Postdoctoral Fellow, Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy
Department of History, University of Missouri
215 Read Hall, Columbia, MO 65211
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Benjamin Park received his PhD in history from the University of Cambridge and studies early American history. His scholarship mostly focuses on the intersection between religion, culture, and democratic throught between the American Revolution and the Civil War, often within an Atlantic context. He has published a number of articles in journals including Early American Studies, Journal of American Studies, American Nineteenth-Century History, and Journal of Religion and Society. He is completing a book manuscript, titled “The Interests of America: Cultivations of Nationalism in the Early Republic, 1783-1833,” which examines how local contexts influenced ideas of nation and union during the fifty years following independence. By focusing on three states—Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina—and by using tools from postcolonial theory to understand the ambiguities and anxieties of cultural expression, the book engages how conceptions of power and sovereignty were produced, consumed, and determined at a local level. Further, the manuscript situates these debates within an Atlantic framework that includes similar discussions taking place in Britain, France, and Germany at the same time.
Dr. Park is also currently working on a book manuscript that examines the democratic and religious thought of those individuals associated with the antebellum literary and philosophical movement known as Transcendentalism. This project, tentatively titled “Transcendental Abolition: European Philosophy, American Thought, and Definind Democracy in the Nineteenth Century,” engages the political theologies of key Bostonian figures in the 1840s, especially Caroline Healey Dall, Theodore Parker, Elizabeth Peabody, Margaret Fuller, and Orestes Brownson, and explores what their arguments reveal about American and European conceptions concerning abolition, secularism, race, citizenship, and democratic theory. Further, the manuscript aims to make a theoretical point concerning the balance of religious ideals and emocratic practice that has been central for America’s political tradition, and its focused inclusion of female authors seeks to demonstrate the gendered dimensions of a typically male-dominated historiography.
Mormon history was Dr. Park’s entrypoint into the historical profession, and he maintains an interest in examining early Mormonism’s relationship to antebellum religious belief and practice. He has served on editorial boards for Journal of Mormon History and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and currently serves as associate editor for the Mormon Studies Review, an interdisciplinary academic review journal that focuses on reviewing scholarly books on Mormonism for a broad academic audience. He is co-chair of the Mormon History Association‘s annual conference in 2016, an event that will draw around 800 attendees that include academics, amateurs, ecclesiastical leaders, and other interested participants.
Dr. Park is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri, where he teaches courses in the history department and helps arrange lectures, seminars, and other events associated with the Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy.