Ashley Serpa

Ashley Serpa Portrait

Position Title
PhD Candidate, Modern US History

One Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616


  • BA in History, University of California, Santa Cruz (2011)
  • MA in History, San Jose State University (2015)


My dissertation, tentatively entitled Shadow Diplomacy: The United States, the Portuguese Empire and the Cold War, 1961-1974, examines diplomacy in the shadows of State Department orthodoxy by narrating the stories of other state and non-state groups invested in the diplomatic process. Shadow Diplomacy argues that historically marginalized, minimized and misunderstood actors not only demanded their place in the diplomatic process, they defined the exigencies of the Cold War. This dissertation challenges Cold War historiography in several ways. First, it reveals the centrality of Portugal's empire to the most crucial of Cold War battles, including: anti-communism, authoritarianism, civil rights, decolonization and the role of Congress and intelligence agencies. Second, it moves Cold War history away from elite policymakers. Third, it reinforces the primacy of a transnational approach to the study of history, something for which Portuguese historians have long called.

Research Focus

Major Field: U.S.

Minor Field: World

Focus: Cold War foreign policy and intelligence; political and transnational history; U.S. and Portugal during the Guerra do Ultramar (Portuguese Colonial War), 1961-74


Prison University Project, San Quentin State Prison

Co-Instructor, HIS 102: Post-Civil War US, Spring semester 2019

Designated History Tutor, Fall semester 2015

University of California, Davis

Graduate Student Researcher: Davis Humanities Institute, Fall 2018 and Spring 2019; Institute for Social Sciences, Fall 2017

Reader: History 134A: The Age of Revolution, Spring 2019

Lectures: American Studies 10: The Neoliberal University, March 2019

Teaching Assistant: American Studies 10: Intro to American Studies, Winter 2019; History 17A: Early US, Winter 2017 and Spring 2018; History 17B: Modern US, Spring 2017 and Winter 2018; History 174CD: US after WWII, Spring 2016

San Jose State University

History 170 Lecture: Populism & Progressivism, World War I and Peace & Prosperity, June 2016

History 170 Lecture: American Imperialism, June 2016

History 170 Lecture: Cold War, Civil Rights Movement and JFK & LBJ, June 2015

History 170 Lecture: Great Depression & New Deal, World War II and the Home Front, June 2015

History 181 Lecture: Civil Rights Movement, June 2014


Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Educational Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2019-2020

Fulbright US Student Study/Research Award, Portugal, 2019-2020 declined

Michigan State University Libraries Travel Grant, 2019

Oberlin College Frederick B. Artz Summer Research Grant, 2019

JFK Library Foundation Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Fellowship, 2019

LBJ Presidential Foundation Moody Research Grant, 2019

Dirksen Congressional Center Research Grant, 2018

Herbert Hoover Presidential Foundation Research Grant, 2018

UCD History Department Emile G. Scholz Prize for Most Outstanding 2nd Year Paper, 2017

UCD History Department Research Fellowship, Spring 2017

UCD History Department Reed-Smith Research Award, Summer 2016

UCD Provost’s Fellowship in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, 2015-2016

SJSU History Department James H. High Memorial Scholarship, 2015

SJSU History Department Mildred Gentry Winters Graduate Scholarship, 2015

SJSU McLaughlin Fellow, 2013-2014