Joseph Yanielli

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Joseph Yanielli

Joseph Yanielli is the son of Len Yanielli. He works in the History department at Yale.


Before coming to Yale Joseph Yanielli studied history and politics at Wesleyan University and comparative fascism and utopian literature at the University of Oxford. My current research explores the international dimensions of American history.

His dissertation is a transatlantic, comparative history of antislavery encounters in nineteenth-century Africa and America. At its core is the human drama of the Mendi Mission. A daring extension of the Underground Railroad into the hinterland of West Africa, the mission became a key frontier of action and imagination in the global contest over chattel slavery. The world we occupy today was forged in this contest, and as David Brion Davis put it: there is “no better window on the issues of power and exploitation, on outsiders and insiders, on the construction of race, on the expansion of the Euro-American West, on the early stages of consumer-driven economies, and on the promise and limitations of social reform.”

I am also interested in memory and historical narrative, and I lead a study group entitled “History from Below,” which explores grassroots perspectives on the past.

His advisor is David Blight.


Before coming a graduate student at Yale, Yanielli studied American History at Wesleyan University and comparative fascism and utopian literature at the University of Oxford. His BA thesis examined grassroots anti-slavery activism and the intense, often violent, reaction it aroused in the North prior to the Civil War. His yale research focused on the origins of the abolitionist movement, slavery, politics and violence[1].

YCL connection

In Joe Yanielli was a supporter of the Young Communist League USA[2];

Because of its focus on broad-based coalitions and its ability to draw people together across a wide spectrum of issues, the growth of the Young Communist League will be crucial for preventing the Right’s “new McCarthyism.? Progressive groups must unite around a clear organizational mission – something conservative activists realized long ago. But we cannot do it alone. Studies show that the majority of students today consider themselves neither conservative nor progressive. Both sides have ignored this “centrist? population – but they must be mobilized. We need to build strong YCL clubs in our areas to organize and educate young people around issues that impact them everyday...