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    Tina A. Irvine, PhD

    is an assistant professor of history at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.


    She is a cultural and intellectual historian of the modern United States with particular interests in the politics of race, science, and power in the long twentieth century.


    Her first book, Americanizing Appalachia: Mountain Reform and the Pursuit of a White American Identity, 1890-1933, explores these and other issues, and is forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press.


    Photo by Haley Sinn


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    Americanizing Appalachia


    Mountain Reform and the Pursuit of a White American Identity, 1890-1933


    This (forthcoming) book explores a variety of social engineering projects targeted at “Americanizing” poor white Appalachians at the turn of the 20th century. It analyzes mountain reform as an overlooked component of that period's Americanization movement, and as a response to concerns about a weakened color line in the Jim Crow South and increasingly immigrant-heavy North. It also explores the entanglement of biology and sociology in the early twentieth century to explain how and why early 20th-century educators, public health officials, social reformers, white supremacists, and eugenicists came to see the reform of Appalachian mountaineers as a critical ballast in preserving the nation’s racial hierarchy– and its democracy.


    Amercanizing Appalachia is based on my dissertation, which was a finalist for the 2020 C. Vann Woodward Award and winner of that year's Melvin E. Bradford and Theodore C. Delaney Dissertation Prize. Revisions to the work were supported in 2022-2023 through a year-long fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS.)


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    From Eugenics to Genomics

     The Politics of Race, Science, and Power in the Long Twentieth Century


    I am also at work on a second manuscript, tentatively titled From Eugenics to Genomics: The Politics of Race, Science, and Power in the Long Twentieth Century, which historicizes contemporary scientific fields like genetics and sociogenomics.


    Taking the story of Appalachian biological and social engineering forward and expanding that inquiry to the rest of the country, this book considers how those ideas played out from the 1920s to the present. With special attention to the way the law, racism, classism, and ableism have been used to advance or passively allow such efforts, it reveals how genetics, genomics, bioengineering, and their antecedents have shaped modern American ideas about race, reproduction, ability and disability, and human worth.


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    • "Reconciling Democracy and Eugenics: Alice Lloyd and the Rehabilitation of the Kentucky Mountaineer," Journal of Southern History 89, no 4 (2023): 659-698.




    Photo Credit: Special Collections Research Center, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington, KY.


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    Book Reviews

    Review of Joseph O. Jewell, White Man’s Work: Race and Middle-Class Mobility into the Progressive Era. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2023), in Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, forthcoming


    Review of Jessica Barbata Jackson, Dixie's Italians: Sicilians, Race, and Citizenship in the Jim Crow Gulf South, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2020) in Journal of Southern History, Vol. 87, No. 2,p. 353-354.



    Review of Nancy Isenberg, White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America, (New York: VikingPress, 2016), in Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol.116, Nos. 3 & 4. (Summer/ Autumn 2018), 509-511.



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