Dr Thomas Adams

Academic Coordinator and Lecturer in American Studies and History

Dr Thomas Jessen Adams is Lecturer in American Studies and History at the United States Studies Centre and in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry. He is the academic coordinator at USSC. His research and writing focuses on political economy, labour, social movements, urban history, and race, gender, and American politics.

Before coming to the University of Sydney he taught at Tulane University, the University of Chicago, and Indiana University Northwest.

Thomas has a BA from Tulane University, MA from the University of Chicago and PhD from the University of Chicago.

At the US Studies Centre he teaches the 3rd year capstone Seminar American Perspectives. He also teaches cross-listed American Studies courses in the History Department such as US History: From Lincoln to Obama; Law and Order in Modern America; New Orleans: Disaster, Slavery, and Culture; and the senior capstone unit History and Historians.

He is co-coordinator of the American Cultures Workshop, a fortnightly symposium focused on multidisciplinary American research.


(with Steve Striffler)  Working in the Big Easy: The History and Politics of Labor in New Orleans (Lafayette, LA: University of Louisiana Press, 2014).

Peer reviewed articles and chapters

From Moynihan to Post-Katrina New Orleans: Moral Economy, Culture, and Political Demobilization,” Nonsite, 17 (September 2015).

"Immigration Politics, Service Work, and the Problem of the Undocumented Worker in Southern California," in Marilyn Halter, et al eds., What’s New About the New Immigration (New York: Palgrave, 2014).

The Theater of Inequality,” Nonsite, 12 (August 2014).

“The Political Economy of Invisibility in 21st Century New Orleans: Security, Real Estate, and the Post Disaster City, in Romain Huret and Randy Sparks eds., Hurricane Katrina in Transatlantic Perspective (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2014).

New Orleans Brings it All Together,” American Quarterly Vol. 66 (1), March 2014.

Gender, ‘The Wire,’ and the Limits of the Producerist Critique of Urban Political Economy,” Labor: Studies in the Working Class History of the Americas, 10 (1), 2013.

Wal-Mart and the Making of Postindustrial Society?” Labor 8 (1), 2011.

“Making the New Shop Floor: Wal-Mart, Labor Control, and the History of the Postwar Discount Retail Industry in America,” in Nelson Lichtenstein ed., Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism? (New York: New Press, 2006). Reprinted and translated into Finnish language edition.  

Popular essays and op-eds: 

How the Ruling Class Remade New Orleans,” Jacobin, 29 August 2015.

A Tale of Two Katrinas,” Huffington Post, 29 August 2015

Yellin Touches Raw Nerve By Pointing Out Nature of U.S. Recovery,” The Australian, 1 November 2014.

Ferguson Violence Exposes America’s Political Decay,” The Age, 20 August 2014

Importing U.S. Model Will Be a Recipe for Disaster,” The Australian, 21 May 2014

A Letter to All of You in Sandy’s Path: Learn from What You Helped Teach the Gulf Coast,” Huffington Post, 29 October 2012.

On ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and the Demobilizing Interpretation of Postwar Protest Politics,” Huffington Post, 13 October 2011.

Thomas is teaching the following units in academic year 2019:

Areas of expertise

  • US politics and elections
  • Gender, race and religion