Brian DeLay is a scholar of 18th- and 19th-century North America, specializing in transnational, borderlands, and Native American histories. Most of his writing explores connections between U.S., Latin American, and Indigenous histories in order to better understand power and inequality in the Western Hemisphere. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2004, and taught for five years at the University of Colorado, Boulder before taking a position at UC Berkeley where he is now Preston Hotchkis Chair in the History of the United States. He is author of a number of articles and essays, and co-author of the U.S. history textbooks Experience History and U.S./A Narrative History (McGraw-Hill). DeLay’s 2008 book, War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War (Yale University Press), won prizes from several different scholarly organizations. Since then he has published on a number of topics, including the similarities and differences between 19th and 21st century instability in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands; the connection between guns and governance in Mexico’s post-independence history; Lincoln's policy toward the French Intervention in Mexico; violence and belonging on the Navajo-New Mexican frontier; the international context for John Singleton Copley’s iconic painting Watson and the Shark; Native peoples and U.S. empire; and international relations between Indigenous polities in nineteenth-century North America. He has served as a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer, and has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the ACLS, the American Philosophical Society, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Stanford Humanities Center, and other organizations. He is the editor of North American Borderlands (Routledge, 2012). DeLay is now at work on two books for W.W. Norton: Aim at Empire: American Revolutions through the Barrel of a Gun, 1750-1825, and Means of Destruction: Guns, Freedom, and Domination in the Americas before World War II.
In the News
Historian Brian DeLay’s research traces the roots of the modern arms trade all the way back to the mid-18th century, when weapons were manufactured in America or Britain only to be distributed or sold throughout the northern hemisphere.