Personal profile

Overview

I am a historian of economic life, focusing on urban political economy and business history in Europe. My work on private development in urban environments aims to add to our understanding of the spatiality of human life by exploring how global processes are transformed and contested in the local production of social space. As a historian of capitalism, I focus on the cultural context of business practices in order to investigate and emphasize the role of moral economies in the structure and functioning of economic systems. I am interested in the study of economic life as a lens for questioning the status of the economy and the market in our contemporary historical moment.

 

Biography

Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, I completed my undergraduate studies at Smith College, undertaking honours work in the history of early modern Britain. A year abroad at Trinity College, Dublin brought conversion to the study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century France. I received my MA in history from the University of Toronto and a PhD from the University of Chicago. My doctoral work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the French embassy’s Bourse Chateaubriand, and the Quinn Foundation. I held postdoctoral fellowships as a Prize Fellow in Economics, History, and Politics at the Center for History and Economics at Harvard University and a Mellon/Newton Interdisciplinary Fellow at the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities at Cambridge. In 2020 I was a fellow at the National Humanities Center, USA. 

Research interests

Modern European history; the cultural and social history of France; urban history; history of economic life.

My first book, Selling Paris: Property and Commercial Culture in the Fin-de-siècle Capital, chronicles the politics, people, and practices that turned city-making into a business in late-nineteenth-century Paris. It foregrounds transformations in property development that led to a period of tremendous urban growth as well as underwrote a quintessentially modern metropolitan culture. My research on real estate continues in a volume on real estate and global urban history, currently in preparation for Cambridge University Press.

My current research explores the social history and microfoundations of financial modernity in nineteenth-century France. I study how the stock market came to be understood as a quotidian element of French citizens’ economic lives in the nineteenth century and how this understanding changed throughout the twentieth. Mass investment is not a natural or straightforward phenomenon; it is a political and cultural as much as economic project. Financial markets were made not in the realm of economic theory, nor by the natural imperatives of capital, but by the investment manuals, commercial information circulars, traveling stock and bond salesman, and the material form of stock certificates and exchange districts, all of which contributed to establishing a consumer marketplace for financial instruments. This project aims to create a history of finance from below, exploring how popular engagement with the financial sector redefined the relationship between citizens, the market, and the state, as well as provided a means for ordinary individuals to reconceptualize their roles as actors in a global political-economic system.

Prizes and awards

 

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Modern European History, University of Chicago

Master of Arts, History, University of Toronto

External positions

Research Associate, Center for History and Economics, Harvard University

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute

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