Professor Pekka Hämäläinen

Featured Publication

The Comanche Empire (Lamar Series in Western History) (Yale University Press, 2009)

The Comanche Empire (Lamar Series in Western History)

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a Native American empire rose to dominate the fiercely contested lands of the American Southwest, the southern Great Plains, and northern Mexico. This powerful empire, built by the Comanche Indians, eclipsed its various European rivals in military prowess, political prestige, economic power, commercial reach, and cultural influence. Yet, until now, the Comanche empire has gone unrecognized in American history.

This compelling and original book uncovers the lost story of the Comanches. It is a story that challenges the idea of indigenous peoples as victims of European expansion and offers a new model for the history of colonial expansion, colonial frontiers, and Native-European relations in North America and elsewhere. Pekka Hämäläinen shows in vivid detail how the Comanches built their unique empire and resisted European colonization, and why they fell to defeat in 1875. With extensive knowledge and deep insight, the author brings into clear relief the Comanches’ remarkable impact on the trajectory of history.

  • Native American History
  • Borderlands History
  • Environmental history
  • History of empires

I am currently working on a book on the Lakota Sioux, which traces their history from the seventeenth into early twentieth century. This book is part of my larger research project, which explores the role of expansionist equestrian regimes in world history. Funded by the European Research Council, the project includes five researchers and seeks to understand nomadic regimes on their own terms, to provide a broad comparative perspective into nomadic empires, and to rethink world history from supposedly peripheral vantage points, such as grasslands, steppe world, and deserts. 

  • Lakota America A New History of Indigenous Power

  • Crooked Lines of Relevance

  • Reconstructing the Great Plains: The Long Struggle for Sovereignty and Dominance in the Heart of the Continent

  • Liberty, Equality, Power

  • The Western Comanche Trade Center: Rethinking the Plains Indian Trade System

  • The Shapes of Power: Indians, Europeans, and North American Worlds from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century

  • The Changing Histories of North America before Europeans

  • What's in a Concept? The Kinetic Empire of the Conmanches

  • La puissance oubliée des Comanches

  • The Futures of Native American History in the United States

  • More

Current DPhil Students

  • Jane Dinwoodie
  • Kathryn Olivarius
  • Natalie Hill

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding American history, especially Native American, colonial, borderlands, and environmental history

I would be willing to hear from potential Masters students looking at American history, especially Native American, colonial, borderlands, and environmental history