Allison Powers Useche

Position title: Assistant Professor of History


Office: 4120 Mosse Humanities Building

Allison Powers Useche headshot


I am a legal and political historian of modern North America. My research and teaching focus on United States imperialism, the American West, U.S. Foreign Relations, and international order. I am currently writing a book about how a forgotten tradition of international legal claims against the United States transformed foreign policymaking as the nation was becoming a global power. Between 1900 and 1930, thousands of migrants to the U.S. and its territories charged the federal government with promoting forms of racialized labor coercion that violated the international norms known as the “standard of civilization.” Through attention to the consequences of their unexpected claims, the book explains why a legal framework that facilitated American imperial interventions throughout the nineteenth century collapsed during the first decades of the twentieth, prompting foreign policymakers to develop new institutions through which to project U.S. power abroad.

I hold a B.A. in History from the University of California-Berkeley and a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. Before joining the history department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was a Clements Center Fellow for the Study of Southwestern America at Southern Methodist University, an assistant professor at Texas Tech University, and a Past & Present Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in London. My research has been supported by fellowships from SMU’s Clements Center, the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the American Historical Association, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the Institute for Latin American Studies at Columbia.


Ph.D., Columbia University
B.A., University of California-Berkley

Selected Publications

  • Settlement Colonialism: Managing Empire in the United States, 1868-1965, under contract with Oxford University Press.
  • “The Specter of Compensation: Mexican Claims Against the United States, 1868-1938.” Beyond the Borders of the Law: Critical Legal Histories of the North American West. Ed. Pablo Mitchell and Katrina Jagondinsky. Kansas University Press, 2018.
  • “Gilt Trip,” review of Brahmin Capitalism: Frontiers of Wealth and Populism in America’s First Gilded Age, by Noam Maggor, Dissent Magazine (Fall 2017).
  • “Tragedy Made Flesh: Constitutional Lawlessness in Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 34:1 Special Issue on Insurgent Political Thought, Spring 2014.


  • Clements Center for Southwest Studies Fellowship, Southern Methodist University 2019-2020
  • Award for Faculty Excellence in Research and Scholarship, Texas Tech University, 2019
  • Past and Present Postdoctoral Fellowship, Institute of Historical Research, University of London 2017-2018
  • Cromwell Dissertation Prize from the American Society for Legal History, 2017
  • Bancroft Dissertation Award in American History and Diplomacy, Columbia University, 2017
  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, 2016-2017
  • History in Action Project Award from Columbia History Department/AHA-Mellon, Summer 2016
  • International Travel Fellowship from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Fall 2015
  • Littleton-Griswold Research Grant from the American Historical Association, 2015
  • Columbia Institute for Latin American Studies Summer Field Research Grant, 2015
  • Envirotech 2015 American Society for Environmental History Travel Grant, 2015
  • Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Samuel Flagg Bemis Research Grant, 2014

History Courses Taught

  • History 102 – U.S. History, Civil War to the Present (Spring 2021)
  • History 600 – Law and Legality in the American West (Spring 2021)