Dr. Allyson Hobbs is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of African and African American Studies at Stanford University. She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and a contributing staff writer at The New Yorker.
In her first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, Hobbs examines the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present. A Chosen Exile won two prizes from the Organization of American Historians: the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in American history and the Lawrence Levine Prize for best book in American cultural history.
“Hobbs provides fresh analysis of an oft-ignored phenomenon, and the result is as fascinating as it is innovative. She foregrounds the sense of loss that passing inflicted, and argues that many of those who were left behind were just as wounded and traumatized as those who departed. By turning safe assumptions inside out, Hobbs questions some of the longest-held ideas about racial identification within American society.”
—Times Higher Education
A Chosen Exile has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Book TV on C-SPAN, The Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC, The Tavis Smiley Show on Public Radio International, The Madison Show on SiriusXM, and TV News One with Roland Martin. A Chosen Exile was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review, The San Francisco Chronicle, Harper’s, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Boston Globe. The book was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, a Best Book of 2014 by The San Francisco Chronicle, and a Book of the Week by Times Higher Education. The Root named A Chosen Exile one of the Best 15 Nonfiction Books by Black Authors in 2014.
In her lectures, Hobbs discusses the historical legacy of discrimination and how its influence is felt today. She gave a TEDx talk at Stanford, and has appeared on C-SPAN, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. Her work has been featured on CNN.com, Slate, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the BBC World Service, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Christian Science Monitor.
Up next, she is at work on two books—one a history of Black women’s testimonials of sexual violence in the wake of #MeToo, expanding upon her article for The New Yorker, One Year of #MeToo: The Legacy of Black Women’s Testimonies; and Far From Sanctuary: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights, which explores the violence, humiliation, and indignities that Black motorists experienced on the road during the pre-Civil Rights era. Jim Crow laws and local customs put mid-century American pleasures—taking to the road, exploring the country, enjoying the freedom to drive one’s own car—out of the reach of Black drivers. Far From Sanctuary will explore the troubled history and uncertain future of travelers of color in the US.
Hobbs graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned her PhD with distinction from the University of Chicago. She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford.
Hobbs teaches American identity, African American history, African American women’s history, and twentieth-century American history and culture. She has won numerous teaching awards, including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the Graves Award in the Humanities, and the St. Clair Drake Teaching Award. In 2017, she was honored by the Silicon Valley branch of the NAACP with a Freedom Fighter Award. In 2018, she was a juror for the Pulitzer Prize for History.
She lives in Atherton, California with her labradoodle, Clover Cleveland.