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Shana Bernstein

Clinical Associate Professor of Legal Studies

Ph.D., Stanford University, 2003
Curriculum Vitae


Geographic Field(s):  American History, Since 1900

Thematic Field(s):  Environmental History; Urban History

Principal Research Interest(s):  20th-century US social reform movements, race, ethnicity, health, and environment


Shana Bernstein (Ph.D., Stanford, 2003) is an historian of the twentieth-century United States, with a particular interest in social reform movements, including civil rights and environmental health and justice. Originally from Northern California, where she completed degrees at UC Berkeley and Stanford, she initially joined Northwestern as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Latino Studies before accepting a tenure-track position in History at Southwestern University in 2004. She rejoined the Northwestern faculty in 2014 as a Clinical Associate Professor of Legal Studies.

Her first book, Bridges of Reform: Interracial Civil Rights Activism in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles (Oxford, 2011), reinterprets U.S. civil rights activism by revealing its roots in the interracial efforts of Mexican, Jewish, African, and Japanese Americans in mid-century Los Angeles. It also argues that the early Cold War facilitated, rather than derailed, some forms of activism. Bernstein has also written academic articles on the history of environmental health and civil rights, and has written essays for CNN, The Forward, Talking Points Memo, The Hill, Pacific Standard, American Prospect, and the Austin American Statesman. She has received fellowships including from the Huntington Library and the Mellon Foundation, and is a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.

Bernstein is currently working on a project that uses the history of strawberries as a lens for exploring the intersection of worker health, consumer health, and environmental health. She teaches undergraduate courses on comparative race and ethnicity, immigration, and health and inequality.

Affiliated Programs


Selected academic publications:

Recent reviews:

  • Llana Barber, Latino City: Immigration and Urban Crisis in Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1945-2000, in American Historical Review (forthcoming)
  • Marne L. Campbell, Making Black Los Angeles: Class, Gender, and Community, 1850-1917, in Western Historical Quarterly (Autumn 2017)
  • Lila Corwin Berman, Metropolitan Jews: Politics, Race, and Religion in Postwar Detroit, in American Historical Review (June 2016)
  • Allan W. Austin, Quaker Brotherhood: Interracial Activism and the American Friends Service Committee, 1917-1950, in Quaker Studies (2016)
  • Sonia Song-Ha Lee, Building a Latino Civil Rights Movement: Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in New York City, in Social Service Review (March 2015)
  • Kevin Carlos Blanton, George. I. Sáchez: The Long Fight for Mexican American Integration, in Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2015)
  • Gordon Mantler, Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice, 1960-1974, in American Historical Review (February 2014)

Media Publications:

Teaching Interests

  • Teaching interests include American social and political history, race and ethnicity, health, environment, and the U.S. West


  • Senior Thesis Seminar (American Studies Program)
  • American Immigration (Legal Studies Program and History Department)
  • U.S. Health: Illness and Inequality (American Studies Program)
  • American West (first year seminar)
  • Comparative Race and Ethnicity (American Studies Program and Legal Studies Program)
  • Japanese American "Internment" (Legal Studies and Asian American Studies)

Recent Awards and Honors

  • Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll, Northwestern University (2015-2016 and 2014-2015)
  • OpEd Project Public Voices Fellow, Northwestern University (2014-15)
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians (appointed 2012, reappointed 2015)