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. In addition to publications in leading scholarly journals such as the Journal of American History (forthcoming 2018) and American Quarterly, my writing has appeared in The New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Atlantic's CityLab. 

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.

Cleveland, Ohio's civic elite at a 1955 ground breaking for a federally funded public housing project, the Woodhill Homes. Construction of the housing project enabled the city's public and private leadership to use the powers of eminent domain to evict disproportionately minority homeowners and tenants from properties considered ripe for commercial redevelopment.  (Image from CSU's Cleveland Memory Project)

Cleveland, Ohio's civic elite at a 1955 ground breaking for a federally funded public housing project, the Woodhill Homes. Construction of the housing project enabled the city's public and private leadership to use the powers of eminent domain to evict disproportionately minority homeowners and tenants from properties considered ripe for commercial redevelopment.  (Image from CSU's Cleveland Memory Project)

By foregrounding the perspectives of local business elites and Chambers of Commerce in case studies in the urban North and the rural, urbanizing 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.

State senator and businessman Jimmy Carter organized civic and business elites in his region of rural Georgia to secure University-based "technical assistance" for local businesses, but mainly to maximize federal spending. The Commission, which he founded, also oversaw regional War on Poverty funding. (Image from Jimmy Carter Presidential Library)

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.

Faced with minority and poverty groups administering federal aid through the War on Poverty, business associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce moved quickly to lobby the Johnson administration to restore elite control over generous federal spending programs. Responding to local officials like Chicago mayor Richard Daley as well as frustrated local businesspeople, the Johnson administration, not the Nixon or Ford administrations, began deregulating the War on Poverty. As an Atlanta banker put it before a small city Georgia chamber, private enterprise is “the keystone to all we have.” It is “the country’s provider.” It is "no longer a democracy when we are governed by minority interests . . . When those who pay no tax use their vote to dictate how the taxes are spent.” (Image from Hagley Museum and Library's Digital Archive)  

Faced with minority and poverty groups administering federal aid through the War on Poverty, business associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce moved quickly to lobby the Johnson administration to restore elite control over generous federal spending programs. Responding to local officials like Chicago mayor Richard Daley as well as frustrated local businesspeople, the Johnson administration, not the Nixon or Ford administrations, began deregulating the War on Poverty. As an Atlanta banker put it before a small city Georgia chamber, private enterprise is “the keystone to all we have.” It is “the country’s provider.” It is "no longer a democracy when we are governed by minority interests . . . When those who pay no tax use their vote to dictate how the taxes are spent.” (Image from Hagley Museum and Library's Digital Archive)  

I have also begun preliminary work on a new book project that will extend my interests in social and spatially grounded approaches to economic history, the history of inequality, and political economy. The project will explore the modern history of lobbying in America from the perspective of key actors, including the National Rifle Association, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). But, the narrative will be grounded in a metropolitan history of greater Washington, D.C. since the 1970s, tracing both the emergence of K-Street as a lobbying mecca as well as the results of these lobbying efforts in diverse community case studies in and around the nation’s capital. These cases will explore the gun trade and gang violence; suburbanization and the iniquitous racial and ethnic origins and outcomes of the mortgage crisis; and the consequences of the decline of localism wrought by ALEC’s production of model legislation.

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.