Andrew Needham

Associate Professor of History

University of Michigan, PhD 2006.

Office Address: 

King Juan Carlos Center, Room 711



Field of Study: 

United States

Areas of Research/Interest: 

I specialize in recent United States history, with teaching and research emphases in environmental, American Indian, and urban and suburban history as well as the history of the American West.

Research Description:

Post-1945 US history, urban and suburban history, environmental history, southwestern and borderlands history, American Indian history, comparative social movements, history of the built environment, spatial change.


My forthcoming book, Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest (Princeton University Press, Fall 2014) explores the interconnected transformation of Phoenix and the Navajo Nation in the years after World War II. In those years, Phoenix changed from a small agricultural center into a sprawling metropolis with over 1.5 million residents while multiple coal mines, power plants, and electrical transmission lines were built on Navajo land. Examining the development of these two very different landscapes, Power Lines tells the story of the far-reaching environmental and social inequalities of metropolitan growth, and the roots of our contemporary coal-fueled climate change crisis.

I am currently beginning work on two new projects. The first, Engineering Sustainability: Nature and Technology in Urban America, examines the historical relationship between understandings of urban sustainability and the development of infrastructures intended to supply cities’ material demands for drinking water, waste removal, developable land, and recreational space that connected urban populations with distant landscapes made available for their use. The second, When Animals Ran the City: The Nature of Work in New York, explores the central role of animals (horses, pigs, dogs, and oysters) as workers that performed essential city services in the 19th century, and investigates both the ways in which work changed and the fate of working animals as their work was increasingly marginalized in the 20th century.

Selected Works:


"'A Piece of the Action': Navajo Leadership, Energy Development, and Decolonization," in Exploitation and Opportunity: Indians and Energy in the Southwest. Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press, forthcoming.

“The End of Public Power: “Tax Fairness” and the Politics of the Electric Utility Industry,” in What’s Good for Business: Business and Politics since World War II. Kimberly Philips-Fine and Julian Zelizer, eds. Oxford University Press, 2012.

 “Sunbelt Imperialism: Boosters, Navajos, and Energy Development in the Metropolitan Southwest,” in Sunbelt Rising: The Politics of Place, Space and Region in the American South and Southwest. Michelle Nickerson and Darren Dochuck, eds. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.

“Beyond the Metropolis: Metropolitan Growth and Regional Transformation in Postwar America,” with Allen Dieterich-Ward. Journal of Urban History 35:7 (2009), 943-969. (Winner of the Urban History Association Award for best article of 2009)

"Power Lines: Urban-Hinterland Exchange and Indian Nationalism in the US Southwest ," in Exchange: Practices and Representations. Paris: University Paris-Sorbonne, 2005.


Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

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Updated on 10/27/2015