Robert Perkinson

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Robert Perkinson is an American historian and Professor of American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He is the author of Texas Tough: The Rise of a Prison Empire (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2010).

Education and Academic Career[edit]

Perkinson attended Jackson Hole High School in Jackson, Wyoming and graduated with honors in 1987. Between 1985-86, he participated in International Student Exchange at the Colegio Concepcion in Concepcion, Chile. At the University of Colorado at Boulder, Perkinson received his B.A. with honors in History, with a minor in Ethnic Studies in 1994. He attended Yale University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies, where he also co-founded the Student Legal Action Movement.[1] His dissertation is titled The Birth of the Texas Prison Empire, 1865-1915. He also served as a political columnist for the Boulder Weekly and editorial assistant for Critical Asian Studies in Boulder, Colorado.

Perkinson joined the American Studies department at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 2001.[2] He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in areas such as crime and punishment, Southern and Western history, race and class, and American empire.

His book, Texas Tough,[3] addresses the history of American punishment, race, economy, and politics in the United States, with an emphasis on Texas—the most locked down state in the United States.[4] The book was reviewed in many publications including The New York Times, The New Republic, Columbia Journalism Review, and Boston Globe.

In 2014, he was involved with the State of Hawai‘i's and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s efforts to host the Obama Presidential Center in Honolulu.

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2011, his book Texas Tough was awarded the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for nonfiction.[5]

November 11, 2011 was officially declared "Robert Perkinson day" in the state of Hawai'i by governor Neil Abercrombie and lieutenant governor Brian Schatz.

Recent Publications[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Student Legal Action Movement
  2. ^ American Studies
  3. ^
  4. ^ Perkinson, Robert (2010). Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire. New York: Metropolitan Books. p. 4.
  5. ^