Robert Self is an associate professor of history at Brown University. His work is concerned with the politics of post-World War II American liberalism and with the state as a site of contest over the social divisions of class, race, and gender. He is the author of American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton University Press, 2003), which examines the transformation of American politics during the civil rights, black power, and tax revolt eras, from 1945 through the late 1970s, focusing on Oakland and the East Bay suburbs in California.
Self is currently writing a book, provisionally titled “The Politics of Gender and Sexuality in America from Watts to Reagan,” that examines the contentious and far-reaching contests over national gender norms, the family, and sexual privacy, whose distinct strands merged and overlapped during the nearly two decades between the Watts riot in 1965 and the rise of the Moral Majority and Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. The project asks a central question about American political culture in those years: How did struggles over gender equity, sexual liberation, and the boundaries between public and private remake the nation’s political culture and redefine American liberalism?
Self is also the recipient of a 2007–2008 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His first book won four major academic prizes, from the Organization of American Historians, the American Political Science Association, the Urban History Association, and the Urban Affairs Association. His residency at Radcliffe is supported by a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars from the ACLS.