Historian Benjamin Madley to Discuss his Research on Native American Genocide in California Jan. 18 at Western

Thursday, December 22, 2016 - 3:42pm

Benjamin Madley, associate professor of History at the University of California at Los Angeles, will discuss his research on Native American genocide in the United States at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at Western Washington University’s Academic West room 204.

The event is co-sponsored by Western’s Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity, the Department of History, and the Western Libraries.  The presentation is free and open to the public; free public event parking will be available in Lot 12A – (formerly the “gravel lot,” but now paved) - on South Campus.

Between 1846 and 1873, California’s Indian population plunged from approximately 150,000 to 30,000. This is the subject of Madley’s new book, “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873,” for which he received the 2016 Heyday Books History Award from Heyday Books Publishing House.

Madley’s presentation will explore the rise of a state-sanctioned killing machine and the broad social, judicial, and political support for genocide. He will describe precursors to the genocide and explain how the Gold Rush stirred vigilante violence, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended. Besides evaluating government officials’ culpability, Madley considers why the slaughter constituted genocide and how other possible genocides within and beyond the Americas might be investigated.

Madley is a historian of Native America, the United States, and colonialism in world history. He writes about American Indians as well as colonial genocides in Africa, Australia, and Europe, often applying a transnational and comparative approach. Madley's current research explores Native American labor in the making of the western United States. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Yale University, his master’s degree at Oxford University, and a doctorate at Yale. He then served as an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth College before joining the faculty at UCLA where he is now associate professor of History and interim chair of the university’s American Indian Studies program.

This lecture is sponsored and organized by Western Libraries, the Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity, and the Department of History at Western Washington University.

For more information, contact Courtney Baxter at (360) 650-4000, or Wolpow.Institute@wwu.edu.