This fall Max Felker-Kantor joins us on the tenure-line as an Assistant Professor of History. He teaches courses in twentieth-century American and African American history with a focus on race, politics, and social movements. He is particularly interested in the policies and institutions of urban law enforcement and criminal justice systems since World War II. His articles and book chapters have been published in the Journal of Urban History, Journal of Civil and Human Rights, Boom California, Black and Brown Los Angeles: A Contemporary Reader, the Pacific Historical Review, and the Casden Annual Review. Dr. Felker-Kantor’s first book, Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2018. Currently, he is researching schools, inner-city policing, and the D.A.R.E. program.

What was your journey to Ball State?

Before coming to Ball State as a contract faculty member in 2018 (this is actually my third year at Ball State!). I taught at DePauw University and Marian University. Prior to that, I completed my PhD in 2014 at the University of Southern California and moved to Indianapolis shortly thereafter.

Dr. Max Felker-Kantor, Assistant Professor of History

How would you describe your perspective on teaching?

My approach to teaching is student-centered and stresses active learning. In my classes, I strive to promote student participation and believe that teaching and learning is not a one-way process that goes from professor to student. Rather, it is a conversation and one that requires students to think critically and actively participate in the learning process. I also see teaching as part of helping students to see them as active citizens who ask questions, think critically about the world around them, and make change in the present.

Are you currently working on any projects?

My first book, Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD is a study of policing and antipolice abuse movements in Los Angeles between the 1960s and the 1990s. My new book project is a history of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program and the war on drugs. I am interested in the ways the D.A.R.E. program helped broaden the war on drugs and integrate into schools through the use of police officers as teachers.

What has teaching History taught you?

Teaching history has taught me that we are all part of history and that it is part of all our lives and identities. So often we think that history is about the past and that it is unchanging. However, learning and teaching history shows us that history constantly changes because of how our perspective on the past changes based on our present conditions. When we argue about the meaning of the past, then, we are really arguing about the present. So history is about the past but it’s about our identities in the present as well. Finally, a central lesson from teaching and learning history is that people make history (and choices) every day but not under the conditions of their own choosing. And the same goes for us in the present.

What are your hobbies/interests? 

I enjoy running, hiking, and hanging out with my (and my partner’s) dog, Dudley.

What are you currently reading if anything?

I am currently reading a book by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law called Prison by Any Other Name, which is a study about the failures of prison reform.