Evan Taparata

Evan Taparata

Global American Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History
Lecturer in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights
Evan Taparata

Evan Taparata is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Global American Studies at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. His research and teaching interests revolve around migration, belonging, law, and empire in the 19th and 20th century United States. He is a founding member of the digital collective behind AbusablePast.org—the online companion to the Radical History Review—and he has contributed to a number of digital public history projects, including the Humanities Action Lab’s “States of Incarceration” initiative and the #ImmigrationSyllabus. His scholarship has been published in the Journal of American Ethnic History and he has been a regular contributor to PublicRadioInternational.org, both as a freelance writer and as the Interim Social Media Editor for PRI’s daily radio broadcast The World. In Spring 2021, he will teach the EMR seminar “Introduction to Critical Refugee Studies.”

Taparata is currently at work on his book manuscript, State of Refuge: The Origins of Refugee Law and Policy in the United States. State of Refuge ends when most histories of refugee policy begin. Scholars have typically identified the origins of American refugee law in the years after World War II. In contrast, State of Refuge traces a wider world of refugee policy in the United States that began in the country’s founding era and evolved over the course of the long-19th century. Taparata explores how the United States’ foundational practices of refuge—including not only refugee laws and policies, but also notions of who was a deserving and assimilable “refugee” and what the nation owed various displaced peoples—were entangled with the dispossession of Native peoples, the marginalization of African Americans before and after emancipation, and the exclusion of “undesirable” immigrants. State of Refuge examines how U.S. refugee policy in the past and in the present has been and remains fundamentally limited by the interests of the U.S. settler state, and tells the complicated story of the United States as a place of refuge that has always and at the same time welcomed refugees, excluded refugees, and created refugees.

Taparata’s first book project is based on his dissertation, “No Asylum for Mankind: The Creation of Refugee Law and Policy in the United States, 1776-1951,” which he completed at the University of Minnesota in 2018. “No Asylum for Mankind” received the University of Minnesota’s Best Dissertation Award in the Arts and Humanities and was recognized with an honorable mention for the Immigration and Ethnic History Society’s Outstanding Dissertation Award. He was the 2018-2020 Jack Miller Center Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy before coming to Harvard.