Benjamin Madley

Benjamin Madley

Core Faculty

Associate Professor

History | Native American History, California and Oregon Indians, Genocide and American Indians, Unfree Native American Labor, Colonial Genocide and Indigenous peoples.

Office: 5371 Bunche



Benjamin Madley is an historian of Native America, the United States, and colonialism in world history. Born in Redding, California, he spent much of his childhood in Karuk Country near the Oregon border where he became interested in relations between colonizers and Indigenous people. Educated at Yale and Oxford, he writes about Native Americans as well as colonialism in Africa, Australia, and Europe, often applying a transnational and comparative approach. 

Madley has authored or co-authored twenty journal articles and book chapters. His articles have appeared in journals ranging from The American Historical Review, California History, European History Quarterly, and the Journal of British Studies to the Journal of Genocide Research, Pacific Historical Review, and The Western Historical Quarterly.

Yale University Press published his first book, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873. Madley is currently co-editing The Cambridge World History of Genocide, Volume 2: Genocide in the Indigenous, Early Modern, and Imperial Worlds, 1535-1914 (forthcoming, 2023), with historians Ned Blackhawk, Ben Kiernan, and Rebe Taylor. His current research explores Native American migration and labor in the making of the United States.




History Ph.D., Yale University, 2009
History M.Phil, Yale University, 2005
History M.A., Yale University, 2005
History M.Stud., Oxford University, 1995
History B.A., Yale University, 1994

Selected Publications


An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016; paperback, 2017). Forthcoming in French with Les Éditions Albin Michel


“California Unbound: Redefining the ‘End’ of Unfree Labor in the Pacific World and Beyond,” California History (forthcoming, 2023), co-authored with Professor Edward Dallam Melillo of Amherst College.

“California’s First Mass Incarceration System: Franciscan Missions, California Indians, and Penal Servitude, 1769-1836,” Pacific Historical Review 88:1 (January 2019), 14-47. 

“Genocide in the Golden State: A Response to Reviews by William Bauer, Jr., Margaret Jacobs, Karl Jacoby and Jeffrey Ostler,” Journal of Genocide Research 19:1 (March 2017), 154-163. 

“Understanding Genocide in California under United States Rule, 1846-1873,” The Western Historical Quarterly 47:4 (Winter 2016), 449-461.

“Reexamining the American Genocide Debate: Meaning, Historiography, and New Methods,” The American Historical Review 120:1 (February 2015), 98-139. 

“‘Unholy Traffic in Human Blood and Souls:’ Systems of California Indian Servitude under U.S. Rule,” Pacific Historical Review 83:4 (November 2014), 626-667.

“California’s Yuki Indians: Defining Genocide in Native American History,” The Western Historical Quarterly 39:3 (Autumn 2008), 303-332. 

“From Terror to Genocide: Britain’s Tasmanian Penal Colony and Australia’s History Wars,” Journal of British Studies 47:1 (January 2008), 77-106. 

“From Africa to Auschwitz: How German South West Africa incubated ideas and methods adopted and developed by the Nazis in Eastern Europe,” European History Quarterly 35:3 (July 2005), 429-464. 

“Patterns of Frontier Genocide, 1803-1910: The Aboriginal Tasmanians, the Yuki of California, and the Herero of Namibia,” Journal of Genocide Research 6:2 (June 2004), 167-192. 


“Introduction,” co-authored with Ben Kiernan and Rebe Taylor, in Ben Kiernan, series ed., Ned Blackhawk, Ben Kiernan, Benjamin Madley, and Rebe Taylor, volume eds., The Cambridge World History of Genocide, Volume II: Genocide in the Indigenous, Early Modern and Imperial Worlds, c.1535 to World War One (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, 2023), 1-20.

“‘Too Furious’: The Genocide of Connecticut’s Pequot Indians, 1636-1640,” in Ibid., 215-242.

“‘A War of Extermination’: The California Indian Genocide, 1846-1873,” in Ibid., 412-433.

“The Third Vector: Pacific Pathogens, Colonial Disease Ecologies, and Native American Epidemics North of Mexico,” in James Beattie, Ryan Tucker Jones, and Edward Dallam Melillo, eds., Migrant Ecologies: Environmental Histories of the Pacific World (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2022), 68-85.

“The Genocide of California’s Yana Indians [Revised and Expanded],” in Samuel Totten, ed., Centuries of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2022), 12-53.

“California Indians,” in Jon Butler, ed., Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021):…

“California and Oregon’s Modoc Indians: How Indigenous Resistance Camouflages Genocide in Colonial Histories,” in Andrew Woolford, Jeff Benvenuto, and Alexander Laban Hinton, eds., Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), 95-130. 

“The Genocide of California’s Yana Indians,” in Samuel Totten and William S. Parsons, eds., Centuries of Genocide: Essays and Eyewitness Accounts (New York: Routledge, 2012), 16-53. 

“Tactics of Nineteenth Century Colonial Massacre: Tasmania, California and Beyond,” in Philip G. Dwyer and Lyndall Ryan, eds.,Theatres of Violence: Massacres, Mass Killing and Atrocity Throughout History (New York: Berghan Books, 2012), 110-125. 

“When ‘The World Was Turned Upside Down’: California and Oregon’s Tolowa Indian Genocide, 1851-1856,” in Adam Jones, ed., New Directions in Genocide Research (New York: Routledge, 2011), 170-196.