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Fellowship:Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow
Term in Residence:2008-2009
Title / Appointment:Assistant Professor
Andrew W. Kahrl is an assistant professor of history at Marquette University. He specializes in the social, legal, and environmental history of beaches and coastal areas, with a focus on shoreline development, leisure marketplaces, and changing patterns of land use, ownership, and public access in the twentieth-century United States. He is the author of The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South (Harvard University Press, 2012). Articles based on his research have appeared in the Journal of American History, Journal of Urban History, Journal of Social History, and Journal of Southern History, among other publications. Andrew is the past recipient of fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and the North Caroliniana Society, and was awarded the 2007 Louis Pelzer Memorial Award from the Organization of American Historians. He received his Ph.D. in history from Indiana University in 2008.
Losing the Land: African American Beaches and the Making of Coastal Capitalism
My research focuses on the social, legal, and environmental history of beaches, coastal property, and waterfront real estate development in the twentieth-century United States. I am particularly interested in examining how coastal areas both reflect and constitute relations of power, and in tracing the relationship between human and environmental exploitation. I am currently completing work on a history of African American beaches and the rise of “coastal capitalism” in the twentieth-century American South. This book follows the histories of African American beachfront properties located on the Chesapeake, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts from the age of Jim Crow to the modern Sunbelt era, and compares blacks’ struggles to acquire and develop coastal properties for pleasure, relief, and profit, to changes in the economic and cultural value of beaches and beachfront property from the turn-of-the-twentieth century to the present. It examines the cultural and structural forces that contributed to the meteoric rise of coastal property values and development, the privatization of America’s shores, the degradation of coastal ecologies, and the erosion of black-owned coastal property over the past quarter-century, and unpacks the public policies and legal strategies that constitute modern coastal capitalism.