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Destin Jenkins

Assistant Professor of History

Destin Jenkins is a historian of capitalism and democracy in post-Reconstruction America. He is broadly concerned with the causes and consequences of inequality, its relationship to various markets, and when, how, and why African Americans organized collectively to challenge systems of domination.  

His first book, The Bonds of Inequality: Debt and the Making of the American City (University of Chicago Press, 2021), won the Ellis W. Hawley Prize and James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians (2022), the 2022 Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book in North American Urban History, and was a finalist for the 2022 best new book in African American History and Culture from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

He is also co-editor of Histories of Racial Capitalism (Columbia University Press, 2021), which brings together scholars across a range of disciplines to revisit the persistent question of the relationship between race and capitalism. 

His writings have appeared in the Washington PostThe Nation, and the New York Times. Jenkins serves on the editorial board of the American Historical Review.  

Destin Jenkins is working to two projects. The first is a concise history of debt in America (W.W. Norton). The second project weaves together three intersecting stories. The first concerns the rise of Black political representation in cities across America in the wake of the civil rights revolution. The second story is about the underground economy. The final story concerns privatization in and of local government. By grounding these accounts in granular, humdrum matters of revenues, expenditures, debt, and administration, the book expands the boundaries of African American history and carceral studies, and contributes to histories of capitalism and American political development.

Before joining the faculty at Stanford, he was the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He has held fellowships at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, and the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies at The New School. 

Jenkins offers courses on the history of capitalism, comparative race and ethnicity, African American politics, urban/suburban history, crime and punishment, and U.S. historiography.