Neil Foley

The Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Chair in History
Associate Director, Clements Center for Southwest Studies



Office: Dallas Hall Room 302
Phone: 214-768-3753
Email: foleyn[@]


Educational Background

Ph.D., American Culture, University of Michigan, 1990 
M.A., American Culture, University of Michigan 
M.A., English and American Literature, Georgetown University 
B.A., English, University of Virginia

Research Interests

Professor Foley's current research centers on the changing constructions of race, citizenship, and transnational identity in the Borderlands, Mexico and the American West; Mexican immigration; and comparative civil rights politics of African Americans and Mexican Americans. He is the author of The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas (Berkeley, 1997); Quest for Equality:The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity (Harvard, 2010), and Mexicans in the Making of America (Harvard, 2014). He has co-authored (with John R. Chávez) Teaching Mexican American History (2002) and he is also the editor of Reflexiones:  New Directions in Mexican American Studies (1998). He is co-editor (with James Hollifield) of Understanding Global Migration (forthcoming 2021, Stanford University Press).

Professor Foley is a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians and has lectured extensively in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. For a number of years he lived and taught in Mexico (Mexico City), Germany (Berlin, Heidelberg, Stuttgart), Spain (Salamanca, Zaragosa), and Japan (Misawa; Naha, Okinawa). He also spent two years living on aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea where he taught sailors of the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet in its Program for Afloat College Education (PACE).

Quest for Equality   

Book and Article Awards

  • Godbey Book Award, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Interdisciplinary Institute, for Mexicans in the Making of America(Harvard, 2014).
  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2015.
  • Mexicans and the Making of America nominated by Harvard University Press for the Pulitzer Prize in History for 2015.
  • Texas Institute of Letters, Most Significant Scholarly Book Award, 2011, for Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity(Harvard, 2010).
  • Finalist, Weber-Clements Prize, Clements Center for Southwest Studies, for the Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America, 2011, for Quest for Equality.
  • A Huffington Post Best Social and Political Awareness Book of the year for 2010, for Quest for Equality.
  • Organization of American Historians, Frederick Jackson Turner Book Prize, for the best book on a “significant phase of American history,” 1998, for The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas  (Berkeley, 1997). 
  • American Historical Association, Pacific Coast Branch Book Award, for “best book on the American West,” 1998.
  • Southern Historical Association, Charles Sydnor Book Award, for “a distinguished book in Southern history,” 1998.
  • Western Historical Association, Robert G. Athearn Book Award, for “best book on the twentieth-century West,” 1998.
  • Texas Historical Commission, T. R. Fehrenbach Book Award, for a historical study “based on original research,” 1998.
  • Robert W. Hamilton Book Award, University of Texas, 1998, first place, for a book representing “the highest honor of literary achievement” among all books published by University of Texas faculty in 1997. 
  • Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America, 1998.
  • Finalist, Lillian Smith Book Award, Southern Regional Conference, for a book “worthy of recognition because of its literary merit, moral vision, and honest representation of the South, its people, problems, and promises,” 1998.
  • Southern Historical Association, Fletcher M. Green and Charles W. Ramsdell Award, for the “best article published in the Journal of Southern History” in 1996 and 1997.

Fellowships, Honors and Distinctions

  • Senior Fellow, John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, 1916-present
  • Giles W. and Elise G. Mead Foundation Fellow, Huntington Library, Spring 2016
  • Ray Allen Billington Lecture, The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, 2015
  • Institute for Historical Studies, University of Texas, 2011-2012
  • John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, 2008-2009
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, 2008-2009
  • Nathan I. Huggins Lectures in American History, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, April 21-23, 2009
  • Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Senior Research Fellow, Washington, D.C., 2007-2008
  • Fulbright Senior Research Fellow, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico City, 2007-2008
  • Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton University, Fall 2007 (declined)
  • American Philosophical Society, 2006-2007
  • Humanities Institute, University of Texas, 2002-2003
  • Fulbright Senior Fellow, American Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, 2000-2001
  • Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lecture, University of Texas at Arlington, 2000
  • American Council of Learned Societies Senior Fellow, 1998-1999
  • Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, 1998-1999 (deferred)
  • Ford Foundation/National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, 1992-1993
  • Martin Luther King, Jr./César Chávez/Rosa Parks Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan, 1990-1991

Courses Taught

Professor Foley’s teaching fields include 19th and 20th century U.S. History; Borderlands/Southwest History; Mexican American and Latinx History; The American West; Immigration, Citizenship, and Transnational Identity in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands; African American and Latinx Civil Rights Politics in the 20th Century; and Legal, Labor, and Political History of the American Southwest.