Historian Hillary Jenks is an assistant professor in the University Honors Program at Portland State University whose scholarship focuses on comparative racialization and metropolitan community formation in the twentieth-century United States. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California in 2008. Professor Jenks is currently revising her award-winning dissertation into a book, Home Is Little Tokyo: Race and Metropolitan Development in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles. Using the ethnic enclave of Little Tokyo and the suburb of Gardena in Southern California as case studies, this work argues that racially inscribed spaces such as barrios, ghettos, and enclaves have been central to shaping the distinctive physical and symbolic landscapes of the metropolitan U.S. West. Her next project, The Color of the City: Urban Revitalization and Regional Identities, 1950-2010, will examine the significance of historic preservation and environmental legislation in redirecting investment capital towards central cities over the latter half of the twentieth century.
In March 2013, Professor Jenks will present her work Mervyn Dymally and the Politics of Suburban Multiracialism in Reagan-Era Southern California as part of the Faculty Lunch and Lecture Series at the Portland Center for Public Humanities.