Kris  Klein Hernández

Kris  Klein Hernández

Assistant Professor of History

Joined Connecticut College: 2022

A.B., Bowdoin College
M.A., University of Texas, El Paso
Ph.D., University of Michigan


Borderlands History

Comparative Ethnic Studies

U.S. History

Comparative Racialization

Kris Klein Hernández is a U.S. historian of race, gender, and sexuality whose scholarship is located at the nexus of borderlands history and comparative ethnic studies.  He specializes in comparative racialization, militarization, and sexuality in the long 19th century, with a focus on the geography of the U.S.-Mexico boundary.  He teaches courses on 19th century U.S. history; borderlands history; Vast Early America; settler colonialisms; comparative ethnic histories; U.S. imperialism and empire; and sexuality from the early republic to the present.

He is currently finishing up his first book project, The Color of the Army: Forts and Race-Making in the Nineteenth-Century U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, a cultural history of American militarization from the U.S. war with Mexico to the first World War.  It examines how the built environments of military forts—comprised of federal infrastructures and the workers among them—affected Mexicans, freed African Americans, and Native peoples residing within their orbits, causing cultural and material change through Texas, the New Mexico Territory, and Mexico. The Color of the Army argues that 19th-century militarization was a settler colonial project, and illustrates how soldiers and officers at border garrisons engaged in processes of comparative racialization with the populations of color they observed in and surrounding the fort. 

The Color of the Army attends to how Congress initially plotted over a hundred military bases in Texas and the New Mexico Territory on Indigenous lands and parcels that Spanish land grants claimed.  It first analyzes the architecture of these forts and how Native and Mexican populations built fort adobe buildings and brought foodstuffs to U.S. fortifications.  It then measures how these spaces changed over time to the era when Euro-American architects began to alter fort buildings with concrete.  As the garrison built-environments changed, so too did race relations.  The Color of the Army shows how martial infrastructures challenged and reshaped racial tensions among freedpeople, Diné/Apache/Tigua Indian communities, Mexicans, and army personnel through the 19th century.

His research has received funding from the Ford Foundation; Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History; Yale University’s Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity & Transnational Migration; Institute for Citizens & Scholars; the Social Science Research Council; and the Organization of American Historians.  He received his Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in History from the University of Texas, El Paso, and his A.B. in Latin American Studies cum laude and Spanish from Bowdoin College.  Prior to arriving at Connecticut College, he taught at Harvard University, Yale University, and Bowdoin College.


Sample of Courses Taught


  • Borderlands History
  • 19th-Century America
  • Settler Colonialisms
  • American Sexualities
  • American Wests
  • U.S. Latinx History
  • Native American History
  • Slavery, Sex, and Racial Capitalism


Contact Kris  Klein Hernández

Mailing Address

Kris  Klein Hernández
Connecticut College
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320