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Margaret O'Mara

Professor of History, University of Washington
Chapter Leader: Washington SSN
Areas of Expertise:
  • Science & Technology

About Margaret

O'Mara writes and teaches about the history of U.S. politics, the growth of the high-tech economy, and the connections between the two. She is the author of Cities of Knowledge (Princeton, 2005), Pivotal Tuesdays (Penn Press, 2015), and is currently working on a history of the modern high-tech revolution and its relationship with the worlds of politics and finance.

O'Mara is a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians and a past fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. She received her MA/PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA from Northwestern University. Prior to her academic career, she worked in the Clinton White House and served as a contributing researcher at the Brookings Institution.

In the News

Margaret O'Mara quoted on sanctions against Big Tech firms in Ian Sherr, "Facebook Should be Punished, not Broken Up " MSN Money, May 14, 2019.
Margaret O'Mara's research on the importance of historians discussed in Knute Berger, "Why We Need History Majors to Understand our Future," Crosscut, April 22, 2019.
"The Tech Talent is Rumbling in Silicon Valley," Margaret O'Mara, LA Times, January 2, 2019.
"A Warning From Seattle to Amazon’s HQ2," Margaret O'Mara, The New York Times, November 6, 2018.
"Winning the Amazon Sweepstakes Will Give One City a Big Boost - If It Happens the Right Way," Margaret O'Mara, Washington Post, September 20, 2017.
"The Long Game," Margaret O'Mara, First Year 2017, April 20, 2017.
"The Other Tech Bubble," Margaret O'Mara, American Prospect, February 19, 2016.
"Don’t Try This at Home," Margaret O'Mara, Foreign Policy, August 6, 2010.

Publications

Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections That Shaped the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).

Looks back at four pivotal presidential elections of the past 100 years to show how they shaped the twentieth century. During the rowdy, four-way race in 1912 between Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Eugene Debs, and Woodrow Wilson, the candidates grappled with the tremendous changes of industrial capitalism and how best to respond to them.

"The Environmental Contradictions of High-Tech Urbanism" in Now Urbanism: The Future City is Here, edited by Jeff Hou, Ben Spencer, Thaisa Way, and Ken Yocum (Routledge Press, 2015), 26-42.

Considers the history of high-tech urbanism and traces the environmental discourses embedded within it by sketching short portraits of technological spaces over time and place, from early twentieth-century Cleveland to semiconductor-era Silicon Valley to twenty-first-century Bangalore.

Cities of Knowledge (Princeton University Press, 2005).

Examines why high-tech development became so economically important late in the twentieth century, and why its magic formula of people, jobs, capital, and institutions has been so difficult to replicate.