Peter C. Pihos

Spring 2018 Class Hours:

Mon/Thu – 1:10 pm to 2:25 pm
Tue/Fri – 1:10 pm to 2:25 pm

Office Hours:



Peter C. Pihos, Visiting Assistant Professor of History, specializes in African American History, with a focus on the law and politics of criminal justice.

His research examines political struggles over race, crime, and policing, and their role in the legal, political, social, and economic transformation of American metropolises over the last half century. In particular, he is interested in the intersection of activism against crime and against police brutality and corruption.

Pihos’s book manuscript, Black Power through Law: The Afro-American Patrolmen’s League and the Struggle for Justice, challenges popular wisdom about the relationship between crime, policing, and politics during the second half of the twentieth century. By focusing on the perspectives and experiences of black police officers who were also activists for equality, the book offers a history of alternatives to the common opposition between fighting crime and police reform. Examining these officers’ efforts, and their partial success, remaps the relationship between local black movements, the rise of economic austerity, and the expansion of punitive policing. Police acceptance of certain demands for equality was integrally related to their development of increasingly intensive policing of African Americans in response to fiscal and social crises. Pihos’s dissertation, on which the book is based, won Honorable Mention for the Michael B. Katz award for best dissertation in urban history.

Prior to graduate school in history, he earned a J.D. from New York University School of Law and clerked from the Honorable Diane P. Wood of United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in New York. He has also been involved liberal arts educational alternatives, teaching at Deep Springs College in Spring 2014 and the Arete Project in Summer 2016.

Selected Publications


“Black Power through Law: Race, Policing, and Politics in Chicago” (manuscript)


“Where is Crime in the History of the Carceral State?” Journal of Urban History (forthcoming)

“History of Crime and Punishment in America, 1970-Present.” Social History of Crime and Punishment in America, ed. Wilbur Miller (2012)

“The Racial Politics of Urban Street Gangs,” Journal of Urban History (2011)

Research Interests

African American History; Crime, Punishment and Policing; Civil Rights and Black Power; Critical Political Economy; Race and the Law.