Karen V. Hansen

Karen V. Hansen

Fellow: Awarded 2006
Field of Study: U.S. History

Competition: US & Canada

Brandeis University

Karen V. Hansen, a historical sociologist, teaches at Brandeis University. She studies the intersections among kinship, community, and structures of inequality in the United States, using ethnographic research and oral history interviews as well as archival sources. In her latest book, Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930 (Oxford, 2013) she investigates land taking and coexistence on the Spirit Lake Dakota Indian Reservation. Encounter chronicles the processes that created ethnically mixed communities and mingled the separate and intertwining stories of Dakotas and immigrants—women and men, farmers, domestic servants, and day laborers—and their shared struggles to maintain a language, practice a culture, and honor loyalties to more than one nation. In addition to support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.


Hansen’s study of contemporary working families, Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and Networks of Care (Rutgers, 2011) investigates the dynamic networks parents construct to help them care for their school-age children. A recipient of the William J. Goode Book Award, Honorable Mention from the American Sociological Association Family Section, the book vividly illustrates the conflicts, hardships and triumphs of four family networks that span the economic spectrum. Research for this project was supported by the Berkeley Center for Working Families at the University of California and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant. With Anita Ilta Garey, she co-edited Families in the U.S.: Kinship and Domestic Politics and At the Heart of Work and Family.


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