I am a clinical assistant professor at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I am a historian who studies and teaches the working-class and labor history of North America, with a focus on urban disasters, working-class organizations, and migration. My book, Disaster Citizenship: Survivors, Solidarity, and Power in the Progressive Era (University of Illinois Press, 2016) examines the overlapping responses of individuals, families, civil society, and the state to the Salem, Mass., Fire of 1914, and the Halifax, N.S., Explosion of 1917. I have also written scholarly articles on a variety of other subjects, ranging from interwar Social Catholicism to Indigenous land rights to transnational printers in the 19th century. I am at work on a new book about food, urban agriculture, and how urban migrants lost a their productive relationship with nature.
I served twice as executive secretary of the Labor and Working-Class History Association, and I am a founding member of the Southern Labor Studies Association and the Labor Research and Action Network. I have received awards from the Canadian Committee on Labour History, the Labor and Working-Class History Association, Duke University, and Yale University, and I have been the William Lyon Mackenize King Research Fellow at Harvard, a Josephine de Karman Fellow, a University Scholar at Duke, and an American Council of Learned Societies/Andrew W. Mellon Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellow. I got a B.A. in history from Yale University in 2002 and an M.A. (2006) and Ph.D. (2010) in history from Duke.
My teaching interests are related to my research. I teach classes in disaster studies, labor history and labor studies, the history of the welfare state, and environmental history. I have also taught modern American history, immigration history and policy, Canadian history, and U.S.-Canada relations, and a variety of other topics. Prior to coming to N.Y.U., I taught at Harvard University, Columbia University, Duke University, and Meiji University in Tokyo, and I was an assistant professor and mentor at SUNY Empire State College.
My historical work informs and inspires contemporary interests in the labor movement, urban affairs, and disaster response. I tweet regularly on these topics (and others) as @jacremes. My popular writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, Salon, the News and Observer, Alternet, Truth-Out, and on various blogs. Sometimes, reporters ask me for historical or other background on topics about which I have some expertise. Most Sundays between 2012 and 2017, I compiled a list of my favorite articles of the week and included them in The New Inquiry’s Sunday Reading feature.