My name is Kathleen (Kate) Alfin and I am a Ph.D. candidate in African history. I also completed a minor in Environmental History through the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) at UW-Madison.
My dissertation, “‘An Exceptional Situation:’ Race, Sex, and the U.S. Army in Liberia, 1942-1946,” examines the deployment of a predominantly Black American army unit to Liberia during the Second World War. The racial make-up of U.S. Army Forces in Liberia (UASFIL) coupled with the unique socio-racial landscape of the historic Black republic unsettled racial, gender, sexual, and class “norms” and hierarchies both in the U.S. Army (particularly as they related to policies regarding segregation and sex) and Liberia. This created what USAFIL’s minority white leadership called “an exceptional situation.” Using this notion of “exceptionalism” as a heuristic lens, I analyze interactions between Black and white American soldiers and Liberian men and women relative to other contemporary civil-military contexts. My dissertation demonstrates how competing imperial logics of race, gender, and sexuality shaped relations between American soldiers and Liberians during the war, as well as U.S. Army policies to police these. In doing so, my research provides an “exceptional” case study for rethinking power relations between militaries and societies, transnational racial, gender, and sexual politics, and race, nation, and empire more broadly.
M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison (African History)
M.S., Troy University (International Relations)
B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison (History)
- African History
- “‘Uncle Sugar’s Belles:’ Liberian Sex Workers and the U.S. Army in the Second World War”
Working Dissertation Title
- “‘An Exceptional Situation:’ Race, Sex, and the U.S. Army in Liberia, 1942-1946”
- “’Uncle Sugar’s Belles:’ Liberian Women and the U.S. Army’s Program of Tolerated Prostitution in World War II Liberia,” Radical History Review Issue 146, “Political Imprisonments and Confinements” (forthcoming May 2023).
- Review of Contract Workers, Risk, and the War in Iraq: Sierra Leonean Labor Migrants at US Military Bases by Kevin J.A. Thomas. H-War, H-Net Reviews. May 2019.
- “A Firsthand Account of Finding Nature on a U.S. Military Base.” Edge Effects. February 27, 2018.
- Review of The Nature of Whiteness: Race, Animals, and Nation in Zimbabwe by Yuka Suzuki. African Studies Review, Volume 60 no. 2 (2017): 239-240.
- Review of Welcome to Greater Edendale: Histories of Environment, Health, and Gender in an African City by Marc Epprecht. Canadian Journal of African Studies/Revue canadienne des études africaines, Volume 51 no. 2 (2017): 332-334.
- Omar N. Bradley Historical Research Fellowship (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017)
- Phi Kappa Phi Peter L. Zhu Scholastic Achievement Award (2020)
- West Point Department of History Excellence in Teaching Award (2020)
- Faculty Research Funding, United States Military Academy (2020 and 2019)
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of History Research Travel Grant (2019)
- Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Summer 2016)
- African Studies Association
- American Historical Association
- Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society
- The Society for Military History
Courses Taught (as Instructor)
- History 101 – “Army of the Republic: Leading Citizen Soldiers” (United States Military Academy, West Point, NY)
- History 108a – “Regional Studies in World History-Africa” (United States Military Academy, West Point, NY)
- History 158a – “Advanced Regional Studies in World History-Africa” (United States Military Academy, West Point, NY)
- History 345 – “Modern Africa” (United States Military Academy, West Point, NY)