Samuel Truett

Associate Professor

Photo: Samuel Truett

Phone: (505) 277-6210
Office: Mesa Vista 2097


B.A., Anthropology, University of Arizona, 1988
M.A., History, Yale University, 1992
Ph.D., History, Yale University, 1997

Research Interests:

North American Borderlands, U.S. West and Mexico, Environmental History, Indigenous America, Comparative Frontiers and Borderlands, British and U.S. Empires


Professor Truett is a historian of U.S.-Mexico and continental North American borderlands, with associated interests in environmental history, histories of empires and indigenous peoples, and comparative histories of frontiers and borderlands in global context. He is currently working on two new book projects. The first explores the global nineteenth century through the travels and entanglements of a British-adventurer-turned-Mexican-peasant-villager and his global cohort—a story that links England, Borneo, Bengal, New England, California, the China Seas, Australia, South America, the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, and the broader horizons of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans into a border-crossing history of the world. The second project explores the fascination with indigenous and imperial “ruins” and “lost worlds” on the borderlands of European and U.S. expansion, west across North America and south into Latin America from the sixteenth century forward—asking how “frontier” visions of novelty and progress were tangled up with alternative borderland narratives of American antiquity and loss.

Professor Truett has helped build scholarly networks at UNM around the Newberry Consortium in American Indian History (based at the Newberry Library, in Chicago) and Ted Turner’s New Mexico ranches. In this latter effort, he has developed new collaborations at UNM (among the humanities, sciences, and social sciences) and with other borderlands institutions (NMSU, ASU, Arizona), to develop a more robust understanding of environmental history across this important North American crossroads.

Professor Truett teaches courses on the history of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, North American expansion and borderlands (from Canada to Mexico), indigenous histories of the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico, comparative (global) borderlands histories, and environmental history. He regularly works with students in both U.S. and Latin American history. He devotes his time as a teacher and scholar to helping others develop the critical tools, curiosity, and enthusiasm to make border crossings central to their own intellectual journeys.

Recent/Select Publications:

“The Borderlands and Lost Worlds of Early America,” in Contested Spaces of Early America, ed. Edward Countryman and Juliana Barr (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming)

“On Borderlands,” with Pekka Hämäläinen, Journal of American History 98:2 (September 2011), 338-61.

Fugitive Landscapes: The Forgotten History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006)

“Epics of Greater America: Herbert Eugene Bolton’s Quest for a Transnational American History,” in Interpreting Spanish Colonialism: Empires, Nations, and Legends, ed., Christopher Schmidt-Nowara and John Nieto-Phillips (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005)

Continental Crossroads: Remapping U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History, co-edited with Elliott Young (Duke, 2004)

“Neighbors by Nature: Rethinking Region, Nation, and Environmental History in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands,” Environmental History 2 (April 1997), 160-78.


Western History Association Distinguished Speakers Program, 2012-2015 Recipient

Lloyd Lewis Fellowship in American History, The Newberry Library (2008-2009)

Center for New World Comparative Studies Fellowship, The John Carter Brown Library (2008)

Bolton-Kinnaird Award in Borderlands History, Western History Association (2006)

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, The Huntington Library (2004-2005)

Snead-Wertheim Endowed Lectureship in Anthropology and History, UNM (2001-2002)

J. William Fulbright Lectureship in North American History, University of Tampere, Finland (2000-2001)

William P. Clements Research Fellowship in Southwest Studies, SMU (1997-1998)


  • U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History (Early America to Present)
  • North American Borderlands History (Early America to Present
  • History of the U.S. West
  • Environmental History
  • Indigenous History
  • Comparative Frontiers and Borderlands