consequence of these state-sponsored, as well as voluntaristic migrations, mostly to Mindanao and Sulu, but also to parts of Mindoro and the Corilleras, as well as other formerly majority non-Christian spaces in the archipelago.
Dr. Miller’s first book, Managing Inequality: Northern Racial in Interwar Detroit (New York University Press, 2014) argues that white northern leaders increasingly embraced egalitarian ideas about racial difference at the same time that they helped implement and maintain social and political practices that promoted racial inequality. She shows that northern segregation and egalitarian language were intertwined. This project combined a study of racial formation and urban policy with a consideration of black activism. As African Americans made clearer and more strident claims about their right to full equality, white liberal leaders used the discourse of northern racial liberalism to both respond to and manage those demands.
Dr. Miller’s articles and reviews have appeared in the Journal of American History, The Middle West Review, The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Michigan Feminist Studies, and Against the Current. She also published a book chapter in Groundwork: Local Black Freedom Struggles in America. Dr. Miller has been a faculty fellow at a number of centers at the CUNY Graduate Center, including the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, the Center for Humanities, the Committee for the Study of Religion, and the Committee on Globalization and Social Change. She was also a visiting scholar at the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Michigan. In 2015, she was awarded a Chancellor’s Research Fellowship from CUNY.