Eric Arnesen

Eric Arnesen
Phillips Hall
801 22nd St NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

  • Modern United States
  • African American History
  • Labor History
  • Communism and Anticommunism

Eric Arnesen is the James R. Hoffa Teamsters Professor of Modern American Labor History and Vice Dean for Faculty and Administration in GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.  His scholarly work focuses on issues of race, labor, politics, and civil rights. In his book, Brotherhoods of Color, he explored traditions of black trade unionism and labor activism, white union racial ideologies and practices, and workplace race relations. In various essays, he has debated the uses of the concept of “whiteness” in American history, the character of black anti-communism, and the utility of the “long civil rights movement” framework. His current project is a political biography of the civil rights and labor leader A. Philip Randolph. A former president of The Historical Society, Professor Arnesen teaches courses on modern U.S. history, American labor history, and race and public policy. His reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The Boston Globe and his review essays have appeared in The New Republic, Dissent, and Historically Speaking. In 2006, he held the Distinguished Fulbright Chair at the Swedish Institute for North American Studies at Uppsala University in Sweden and in 2011-2012 he was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  He is currently co-chair of the Washington History Seminar at the Wilson Center. 

Complete C.V. (PDF)


Ph.D., Yale University, 1986


Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

  • Winner, Wesley-Logan Prize in Diaspora History, American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, 2001.
  • Distinguished Honors, Robert F. Kennedy Book Award of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation, 2002.
  • Finalist, Sidney Hillman Book Award, 2002.

Waterfront Workers of New Orleans: Race, Class, and Politics, 1863-1923. Oxford University Press, 1991; University of Illinois Press, 1994 paperback edition.

  • Winner, John H. Dunning Prize, American Historical Association, 1991.

Editor, The Black Worker: Race, Labor, and Civil Rights since Emancipation. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

Black Protest and the Great Migration: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford Series in History & Culture, Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2002.

“A. Philip Randolph, Emerging Socialist Radical.” In Reframing Randolph: Debating A. PhilipRandolph’s Legacies to Labor and Black Freedom, edited by Andrew Kersten and Clarence Lang. New York University Press, 2014.

“The Traditions of African-American Anticommunism.” Twentieth Century Communism Issue 6 (2014): 124-148

“Civil Rights and the Cold War At Home: Post-War Activism, Anticommunism, and the Decline of the Left” and “The Final Conflict?: On the Scholarship of Civil Rights, the Left and the Cold War.” American Communist History 11, no. 2 (Spring 2012): 5-44, 63-80

“No ‘Graver Danger’: Black Anticommunism, the Communist Party, and the Race Question.” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 3, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 13-52.

“Passion and Politics: Race and the Writing of Working-Class History.” The Journal of the Historical Society 6, no. 3 (Fall 2006): 323-56.

“Whiteness and the Historians’ Imagination.” International Labor and Working-Class History 60 (Fall 2001): 3-32.


James R. Hoffa Teamsters Professor of Modern American Labor

Classes Taught

HIST 1311: Introduction to American History, 1876 to Present

HIST 3321: Contemporary U.S. History since 1945