Katherine Benton-Cohen is professor of history at Georgetown University. She has also taught at Louisiana State University and in Cornell University’s Washington DC program. She is a graduate of Tempe High, Princeton University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. An Arizona native, her interests include the history of the American West, the history of race and immigration and the history of women in the United States. Her most recent book Inventing the Immigration Problem: The Dillingham Commission and Its Legacy (2018), examines the long-lasting policy impact of the largest study of immigrants in American history, from 1907 to 1911. She is also the author of Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (2009), a history of race that was named by Tucson Weekly as one of fifty essential books about Arizona. That book was the basis for her work as historical advisor for the much-acclaimed 2018 documentary feature film, Bisbee ’17 (dir. Robert Greene), which won the American Historical Association’s John O’Connor Prize for Best Documentary Film. She has received grants and fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Coordinating Council for Women in History, the National History Center, the New York Public Library, and the Princeton University Libraries. She has given talks to audiences across the country, and she and her work have appeared in media outlets including PBS American Experience, the BBC, Dissent, the New Yorker, Politico.com, the Washington Post, NPR, Soledad O’Brien’s Matter of Fact, and numerous podcasts. She is now working on a global history of the Phelps-Dodge family, whose capitalist and philanthropic links between New York, the US-Mexico Borderlands, and the Middle East profoundly changed each region. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and two children, and she enjoys working with teachers and K-12 students.
In July 1917, in the copper mining town of Bisbee, Arizona, a strike led by the radical union, the Industrial Workers of the World, was stopped by an elaborate vigilante action. Over 1000 local men rounded up the strikers and their sympathizers, and shipped them by company boxcar into the middle of the New Mexico desert. The event created front-page headlines across the country, international controversy, and a federal investigation. This lecture explores the complex origins in the racial, class, and gendered history of this infamous event, and its relationship to the US-Mexico border, World War I, and the course of labor history and race relations in the American Southwest.