Melisa Nobles

Melissa Nobles

Chancellor

Professor of Political Science

Comparative Politics; identity; transitional / retrospective justice; violence; Brazil; US South.

Biography

Melissa Nobles is Chancellor and Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Her current research is focused on constructing a database of racial murders in the American South, 1930–1954. Working closely as a faculty collaborator and advisory board member of Northeastern Law School's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice law clinic, Nobles has conducted extensive archival research, unearthing understudied and previously unknown racial murders, and contributing to several legal investigations. She contributes to the U.S. national dialogue about racial equity through thoughtful research-based commentaries that draw on her scholarship in the field.

Chancellor Nobles is a graduate of Brown University where she majored in history. She received her MA and PhD in political science from Yale University. She has held fellowships at Boston University's Institute for Race and Social Division and Harvard University's Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study. She has served on the editorial boards of Polity, American Political Science Review, and Perspectives on Politics. Nobles has also been involved in faculty governance at MIT and beyond, serving as associate chair of the MIT Faculty from 2007 to 2009, and vice president of the American Political Science Association.

More at the Chancellor's office website .

Research

Professor Nobles' teaching and research interests are in the comparative study of racial and ethnic politics, and issues of retrospective justice. Her first book, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics (Stanford University Press, 2000), examines the political origins and consequences of racial categorization in demographic censuses in the United States and Brazil. Her second book, The Politics of Official Apologies, (Cambridge University Press, 2008), comparatively examines the political uses of official apologies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. At present, Prof. Nobles is conducting research for a third book manuscript that will analyze the prospects for "transitional justice" in the American south. This book, and related projects, proposes to include the southern region of the United States in the comparative study of democratization and transitional justice. For a variety of reasons, which the book will examine, the south is not often included in comparative study.

Recent Publications

"Democratic dilemmas of census categorization in the post-civil rights era," in How Public Institutions Assess Identity Claims, ed. Avigail Eisenberg and Will Kymlicka. University of British Columbia Press, in press.

"The Prosecution of Human Rights Violations," Annual Review of Political Science, (2010) 13:165-82.

The Politics of Official Apologies .New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

"Reparations Claims: Politics by Another Name," Political Power and Political Theory, (2007) 18:253-258.

"The Myth of Latin American Multiracialism," Daedalus, (2005) 82-87.

"Lessons from Brazil: The Ideational and Political Dimensions of Multiraciality," in The New Race Question: How the Census Counts Multiracial Individuals, ed. Joel Perlmann and Mary Waters, New York: Russell Sage Foundation press. (2002).

"Racial Categorization and censuses," in Census and Identity: The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Language in National Censuses, ed. David I. Kertzer and Dominique Arel. Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Teaching

17.50 Introduction to Comparative Politics
17.523 Ethnic Conflict in World Politics
17.504 Ethnic Politics I
17.516 Transitional Justice

News

Putting ideas into action

Richard Byrne Technology Review

MIT’s new chancellor laid a foundation for leadership through her groundbreaking research on politics and racial justice.

Scene at MIT: MIT welcomes Chancellor Melissa Nobles

Stephanie Tran Division of Student Life

Nestled between buildings 12, 13, 24, and 31 is the North Corridor, an area coined as the “Outfinite” by students, where members of the MIT community gathered for an Institute community social hosted by President L. Rafael Reif to welcome MIT’s new chancellor, Melissa Nobles. After about 18 months of virtual Zoom meetings, for many it was their first time seeing and reconnecting with friends and colleagues.

Melissa Nobles named MIT’s next chancellor

Peter Dizikes MIT News

MIT has announced that its next chancellor will be Melissa Nobles, an accomplished scholar who has led the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences since 2015.

Biography

Melissa Nobles is Chancellor and Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Her current research is focused on constructing a database of racial murders in the American South, 1930–1954. Working closely as a faculty collaborator and advisory board member of Northeastern Law School's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice law clinic, Nobles has conducted extensive archival research, unearthing understudied and previously unknown racial murders, and contributing to several legal investigations. She contributes to the U.S. national dialogue about racial equity through thoughtful research-based commentaries that draw on her scholarship in the field.

Chancellor Nobles is a graduate of Brown University where she majored in history. She received her MA and PhD in political science from Yale University. She has held fellowships at Boston University's Institute for Race and Social Division and Harvard University's Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study. She has served on the editorial boards of Polity, American Political Science Review, and Perspectives on Politics. Nobles has also been involved in faculty governance at MIT and beyond, serving as associate chair of the MIT Faculty from 2007 to 2009, and vice president of the American Political Science Association.

More at the Chancellor's office website .

Research

Professor Nobles' teaching and research interests are in the comparative study of racial and ethnic politics, and issues of retrospective justice. Her first book, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics (Stanford University Press, 2000), examines the political origins and consequences of racial categorization in demographic censuses in the United States and Brazil. Her second book, The Politics of Official Apologies, (Cambridge University Press, 2008), comparatively examines the political uses of official apologies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. At present, Prof. Nobles is conducting research for a third book manuscript that will analyze the prospects for "transitional justice" in the American south. This book, and related projects, proposes to include the southern region of the United States in the comparative study of democratization and transitional justice. For a variety of reasons, which the book will examine, the south is not often included in comparative study.

Recent Publications

"Democratic dilemmas of census categorization in the post-civil rights era," in How Public Institutions Assess Identity Claims, ed. Avigail Eisenberg and Will Kymlicka. University of British Columbia Press, in press.

"The Prosecution of Human Rights Violations," Annual Review of Political Science, (2010) 13:165-82.

The Politics of Official Apologies .New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

"Reparations Claims: Politics by Another Name," Political Power and Political Theory, (2007) 18:253-258.

"The Myth of Latin American Multiracialism," Daedalus, (2005) 82-87.

"Lessons from Brazil: The Ideational and Political Dimensions of Multiraciality," in The New Race Question: How the Census Counts Multiracial Individuals, ed. Joel Perlmann and Mary Waters, New York: Russell Sage Foundation press. (2002).

"Racial Categorization and censuses," in Census and Identity: The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Language in National Censuses, ed. David I. Kertzer and Dominique Arel. Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Teaching

17.50 Introduction to Comparative Politics
17.523 Ethnic Conflict in World Politics
17.504 Ethnic Politics I
17.516 Transitional Justice

News

Putting ideas into action

Richard Byrne Technology Review

MIT’s new chancellor laid a foundation for leadership through her groundbreaking research on politics and racial justice.

Scene at MIT: MIT welcomes Chancellor Melissa Nobles

Stephanie Tran Division of Student Life

Nestled between buildings 12, 13, 24, and 31 is the North Corridor, an area coined as the “Outfinite” by students, where members of the MIT community gathered for an Institute community social hosted by President L. Rafael Reif to welcome MIT’s new chancellor, Melissa Nobles. After about 18 months of virtual Zoom meetings, for many it was their first time seeing and reconnecting with friends and colleagues.

Melissa Nobles named MIT’s next chancellor

Peter Dizikes MIT News

MIT has announced that its next chancellor will be Melissa Nobles, an accomplished scholar who has led the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences since 2015.