James T. Sparrow

Associate Professor

(773) 834-1271

My research and teaching focus on the state and social citizenship in the modern United States. I am especially interested in national political culture and its formation within specific social, cultural, and institutional contexts. My first book,Warfare State, is a history of the social politics of the national state as its foundations shifted from welfare to warfare during World War II. Its central concern is to examine the ways in which different groups of citizens encountered the burgeoning warfare state and in the process accepted, rejected, or otherwise contested the legitimacy of expanding federal authority in everyday life. My second book project, “The New Leviathan,” examines changing notions and practices of sovereignty during the Unites States’ rise to globalism. Blending political and intellectual history with social and cultural methodology, it traces the shifting intersections of international and national, global and local levels of power, to explain the modalities of rule at home and abroad that resulted from a world politics rigidified by bipolar nuclear contention.

Current Project

The New Leviathan: Sovereign America and the Foundations of Rule in the Atomic Age (book ms).


Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Review by Walter Russell Mead in Foreign Affairs (March/April 2012).


"Behind the Atomic Curtain: School Desegregation and Territoriality in the Early Cold War." Tocqueville Review 33, no. 2 (December 2012): 115–139.

"Freedom to Want: The Federal Government and Politicized Consumption in World War II." In Mobilizing the Movement: Civil Rights and the Second World War, edited by Kevin Kruse and Stephen Tuck. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2011.

"A Nation in Motion: Norfolk, the Pentagon, and the Nationalization of the Metropolitan South, 1941–1953." In The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism, edited by Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

"'Buying Our Boys Back": The Mass Foundations of Fiscal Citizenship in World War II." Journal of Policy History 20, no. 2 (April 2008): 263–86.

Coauthored with Andrew Abbott. "Hot War, Cold War: The Structures of Sociological Action, 1940–1955." In Sociology in America: The American Sociological Association Centennial History, edited by Craig Calhoun. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

"Making Public History on the Web: The September 11 Digital Archive." In Public History: Essays from the Field, revised edition, edited by James B. Gardner and Peter S. LaPaglia. Malabar, FL: Krieger, 2004.