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Benjamin Madley


Contact Information

Email    madley@ucla.edu
Office  5371 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-825-1278

Benjamin Madley is an historian of Native America, the United States, and colonialism in world history. Born in Redding, California, he spent much of his childhood in Karuk Country near the Oregon border where he became interested in the relationship between colonizers and indigenous peoples. He writes about Native Americans as well as colonialism in Africa, Australia, and Europe, often applying a transnational and comparative approach.

Madley is the author of a dozen peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles. His book chapters have been published in four edited volumes. His eight articles have appeared in journals ranging from the American Historical Review to European History Quarterly and the Journal of Genocide Research.

Yale University Press published his first book, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873This book received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History, the Raphael Lemkin Book Award from the Institute for the Study of Genocide,  the Charles Redd Center / Phi Alpha Theta Award for the Best Book on the American West, the California Book Awards Gold Medal for Californiana, the Heyday Books History Award, and the Norman Neuerburg Award from the Historical Society of Southern CaliforniaIt was also named a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, an Indian Country Today Hot List book, a Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Title, and a Caroline Bancroft History Prize Honor Book. True West Magazine named Madley the Best New Western Author of 2016. According to California Governor Jerry Brown, "Madley corrects the record with his gripping story of what really happened: the actual genocide of a vibrant civilization, thousands of years in the making."

Madley's current research explores Native American labor in the making of the western United States.

Madley earned a B.A. in History at Yale University in 1994 and received a Henry Fellowship to attend Oxford University, where he completed an M.St. in Modern European History. In 2009, he earned a Ph.D. in History at Yale. Before coming to UCLA, he was an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department and Native American Studies Program at Dartmouth College from 2010 to 2012.

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Ph.D., History, Yale University, 2009
M.Phil., History, Yale University, 2005
M.A., History, Yale University, 2005
M.St., History, Oxford University, 1995
B.A., History, Yale University, 1994, summa cum laude


Charles Redd Center / Phi Alpha Theta Award for the Best Book on the American West, 2018

Norman Neuerburg Book Award from the Historical Society of Southern California, 2018

Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History, 2017

Raphael Lemkin Book Award from the Institute for the Study of Genocide, 2017

California Book Awards Gold Medal for Californiana, 2017

Caroline Bancroft History Prize Honor Book from the Denver Public Library, 2017

San Francisco Public Library Laureate, 2017

Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Title, 2016

True West Magazine Best New Western Author, 2016

Heyday Books History Book Award from Heyday Books Publishing, 2016

Phi Alpha Theta / Westerners International Dissertation Prize, 2010

Yale University Fredrick W. Beinecke Dissertation Prize, 2009

Arrell M. Gibson Award for best article of 2008, in any journal, on Native American History, 2009

Oscar O. Winther Award for best article of 2008 in The Western Historical Quarterly, 2009

Selected Publications


An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016).


"Genocide in the Golden State: A Response to Reviews by William Bauer, Jr., Margaret Jacobs, Karl Jacoby and Jeffrey Ostler," Journal of Genocide Research 19:1 (March, 2017), 154-163. 

"Understanding Genocide in California under United States Rule, 1846-1873," The Western Historical Quarterly 47:4 (Winter, 2016), 449-461.

"Reexamining the American Genocide Debate: Meaning, Historiography, and New Methods," The American Historical Review 120:1 (February, 2015), 98-139.

"'Unholy Traffic in Human Blood and Souls:' Systems of California Indian Servitude under U.S. Rule," Pacific Historical Review 83:4 (November, 2014), 626-667.

"California's Yuki Indians: Defining Genocide in Native American History," The Western Historical Quarterly 39:3 (Autumn, 2008), 303-332.

"From Terror to Genocide: Britain's Tasmanian Penal Colony and Australia's History Wars," Journal of British Studies 47:1 (January, 2008), 77-106.

"From Africa to Auschwitz: How German South West Africa incubated ideas and methods adopted and developed by the Nazis in Eastern Europe," European History Quarterly 35:3 (July, 2005), 429-464.

"Patterns of Frontier Genocide, 1803-1910: The Aboriginal Tasmanians, the Yuki of California, and the Herero of Namibia," Journal of Genocide Research 6:2 (June, 2004), 167-192.


"California and Oregon's Modoc Indians: How Indigenous Resistance Camouflages Genocide in Colonial Histories" in Andrew Woolford, Jeff Benvenuto, and Alexander Laban Hinton, eds., Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), 95-130.

"The Genocide of California's Yana Indians" in Samuel Totten and William S. Parsons, eds., Centuries of Genocide: Essays and Eyewitness Accounts (New York: Routledge, 2012), 16-53.

"Tactics of Nineteenth Century Colonial Massacre: Tasmania, California and Beyond" in Philip G. Dwyer and Lyndall Ryan, eds.,Theatres of Violence: Massacres, Mass Killing and Atrocity Throughout History (New York: Berghan Books, 2012), 110-125.

"When 'The World Was Turned Upside Down': California and Oregon's Tolowa Indian Genocide, 1851-1856" in Adam Jones, ed., New Directions in Genocide Research (New York: Routledge, 2011), 170-196.


Catherine M. Cameron, Paul Kelton, and Alan C. Swedlund, eds., Beyond Germs: Native Depopulation in North America (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2015) in The Journal of American History 103:4 (March 2017), 1022-1023

Deborah and Jon Lawrence, Violent Encounters: Interviews On Western Massacres (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011) in The Western Historical Quarterly 43:2 (Summer, 2012), 224-225.

Saul Friedländer, The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007) in Journal of Genocide Research 12:3 (Autumn, 2010), 279-280.

Richard T. Stillson, Spreading the Word: A History of Information in the California Gold Rush (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006) in The Western Historical Quarterly 39:1 (Spring, 2008), 79-80.

Frank Baumgardner, Killing for Land in Early California: Indian Blood at Round Valley, 1856-1863 (New York: Algora Publishing, 2005) in The Americas 64:2 (October, 2007), 279-280.

William D. Rubinstein, Genocide: A History (Harlow: Longman, 2004) in European History Quarterly 36:2 (April, 2006), 332-334.


Namibia: Genocide and the Second Reich, a 60-minute BBC documentary (first aired December 7, 2004).


Native American labor in the making of the western United States

Graduate Students

Preston S. McBride
William Wood