Greetings! [updated December 2022]

My name is Andy Urban. I use this site to share research and writing, exhibits, teaching materials, and other projects I’m involved in as a professor (along with the occasional hiking photo). Since 2010, I’ve been a member of the American Studies and History departments at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.


My first book, Brokering Servitude: Migration and the Politics of Domestic Labor during the Long Nineteenth Century, was published by New York University Press in 2018. Brokering Servitude examines how labor markets for domestic service were shaped and governed by philanthropists, missionaries, commercial offices, and the state, and how workers responded to and resisted attempts to restrict their freedom of movement and contract during the period from 1850 to 1924.

My current book project focuses on the history of Seabrook Farms, a frozen foods agribusiness and company town in southern New Jersey that recruited incarcerated Japanese Americans, guestworkers from the British West Indies, and European Displaced Persons and stateless Japanese Peruvians during the 1940s and 1950s. My research on Seabrook Farms is also the subject of an online exhibition hosted by the New Jersey Digital Highway, which I curated with Rutgers’ students in 2015-16, and the focus of a 2018 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute that focused on how to incorporate histories of incarceration, relocation, and resettlement during the World War II era into K-12 curriculum. In the spring 2021, I worked with the Seabrook Educational and Cultural Center to host two public meetings that invited stakeholders to address how content, programming, and community collaborations might better capture this historic site’s complex and layered histories.

SECC Flyer 2021 Meetings

I am currently directing the New Brunswick/North Brunswick High Schools Public Memory Project, a collaboration between community stakeholders, scholars, and artists focused on the creation of public programming and art that explores histories of school segregation in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the township of North Brunswick, and in Middlesex County. This project is being launched in advance of 2024, which will mark the fiftieth anniversary of a landmark New Jersey State Supreme Court decision that permitted approximately 700 white students from the township of North Brunswick (and later, Milltown) to withdraw from New Brunswick High School and reenroll in newly created, nearly all-white suburban schools.

I am working with coLAB Arts and other project team members to conduct oral histories that will be archived online, and digitally annotated to provide additional historical context, background, and perspective. These oral histories will also inform the design and creation of a community mural that commemorates and critically interprets the events that took place in 1974. As a work of public art, stakeholders will help imagine a mural that grapples with difficult questions about race relations, student conflict, white flight, and the changing demography of New Brunswick and surrounding areas, in the past and present. Working together, students, artists, scholars, and community stakeholders will have the opportunity to creating a critical memorial to a difficult event with lasting implications, and to create public art and history that challenges the public to ask tough questions about the meaning of education, equality, and segregation in the present.

During the 2022-23, I also have the honor of participating in the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis’s seminar on “Repairing the Past.”

My academic writing has appeared in the Journal of Asian American Studies, Journal of American Ethnic History, Journal of American History, Journal of Policy History, Gender and History, The Public Historian, Radical History Review, and American Studies. My opinion pieces have appeared in the Washington Post, Newark Star-Ledger, South Jersey Times, Public Radio International, and Inside Higher Ed. I’m currently serving as a member of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society’s Executive Board and chair of its Digital Projects Committee, and as Vice President of the New Brunswick chapter of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT union.


All this professional stuff aside, it’s been a bit of a trip the last couple years… during the spring 2019, I held Fulbright Fellowship in American Studies at the University of Klagenfurt in Austria, where I worked with students on the history of Displaced Persons and camps in the province of Carinthia, and how post-World War II refugee histories might be made part of Austrians’ public memory. On July 31, 2019, my wife Helena and I welcomed Isaac bach, who spent his first four months of life in Fishguard, Wales. Since October 2020 we’ve been back in Brooklyn.

When not working or dadding, I enjoy walking and biking around Brooklyn and Manhattan. I’m known to have tricked unsuspecting friends into almost ridiculously long walks. I also like hiking. Secretly, I hope you are more impressed with my hiking photos than my academic CV.


Overlooking Newgale Beach, Pembrokeshire, July 2022.


On a bike!


Garn Fawr, Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire, Wales


Cow policing Austrian/Slovenian border near Golica.


The smoke-filtered view from Cameron Pass. Olympic National Park, August 2018.

Colby Pass, the High Sierra.

Colby Pass, the High Sierra.


North Cascades, Washington

In May 2016, I spent an amazing two months working as a Term VI Visiting Professor at Deep Springs College, in Inyo County, California.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s