Bio

Cothran_Author PhotoI am an associate professor of U.S. history in the Department of History at York University in Toronto, Ontario.

I am a cultural and military historian of  the United States after the Civil War, especially Reconstruction and the Gilded Age West. My research has focused on historical memory, historiography, and popular representations of North American Indigenous peoples.

My first book Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014) focuses on the historiography of the Modoc War (1872-1873), California’s so-called last Indian war. The book explores the complex and often overlooked relationship between how Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals  have remembered incidents of U.S.-Indian violence and the marketplaces – the systems, institutions, procedures, social relations, and arenas of trade – within which those remembrances have circulated. I argue that individuals have shaped their historical remembrances of the conflict, transforming an episode of Reconstruction Era violence and ethnic cleansing into a redemptive narrative of American innocence as they sought to negotiate these marketplaces. My aim in looking at these cultural and commercial associations is to delve into the question of how, since the nineteenth century, they have been directly related to the widespread belief that the Modoc War and other incidents of U.S.-Indian violence were ultimately justified and the tendency to view the westward expansion of the United States within the framework of inevitability.

In all of my historical writing, I aim to reach a broad audience. Read a sample of my writing.

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