Assistant Professor, Department of History,
Co-Chair, Program in Asian and Asian American Studies,
Baruch College, City University of New York.
Area of Research:
Twentieth-century U.S. history, particularly urban history, politics and policy, race, immigration, and
Asian American history.
2002 Ph.D. U.S. History, Northwestern University.
Brooks is the author of Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of
Urban California (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).
Brooks is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:"The War on Grant Avenue: Business Competition and Ethnic Rivalry in San Francisco's Chinatown, 1937-1942,"
Journal of Urban History, forthcoming (March 2011);"Sing Sheng vs. Southwood: Housing, Race, and the Cold War in 1950s California," Pacific Historical Review 73:3
(August 2004). [Reprinted in The Best American History Essays 2006, edited by Joyce Appleby
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)];"In the Twilight Zone Between Black and White: Japanese American Resettlement and Community in Chicago, 1942-1945,"
Journal of American History 86:4 (March 2000).
She is currently doing research for her second book, Between Mao and McCarthy: Chinese American Political Culture in
Cold War America (under contract with the University of Chicago Press). This book will examine the contours of
Chinese American political activism after World War Two and the way it intersected with U.S. foreign policy,
larger Asian American struggles for access to equal citizenship, the growth of Great Society programs, and
the postwar black civil rights movement.
Brooks is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Brooks is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Honorable Mention, 2010 Frederick Jackson Turner Award (for an author's first
book on some significant phase of American history), Organization of American Historians, 2010;
Eugene M. Lang Junior Faculty Research Program Fellowship, Baruch College, 2009-2010;
Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York Grant, Baruch College, 2009;
Baruch College, Weissman School Dean's Office Summer Research Grant, 2008;
Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York Grant, Baruch College, 2008;
Individual Development Award, State University of New York Joint Labor-Management Committee; 2006;
Louis Knott Koontz Memorial Award (for best article in the previous volume of the Pacific Historical Review),
Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association, 2005;
Faculty Research Assistance Program B Grant, University at Albany, 2004-2005;
Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, Barnard College (declined), 2003;
Northwestern University Graduate School Dissertation Year Fellowship, 2001-2002;
Social Science Research Council International Migration Dissertation Fellowship, 2000-2001;
Harry S Truman Library Foundation Research Grant, 2000;
Haynes Foundation Southern California History Research Grant, 2000;
Northwestern University Graduate School Research Grant, 2000;
Teaching Assistant Fellow, Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, 1999-2000.
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of History,
Faculty Affiliate, Department of Public Administration and Policy, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy,
University at Albany, State University of New York.
Although born in Los Angeles, I grew up in Auburn, a small town about forty-five minutes outside of Sacramento.
At the time, Auburn's boosters played up its status as an old Gold Rush hub to lure tourists; as I grew older,
however, I realized that the town also possessed what in those days was a largely unexplored Asian American past.
I caught an occasional glimpse in the Shanghai Bar in Old Town, the tumbledown shacks that longtime residents still
referred to as the"Chinese section," or a stack of the town's old high school yearbooks, where I discovered that
until 1942, one-third of the student body of the now almost all-white school had been Japanese American.
Yet it took me many years to explore this past any further. Our high school textbooks didn't discuss Asian
American history, nor did Yale offer any courses in the subject when I was a student there. During my undergrad
years I tried to remedy what I felt was my general provinciality and weak educational background by taking
courses on every area of the world except the US. In the process, I became particularly fascinated with modern
China, studying everything from Chinese history to Chinese literature to the Chinese language itself. Desperate
to actually visit China, I signed up with a program to teach English there after college, only to find myself
placed at the last minute in a xenophobic town in Hubei Province. As the only white person and the only obvious
foreigner in the city, I faced not only constant stares but actual harassment on a daily basis. People routinely
came up to me and clapped in my face to see how I would react, children threw firecrackers and debris at me with
the encouragement of adults, and even students from other departments in my college taunted me on campus. It was
one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but at the same time, one of the most important. While I could
never escape for a moment my status as an outsider, I had the opportunity to watch China in the midst of a
wrenching industrial revolution.
My time in Hubei and a subsequent stint in Hong Kong made me think about issues such as race, class,
environmental degradation, and economic development in ways I had never considered before. They also inspired
to me to apply to graduate school to study U.S. history while further exploring the Chinese past.
The question I hear most often from students, friends, and family members is,"Why do you study that?" They're
not referring to urban history or 20th century America, but to Asian American history. It's a question I've always
struggled to answer satisfactorily, mostly because its racial subtext makes me self-conscious. I know, too, that
historians often decide to study their own communities when they focus on fields such as gay and lesbian history,
women's history, African American history, or similar subjects. I can't claim to be doing the same in my work,
but I do think that my background is the reason I study Asian American history. And I believe that the importance
of this field to the larger American story means that while I am not Asian American, Asian American history is my
By Charlotte Brooks
"California's postwar racial transformation did not result mainly from growing white acceptance of Asian
American citizenship. Nor did it take place simply because of the repeal of prewar anti-Asian laws, although
Asian Americans welcomed and benefited from such changes. Rather, it occurred largely because the meaning of
Asian American 'foreignness' itself shifted with changing American interests in Asia. As the cold war deepened,
a growing number of white Californians saw Asian American housing integration as a necessary price to pay for
victory in the struggle. And as thousands of Asian Americans began moving to neighborhoods where blacks could
not follow, the racial geography of urban and suburban California in the late 1950s because the most obvious
barometer of the state's racial transformation." --
Charlott Brooks in"Alien Neighbors,
Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California"
Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California
About Charlotte Brooks
"The Turner Award Committee identified three studies for honorable mention, each of which reflects innovative
as well as rigorous methodological inquiry. Each of these studies merits honorable recognition... Alien Neighbors,
Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California (The University of Chicago
Press) broadens the history of U.S. Cold War foreign policy to consider the rapidly changing place of Asian Americans
within American society. Its focus on housing patterns highlights how California's most persecuted minority
communities before and especially during World War II became representatives of new but nonetheless limited
forms of American liberalism after the war." -- OAH's Frederick Jackson Turner Committee for"Alien Neighbors,
Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California", which received an
"A nuanced exploration of multiracial race relations and the complexities attending Asian Americans'
shifting social status in California's cities, this book is an important contribution to urban and Asian American
history. Charlotte Brooks's discussions about the exclusion of Asian Americans from New Deal programs and the undoing
of racial covenants in the cold war era are original, well researched, and subtly argued. She compellingly
illuminates the limits of postwar racial liberalism." --
Mae Ngai, Columbia University, author of"Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America"
"A fascinating study, beautifully accomplished. Comparing the experience of Japanese and Chinese Americans
in two California cities, Brooks illuminates the complex texture of discrimination, and the role of citizenship
and international affairs in the evolution of equality. This book illustrates the way focused studies of particular
communities contribute important insights to our understanding of the intersection of U.S. foreign affairs and
civil rights history." --
Mary L. Dudziak, USC Law School, author of"Exporting American Dreams; Thurgood Marshall's African Journey"
"Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends takes a direct and compelling approach to its investigation of how the
most viciously racialized groups in pre-World War II California became, in the decades after the war, the state's
most praised non-whites. This book is especially important for its intervention in the black-white binaries of
recent urban historiography on racial segregation, the urban crisis, and civil rights politics. It is a book unlike
almost anything else in the literature, and as such it significantly broadens our understanding of how race has
shaped American cities." -- Robert Self, Brown University, author of"American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for
"Professor Brooks is a highly qualified professor. She is so passionate about history which you can tell
through her lectures."...
"One of the best professors at Baruch. I took her for History which isn't even my focus, but I learned the most
in this class out of the whole semester. She keeps all the lessons interesting. Coming to class was a pleasure
"She is a great teacher!!! I learned a lot in her history class. I strongly recommend her..awesome!!!"... "Love her!Amazing professor!!! extremly helpful and crystal clear. Makes lectures interesting."... "Great professor, really cares about students succeeding in her class, very enthusiatic and knowledgeable
about subject."... "Excellent teacher. Really cares about students' learning the material and makes herself available for
extra help."... "You couldnt ask for a better professor. Great person,passionate, interesting lectures,
cool sense of humor."
-- Anonymous Students