Professor of Sociology, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Director of the Women's Studies Research Center


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Field of Specialty

Sociology of gender, class & race/ethnicity; families and kinship; historical sociology; community studies.

Contact Information

Pearlman Hall 209

Personal Web Page

Karen V. Hansen

Professor Karen V. Hansen combines sociology and history in her research and teaching. Her latest book, ENCOUNTER ON THE GREAT PLAINS: SCANDINAVIAN SETTLERS AND THE DISPOSSESSION OF DAKOTA INDIANS, 1890-1930, has received support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and won the 2016 Chaudhuri Book Prize from the Western Association of Women Historians. ENCOUNTER explores life on a remote Indian reservation in the early twentieth century where Scandinavians began homesteading, with the sanction of the U.S. government. In effect, they dispossessed Dakota Sioux while living as their neighbors ON the reservation. Based on oral histories with elders and analysis of landownership records, the book explores the land taking and in its wake, the coexistence of two profoundly different peoples as they sought to maintain their language, practice their culture, and honor loyalties to more than one nation.

Professor Hansen’s scholarship also focuses on contemporary families. She authored NOT-SO-NUCLEAR FAMILIES: CLASS, GENDER, AND NETWORKS OF CARE, which received the William J. Goode Book Award, Honorable Mention, and was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award. Combining theoretical frameworks and rich empirical accounts, she has edited two anthologies with Anita Ilta Garey, AT THE HEART OF WORK AND FAMILY and FAMILIES IN THE U.S.


Hansen, Karen V.. "Entangled Encounters and the Oral Archive: Notes from the Field." Concurrent Imaginaries, Postcolonial Worlds: Toward Revised Histories. Ed. Diana Brydon, Peter Forsgen, and Gunlög Fur. Amsterdam: Brill Academic Publishers, 2017. 183-202.

Hansen, Karen V.. "Gendered Entanglements: Dakotas and Scandinavians at Spirit Lake, 1887-1930." Women's History Review (2017): 1-16.

Hansen, Karen V., Ken Chih-Yan Sun, and Debra Osnowitz. "Immigrants as Settler Colonists: Boundary Work between Dakota Indians and White Immigrant Settlers." Ethnic and Racial Studies (2016).

Hansen, Karen V. with Grey Osterud. "Landowning, Dispossession, and Land Use among Dakota and Scandinavian Women at Spirit Lake, 1900-1929." Gender and History 26. 1 (2014): 105-127.

Hansen, Karen V.. "Breaching Boundaries and Dowsing for Stories on the Great Plains." Open to Disruption: Time and Craft in the Practice of Slow Sociology. Ed. Rosanna Hertz, Margaret K. Nelson, and Anita Garey. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2014. 100-117.

Hansen, Karen V. Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Anita Ilta Garey and Karen V. Hansen. "Introduction: An Eye on Emotion in the Study of Families and Work." At the Heart of Work and Family: Engaging the Ideas of Arlie Hochschild. Ed. Anita Ilta Garey and Karen V. Hansen. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011. 1-14.

Hansen, Karen V. "Land Taking at Spirit Lake: The Competing and Converging Logics of Norwegian and Dakota Women, 1900-1930." Norwegian-American Women: Migration, Communities, and Identities. Ed. Betty Berglund and Lori Ann Lahlum. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011. 211-245.

Hansen, Karen V. "The Asking Rules of Reciprocity." At the Heart of Work and Family: Engaging the Ideas of Arlie Hochschild. Ed. Anita Ilta Garey and Karen V. Hansen. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011. 112-123.

Hansen, Karen V. and Ken Chih-Yan Sun. "Localizing Transnational Norwegians: Exploring Nationalism, Language, and Labor Markets in Early Twentieth-Century North Dakota." Norwegian-American Essays, 2011 13. (2011): 73-107.

Hansen, Karen V., co-ed. Anita Ilta Garey, ed. At the Heart of Work and Family: Engaging the Ideas of Arlie Hochschild. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011.

Hansen, Karen V. "The Powers of Parental Observation: Constructing Networks of Care." Who's Watching? Daily Practices of Surveillance Among Contemporary Families. Ed. Margaret K. Nelson and Anita Ilta Garey. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009. 175-191.

Hansen, Karen V. and Mignon Duffy. "Mapping the Dispossession: Scandinavian Homesteading at Fort Totten, 1900-1930." Great Plains Research 18. Spring (2008): 67-80.

Hansen, Karen V. Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and Networks of Care. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005.

Hansen, Karen V. "The Asking Rules of Reciprocity in Networks of Care for Children." Qualitative Sociology 12. 4 (2004): 421-437.

Hansen, Karen V., co-ed. Anita Garey. Families in the U.S.: Kinship and Domestic Politics. Temple University Press, 1998.

Hansen, Karen V. "‘No Kisses Is Like Youres’: An Erotic Friendship between African-American Women During the Mid-Nineteenth Century." Gender and History 7. 2 (1995): 153-182.

Hansen, Karen V. A Very Social Time: Crafting Community in Antebellum New England. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Hansen, Karen V., co-ed. Ilene Philpson. Women, Class and the Feminist Imagination: A Socialist-Feminist Reader. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1990.

Courses Taught

GSAS 301d Interdisciplinary Prospectus Seminar
HIST/SOC 216a Migration, Dislocation and Dispossession in North American History
SOC 130a Families, Kinship and Sexuality
SOC 131b Biography, Gender, and Society
SOC 199b Senior Capstone Seminar: Sociology in the World
SOC 210b Gender, Class, and Race
SOC 300a Approaches to Sociological Research
WMGS 208b Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Scholarship Seminar