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Personal Profile

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Kim Nalley is a history scholar with a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., from University of California, Berkeley.

A specialist in US history and Late Modern Europe, with an emphasis on cultural, transnational, globalization, women’s and African American and African Diasporic history, Professor Nalley completed her dissertation in 2021 under renowned scholars Waldo Martin, Tyler Stovall, Daniel Sargent and Ugo Nwokeji. Titled "GI Jazz: African Americans as Occupiers and Artists in Post-World War II Germany," It was nominated for the "Outstanding History Dissertation" prize 2022.  Dr. Nalley's study draws extensively upon oral history and musical/musicological analyses to investigate the differing ideas of freedom and democracy among African American GIs, the military and German audiences. Nalley's dissertation reveals a previously unresearched circuit of clubs on and around military bases, and a Black jazz scene comparable to the Black expatriate jazz scene that grew in France after World War I. She has presented her scholarship on US history and jazz and music history throughout the Bay Area, including at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Stanford University, the California Jazz Conservatory, and Google.  Her research and teaching strives to be inclusive of underrepresented and submerged voices in history.

Professor Nalley published a guide to thinking about Nina Simone, "The Show Must Go On: Kim Nalley on Nina Simone & Mississippi Goddamn," in 2020. Her paper "Losing Its Grease: Black Cultural Politics and the Globalization of Jazz'' was published in Democracy and Difference and she delivered a Keynote "I, Too, Sing America: Freedom and Democracy in Jazz" for the 21st AISNA Conference in Trento, Italy. 

Professor Nalley is also an award-winning professional jazz singer. She frequently composes music with Black history themes. She is currently full-time faculty at California State University, East Bay.

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2021 PhD

University of California, Berkeley

2015 MA

University of California, Berkeley


Oxford University, Merton College, UK

2008 BA

University of California, Berkeley

Dissertation: “GI Jazz: African Americans as Occupiers and Artists in Post-World War II Germany”

Committee:Tyler Stovall, Daniel Sargent, G. Ugo Nwokeji, Waldo Martin (Chair)

Thesis: “This Bitter Earth: Infertility in Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan” Advisor: Waldo Martin

Additional Studies in History

Thesis: “Restoration, Cromwell, and Catholic Aesthetics: The Rise and Decline of Church Organs in 17th Century England”

Tutor: Adrian Tinniswood