Graduate Program


WMU has brought together an engaged group of scholars working in the field of ethnohistory. Particular areas of expertise include culture contact, colonialism, material analysis, historiography, oral history, gender, historical archaeology, ethnography, tribalization, globalization, and modernization. These topics are not restricted to any particular geographic area nor any particular societal structure.

The core of ethnohistory lies in the realization shared by practitioners of the benefits obtained through the use of multiple lines of evidence to study history and culture. Ethnohistorians recognize that documents, archaeological findings, oral histories, and ethnographies can be profitably compared, contrasted, and integrated to elucidate the histories and cultural contexts of groups that have been ignored in conventional historical accounts. Thus, interdisciplinary study is incumbent in ethnohistory. By juxtaposing multiple lines of evidence, the ethnohistorian can at once examine the distant and the local, the general and the particular, bringing human experience into better focus.

The Ethnohistory Certificate is open to students enrolled in a graduate degree program at Western Michigan University. The Certificate requires that students take 15 credit hours of Ethnohistory courses, at least one of which is outside of their home department. Students will also take the Ethnohistory seminar that will be taught every year, alternating between the Departments of History and Anthropology. Students must take the course once in each department.

Ethnohistory Graduate Faculty

Brandão, José António (History) North American Indian, New France, Comparative Colonial, Iroquois

Mirzeler, Mustafa (Africana Studies) Africa, oral history

Nassaney, Michael (Anthropology) Culture Contact, Historical Archaeology, Material Analysis, Eastern United States

Palmitessa, James R. (History) Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Everyday Life, Society & Religion, Urban History/Culture, Material Culture

Straight, Bilinda (Anthropology) Oral History, Ethnography, Material Culture, Africa

Zagarell, Allen (Anthropology) Tribal Groups in South Asia, Tribalism, Pastoralism


Contributing Ethnohistory Graduate Faculty

Beyan, Amos (History, Africana Studies) African & African-American History, Colonization, Atlantic Slave Trade

Kachun, Mitch (History) African-American, Memory and Commemoration

Saillant, John (English, History) American Studies, early American Literature, Colonialism, Slavery, African-American diaspora

Questions? Contact:

Dr. James Palmitessa, Director of Graduate Studies
4355 Friedmann Hall
(269) 387-4640

Department of History
4301 Friedmann Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA
(269) 387-4650 | (269) 387-4651 Fax