The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

Distinguished Annual Lecture

The Department of History’s Distinguished Annual Lecture celebrates the 1996 establishment of the UMass/Five College Graduate Program in History. Combining the faculty and resources of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with those of four of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges -- Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges -- this collaboration provides graduate students with an extraordinary depth of intellectual resources. Offered every academic year for more than 20 years, the program’s signature annual lecture has been delivered by some of the nation’s foremost historians, including Antoinette Burton, Ned Blackhawk, Thavolia Glymph, Eric Foner, Glenda Gilmore and many others.

2020 Distinguished Lecturer: Erika Lee

Xenophobia in America: How We Got Here and What's At Stake {This event is *NOT canceled.}

Wednesday, March 11, 6:00 pm, Integrative Learning Center N151, UMass Amherst 

The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But as award-winning author and historian Erika Lee will discuss, the U.S. is also a nation of xenophobia. An irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their “strange and foreign ways.” Americans’ anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America. Drawing from her new book, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States, Lee forces us to confront this history and explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America.

Free and open to all. Book signing to follow, with books available for purchase courtesy of Amherst Books. Free parking available. See link for details.

This event is NOT cancelled. All are encouraged to follow CDC-recommended safety measures: please stay home if sick, opt for elbow bumps in lieu of hand shakes, and make liberal use of hand sanitizer, which will be available to all on site. The space will be sanitized in advance and all will be encouraged to keep a good social distance.

Book Discussion of America for Americans POSTPONED!

Tuesday, March 24, 7:00 pm, Amherst Jones Library
43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002

Join the UMass History Department and the Amherst Jones Library for a community discussion of America for Americans. The discussion will be facilitated by a Five College expert on immigration history and is offered in conjunction with On the Same Page, a community reading program. Copies are available to borrow at Amherst Jones Library or for purchase after the event. See link for details. 

Erika Lee

Erika Lee is a Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies and Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Recently awarded an  Andrew Carnegie Fellowship and named Incoming Vice President of the Organization of American Historians, she is the author of three award-winning books as well as the recently-published America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States. Called “unflinching and powerful” by Carol Anderson (author of White Rage) and “essential reading” by Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be an Antiracist), America for Americans has received a Kirkus Star and named to best books lists by Time, USA Today, and Ms. Magazine. 


The lecture is presented by the UMass/Five College Graduate Program in History, the UMass Department of History, and Five Colleges, Inc. Cosponsored by the Bayanihan Association of America; Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts; Cambodian Community of Amherst and Friends; Chinese Association of Western Massachusetts; Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission; Five College Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program; Jones Library; Pioneer Valley Project; Pioneer Valley Workers Center; Resistance Center for Peace and Justice; Trans Asylum Seeker Support Network; and the following UMass Amherst entities: American Studies Program; Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies; Center for Justice, Law, and Societies; Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success; Civic Engagement and Service-Learning; English Department; Legal Studies Program; Social Thought and Political Economy Program; Sociology Department.