Mikaëla Adams’ classes at the University of Mississippi are always full. Adams, who earned her doctorate from UNC in 2012, is the first professor in the Ole Miss history department to offer courses on American Indian history. She’s had a great student response.
“There is an Indian tribe in Mississippi – the Choctaw,” Adams said. “So it’s really important that the premier university in Mississippi would have that course offering to acknowledge the diversity in the state and the nation as a whole.”
Adams’ UNC dissertation focused on tribal citizenship in the Southeastern United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“I’m interested in questions of national belonging,” Adams said. “Who is included, and who is excluded?” She said she believes her interest in citizenship stems from the fact that she spent much of her childhood as an American citizen growing up in Europe. “I was living in a place where I wasn’t a citizen,” she said.
Adams’ dissertation research took her on trips across the Southeast to archives in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. The Peggy Harpold Summer Research Fellowship made that research possible.
“My summer trips to the archives were quite extensive,” Adams said. “I used that research material to write two conference papers that I presented in fall 2011.”
When Adams isn’t teaching, she’s working on turning her dissertation into a book. She has even discovered a new research interest: how American Indian tribes have responded to epidemics, specifically the flu of 1918. She plans to pursue this interest while continuing to teach at Mississippi.