I am an Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte where I teach modern U.S. political history, urban history, and the history of inequality and work. Before joining UNCC, I was the Mellon Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. I was also a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and I received my Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Virginia.
I am completing a book project, The American Way of Growth: Business, Poverty, and Development in the American Century, that recenters the history of 20th century liberalism by highlighting liberals' often naive, racially blinkered, and politically expedient reduction of the pursuit of social progress to stimulating economic growth.
By foregrounding the perspectives of local business elites and Chambers of Commerce in case studies in the urban North and the rural South, the project also challenges recent works of business history, the history of capitalism, and recent political history that take businesspeople's antistatist rhetoric at face value.
The project maps the long history of local-national, public-private partnerships, beginning in the New Deal, when local chambers of commerce enthusiastically steered public works projects toward local economic assets. Far from the result of a "neoliberal" turn in the 1970s, public-private partnerships are an enduring feature of American governance. American Way reveals how, beneath deeply rooted antigovernment tropes, local businesspeople's political-cultural worldview, which I term "business producerism," legitimized their efforts to administer and grow the twentieth century state.
American Way is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press for inclusion in its series, Politics and Culture in Modern America.
I have also begun a new book-length project, "Bootstraps Nation: A History of Work and Self-Help in Modern America." The project will broaden and deepen my interest in the popular diffusion of economic knowledge by exploring, chronologically and thematically, the dominant sites and ways of work since the Second World War. Fundamentally concerned with questions of Americans' shifting outlooks regarding work, security, and individual opportunity, the project investigates how Americans have reconciled themselves to, rejected, or sought to refashion prevailing labor regimes, including the Taylorite factory; the bureaucratic office; sites of domestic, contingent, and "emotional" labor; and into the increasingly flexible and precarious ways of "gig" work today.
Finally, I am also co-editing a volume with Lily Geismer and Mason B. Williams that seeks to develop new paradigms in postwar U.S. political history that move the field beyond partisan or ideological historical frameworks. Political History Unbound: Crisis and Continuity in 20th Century U.S. Politics brings together fifteen leading scholars from subfields outside of political history to model methodologically and topically integrated approaches to political history not easily captured by the field’s once-dominant frameworks of “the New Deal order” or “the rise of conservatism.” Scholars in many fields have identified the considerable flaws in top-down or overly partisan political history, particularly its organization by and through rather narrowly and normatively defined crises. In contrast, the volume offers vertically and horizontally integrated approaches to the study of state power, democracy, and governance that are rooted in understandings of identity, social and cultural history, and the wide variety of experiences of citizenship. The volume primarily draws upon papers presented at a symposium held October 2-3, 2015 at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. More information on the symposium is linked here. The symposium was sponsored by the Miller Center, the University of Virginia's Page-Barbour Interdisciplinary Initiatives Committee, and Boston University's American Political History Institute.
Contact me at bcebul (at) gmail.com.
In my free time, I take pictures.