Dr Kristofer Allerfeldt

Research interests

 

I research  American history  from the end of the Civil War until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Within that period my real interests lie in deviancy and bigotry. As such I work on all aspects of crime and racism, nativism and prejudice. I have published works on anti-immigrant sentiment, visions of Americanism, the Ku Klux Klan and crime in general.

At present I am teaching a second year module on crime and the birth of modern America. This explains many aspects of one side of my research. The course examines such issues as how it was that while growing into the world's leading economic power America also sets its course as the leading prison state, incarcerating more of its population than any other country. It also looks at why this period saw what has been known as the Black Holocaust. Why it was that in these years considerable numbers of the nation' s black population were routinely subjected to torture, mutilation and murder at the hands of white vigilantes while the federal government seemed powerless to act. It examines the emergence of the gangster, cowboy and bank robber as popular hero - looking at such figures as Jesse James, Al Capone and John Dillinger. The course also looks at the snake-oil salesmen, conmen, counterfeiters and corrupt politicians, who selling hope, miracle cures, elixiers and influence, define this period of unrestrained capitalism just as clearly as the better known Robber Barons. 

Another aspect of crime touched on in this course forms the other strand of my current research. In the section of the course which deals with terrorism, the module examines such groups as the Molly Maguires, the Industrial Workers of the World and, that most iconic of American of terror groups, the Ku Klux Klan. Currently I am researching the Klan's ties with fraternity and how that contributes to our understanding of why the Klan in the 1920s attracted anything up to 10 million Americans.

 

Research collaborations

At present I am working with a variety of other academics. With regard to my work on the KKK, I am working with American Masonic historians, as well as my own PhD student, Miguel Hernandez. My work on organized crime is also to some extent collaborative, and I am working with the Michael Woodiwiss at UWE as well as my PhD student Kay Firth-Butterfield on trying to re-interpret early twentieth century depictions and manifestations of organized crime.