Nadeen M. Thomas

BA, University of Pennsylvania. MSEd, Hunter College, CUNY. PhD, CUNY Graduate Center. Research interests include immigration, race, ethnicity, education systems, and nationalism in the United States and Europe. Also interested in the relationship between the built environment and social organization and how the layout of urban areas creates spaces of belonging and nonbelonging. Recently presented research on the French antiveiling laws and the reinterpretation of public and private spaces, the Parisian public transportation system and its role in structuring geographic and social mobility, and the Parisian botanical gardens as an agent and symbol of national identity. SLC, 2015–

Previous Courses

MA Women’s History

Diversity and Equity in Education: Issues of Gender, Race, and Class

Graduate Seminar—Year

The education system is a central institution in the socialization of young people and the maintenance of the modern nation-state. Schools support meritocratic models of society by providing opportunities for social mobility. Paradoxically, schools also reproduce gender, racial, and class inequality. In this course, we will examine the roles that schools play in the transmission of culture, formation of identity, and reproduction of social structures. Paying special attention to gender and its intersection with other social categories, we will look at practices and policies that shape students’ performance as they strive for competence, achievement, and acceptance. We will also analyze the larger political and economic contexts that shape both schools and the communities in which they are situated.


History Colloquium

Graduate Seminar—Year

Students in this course undertake independent projects in close consultation with the instructor. The projects range widely, from primary research and explorations of historiography to fieldwork and internships at agencies engaged in advocacy, policymaking, public history, or other initiatives of interest to women’s historians. While students pursue individual goals and meet one-on-one with the instructor, the whole class convenes several times each term for dinner, presentations on independent projects, and discussion of common concerns.


The Promise of the City: Urbanism and Black America


In 1992, Los Angeles erupted in violence. African Americans took to the streets to protest the verdict in the Rodney King trial and to express their frustration over a system they believed had failed them. Twenty-three years later, African Americans and their allies took to the streets once more—this time in Baltimore—to protest police violence against Freddie Gray and the larger issues of systemic discrimination, political corruption, and, as one activist explained, “the heartbreak of broken promises.” This year long seminar will explore urbanism with a focus on African American communities. Of central concern is how city life is shaped by race, class, and gender. From the Great Migration and to current times, this course asks how urban life creates both opportunities and obstacles for African American men, women, and children. Drawing from history, sociology, and anthropology, we will look at the ways cities have structured the lives of African Americans and how African Americans and other minority groups have left their mark—economically, politically, and culturally—on American cities. In the fall semester, we will concentrate on structural features such as the built environment, housing, transportation, political participation and representation, economic development, segregation, policing and crime, social services, and the education system. In the spring semester we will turn our attention to cultural production, identity, language, sexuality, religion, leisure, the arts, and consumerism. This is a graduate seminar with limited space for advanced undergraduates with permission from the instructor.



#BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName: Centering Black Women in the Fight for Racial Justice

Intermediate/Advanced, Small seminar—Year

Three black women—Alica Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors—created #BlackLivesMatter (#BLM) in 2012 to protest George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Three years later, #BLM became a rallying cry against police brutality across the country, particularly in Ferguson, Staten Island, and Baltimore. The African American Policy Forum created #SayHerName in 2014 to call attention to black women who have been killed by the police. Once dismissed as “hashtag activism,” #BLM has now become a global movement, as people have taken to the streets this summer not only to protest specific incidents of police brutality, such as the killing of George Floyd, but also to call for the abolition of the police state itself. Despite the popularity of #BLM, black women such as Breonna Taylor, who suffer state and gendered violence, have been downplayed or ignored in most media reports on police violence. This course will examine the historical contexts of both movements, focusing on the experiences of black women as activists and as targets of racial, gendered, and state violence. A core premise of the course is that we gain a much richer understanding of social systems and their problems by paying attention to society’s most vulnerable actors. Through classic and contemporary texts, we will also explore connections among #BLM, #SayHerName, and other social movements for racial justice in housing, health care, education, food, and the environment.