Postdoctoral Fellows


David Helps

2024–2026 Postdoctoral Fellow, History
PhD in History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

David Helps is an historian of policing, cities, and political economy in the U.S. and the world. His current book project, American Babel: A People’s History of Global Los Angeles, re-examines the rise of L.A. as a model “world city” between the 1970s and the turn of the new millennium. By theorizing the politics of “protection,” American Babel reveals through archival and oral history research that struggles over economic globalization intersected closely with debates about policing, crime, and safety. This research has been generously supported by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

David’s research has appeared in the Journal of Urban History, Radical Americas, and American Quarterly, and is forthcoming in two edited collections: Ecologies of Justice (Rutgers University Press, 2025); and Writing the Golden State: The New Literary Terrain of California (Angel City Press, 2024). In addition to his scholarly work, David writes regularly for public audiences in The Nation, In These Times, and the LA Review of Books, among other places. In 2024 he completed his PhD in History at the University of Michigan, where he also coordinated the Detroit as a Carceral Space initiative and published the interactive policy report Highway Robbery: How Metro Detroit Cops & Courts Steer Segregation and Drive Incarceration with the Detroit Justice Center.