Benjamin E. Park
Assistant Professor of History
Sam Houston State University
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Benjamin Park received degrees from Brigham Young University (BA English and history), the University of Edinburgh (MSc Theology in History), and the University of Cambridge (MPhil Political Thought and Intellectual History, PhD History). He spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, and is currently an assistant professor of American history at Sam Houston State University.
His scholarship mostly focuses on the intersection between religion, culture, and democratic thought between the American Revolution and the Civil War, often within an Atlantic context. His scholarship has appeared or will appear in journals including Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Studies, Journal of American Studies, American Nineteenth-Century History, Journal of Religion and Society, Journal of Mormon History, and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.
He recently completed a full manuscript, titled “American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in an Age of Revolutions,” 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 now currently working on two book manuscripts that explore the boundaries between religion, democratic culture, and politics during the antebellum period. The first project examines the democratic and religious thought of those individuals associated with the antebellum literary and philosophical movement known as Transcendentalism. The second book project looks at the Mormon city-state of Nauvoo, Illinois, 1839-1846, as a case study of democratic discontent and the perils of disestablishment. More details can be found on the current projects page.
An active participant in the fields of early American political and religious history, Dr. Park has been involved with a number of activities and associations. He is the founder and editor of The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History, a premier digital space for the field, and is also one of the founding editors of Juvenile Instructor: A Group Blog on Mormon History. He currently serves as an 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 has served on editorial boards for Journal of Mormon History and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and was a co-chair of the Mormon History Association‘s annual conference in 2016, an event which drew around 800 attendees and include academics, amateurs, ecclesiastical leaders, and other interested participants. Between 2017 and 2020, he will serve as a member of the Mormon History Association’s executive committee.
Dr. Park maintains a personal blog where he highlights recent scholarship, discusses pedagogy, and otherwise reflects on history, religion, and politics. He has written op-eds and essays for Religion and Politics, Talking Points Memo, Religion Dispatches, Religion News Service, and Patheos, and you can find links on the online writing page.