Neil Foley

Neil Foley portrait

Professor, and 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 
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 politics of immigration and citizenship in North America and Europe; Nativism/Xenophobia and ethno-nationalist movements globally; changing constructions of race, citizenship, and transnational identity in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands; migration studies; and comparative civil rights politics of African, Asian, and Latinx Americans. 

He is co-editor (with James Hollifield) of Understanding Global Migration (Stanford University Press, 2022) and  the author of The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture (University of California Press, 1997); Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity (Harvard University Press, 2010), Mexicans in the Making of America (Harvard University Press, 2014); Los Mexicanos en la creación de los Estados Unidos (Instituto Mora, 2020); Teaching Mexican American History (American Historical Association, 2002, co-authored with John R. Chávez); and Reflexiones: New Directions in Mexican American Studies (University of Texas Press, 1998).

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, Zaragoza), 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

  • Mexicans and the Making of America nominated by Harvard University Press for the Pulitzer Prize in History for 2015.
  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2015.
  • Godbey Book Award, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Interdisciplinary Institute, for Mexicans in the Making of America.
  • Texas Institute of Letters, Most Significant Scholarly Book Award, 2011, for Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity (Harvard, 2010).
  • Finalist, David J.Weber Prize, Western Historical Association, “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

  • International Migration Research Grant, the Département Mobilité internationale / Department of international Mobility at Université Paris Cité, summer 2023
  • U.S.-Spain Fulbright Commission, Fulbright Senior Scholar award, the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 2021-2022 academic year.
  • Senior Fellow, John Goodwin Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs, 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 Fellow, 2008-2009
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, 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 Scholar, 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 Fellowship, 2006-2007
  • Humanities Institute, University of Texas, 2002-2003
  • Fulbright Senior Scholar, American Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, 2000-2001
  • 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

Teaching Interests

Professor Foley’s teaching fields include 19th and 20th century U.S. History; Race, Citizenship, and Transnational Identity in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands; Politics of immigration in the U.S. and Europe; Nativism/Xenophobia and ethno-nationalist movements globally; Transnational American Studies; Native American and Indigenous studies; African, Asian, and Latinx Civil Rights Politics in the 20th Century; and Legal, Labor, and Political History of the American Southwest.