College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Shelby Callaway

Graduate Student
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American, Indigenous, and Environmental History. Advised by Paul Kelton. Dissertation Title: "Wahunsonacock’s Gambit: Powhatan Foreign Relations and the Success of Virginia, 1570-1646." 


Callaway earned his M.A. in history in 2009 from Valdosta State University with major fields in American and Indigenous History. He entered the Ph.D. program at KU with an emphasis on American History, Indigenous, and Environmental History. Before studying history, Callaway earned an MPA from the University of Georgia in 2006 and worked as a local government auditor and park ranger for the State of Georgia.

Callaway’s dissertation, Wahunsonacock’s Gambit: Powhatan Foreign Relations and the Success of Virginia, 1570-1646 is an ethnohistorical examination of the early-contact Chesapeake that focuses on how the political, cultural, and economic realities facing the expanding Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom of Tsenacommacah led its leader Wahunsonacock to engage with, rather than ignore or exterminate, the newly arrived English colonists at Jamestown. By looking closely at the political complexity of the indigenous Chesapeake, his dissertation argues that Tsenacommacah’s sophisticated foreign policy unintentionally engendered the success of English colonialism in Virginia.

Callaway received KU’s University Graduate Fellowship and spent 2012-2013 researching at the Library of Congress. He has been an Assistant Instructor for Indigenous North American History at the University of Kansas and Early US History at Valdosta State University.  He has also been a GTA for various other courses, including Conspiracies and Paranoia in American History. Callaway is advised by Dr. Paul Kelton and expects to complete his Ph.D. requirements by 2014.

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