Kevin Kenny is Professor of History at Boston College. His principal area of research and teaching is the history of migration and popular protest in the Atlantic world. His latest book, Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn's Holy Experiment (2009), explains how Pennsylvania's early religious tolerance and social harmony disintegrated during the eighteenth century, with disastrous consequences for the province's Indians. Covering the period from Pennsylvania's foundation in the 1680s to its dissolution during the American Revolution, the book traces the emergence of intensifying forms of colonialist expropriation, from the flawed utopian vision of the founder, through the rapacious avarice of his sons, the French and Indian War, and Pontiac's War, to the consummation of a harsh new order during the Revolution. At the heart of the story is the extermination of the last twenty Conestoga Indians by a group of frontier settlers known as the Paxton Boys.
Professor Kenny's earlier work concentrated on the history of Irish migrants in the Atlantic and British imperial worlds. His first book, Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998), examined how traditions of agrarian protest in nineteenth-century Ireland were translated into an American industrial setting. His second book, The American Irish: A History (2000), offered an interpretive survey of Irish migration to North America from 1700 to the present, including the Irish preconditions to mass emigration and questions of labor, social mobility, religion, race, gender, politics, and nationalism among the Irish in the United States. He is also the author of a short pictorial history, The Irish: Towards the U.S.A., published in Italy as Gli irlandesi che hanno fatto l'America (2006) and contributing editor of Ireland and the British Empire (Oxford University Press, 2004), a collection of historical essays that launched the Companion Series to the five-volume Oxford History of the British Empire.
He is currently researching various aspects of migration and popular protest in the Atlantic world and laying the groundwork for a long-term project investigating the meaning of immigration in American history.