Melissa Nobles is an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her teaching and research interests are in the comparative study of racial and ethnic politics, nationalism, social movements, and issues of retrospective justice. Her book Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics (Stanford University Press, 2000) examines the political origins and consequences of racial categorization in demographic censuses in the United States and Brazil.
As a Radcliffe fellow, Nobles will be working on a book-length manuscript that examines the political uses of official apologies in comparative perspective, focusing on Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. The book explores why minority groups demand such apologies and why governments give them (or do not). She argues that official apologies are tactics used in larger political strategies to alter the terms and meanings of political membership. As tactics, official apologies are employed by groups and states, for shared and competing purposes.
Nobles holds a BA in history from Brown University and an MA and a PhD in political science from Yale University. Her book Shades of Citizenship received the Outstanding Book Award for 2001 from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, as well as an honorable mention for the Ralph Bunche Book Award from the American Political Science Association. Nobles has also been a fellow at Boston University's Institute on Race and Social Division.