Alvita Akiboh

Alvita Akiboh's picture
Assistant Professor
On Leave: 
Fall 2024
HQ 241
Fields of interest: 

United States; U.S. imperialism; Caribbean; Pacific; material culture; nations and national identity

Alvita Akiboh (pronunciation) is a US historian specializing in the history of US overseas colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific. She earned her PhD in History from Northwestern University and BA in History from Indiana University. Before coming to Yale, Akiboh was a postdoctoral fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows.
Akiboh’s first book Imperial Material: National Symbols in the US Colonial Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2023) tells the story of how objects laden with US national symbols—flags, money, and postage stamps—became an arena in which contests over national identity played out in the US colonial empire from the turn of the twentieth century to the post-WWII era of global decolonization. In these overseas colonies occupying the tenuous space between foreign and domestic, these seemingly mundane objects became central for both US imperialists who sought to establish and maintain US colonial rule and for people living in the colonies who made claims to belonging, resisted US rule, and used these symbolic objects to articulate their own understanding of their relationship to the United States.
Imperial Material won the Myrna F. Bernath Book Award from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). Advance praise describes it as a “vividly written,” “original and compelling,” “ambitious and deeply researched work of scholarship” that “covers uncharted territory in the historiography of American empire and empire more broadly.” You can listen to Akiboh speak about Imperial Material on the New Books Network podcast.
Akiboh has conducted research throughout the continental United States and the overseas territories, including American Samoa, Guam, Hawai‘i, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. She has published in Diplomatic History and Modern American History. Her work has been supported by a variety of organizations, including the American Historical Association, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and National Museum of American History.
At Yale, Akiboh teaches courses on US history, national identity, colonialism, and empire. Please check for current offerings.
Selected Awards
  • Myrna F. Bernath Book Award (2024)
  • Harold Perkin Prize for Best Dissertation (2019)
  • Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award (2018)
Southeast Asia
Empires & Colonialism
Race & Ethnicity