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 the inaugural postdoctoral fellow at the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, and is currently an assistant professor of American history at Sam Houston State University.
His research 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 in numerous journals, including Church History, 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, as well as a half-dozen edited collections.
Dr. Park’s first book, American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in an Age of Revolutions, appeared with Cambridge University Press in January 2018. It examines how local contexts influenced ideas of nation and union during the fifty years following independence. How did citizens in a new nation conceive of political union and disunion in an age in which notions of the “nation” itself were under transformation? Americans scrambled to project an image of united states, often drawing from intellectual currents that crossed the Atlantic world, yet those very projections served to introduce new political divisions. American Nationalisms traces the contours of this significant story, and demonstrates how debates over America’s cultural boundaries have been central to the country’s nationalist project since the beginning.
Much of Dr. Park’s work has focused on how one particular group, the Mormon religion, has fit within the larger context of cultural inclusion and exclusion. His second book, Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier, which will appear with W. W. Norton/Liveright in February 2020, is a microhistory of how one community tested the boundaries of democratic rule. More details can be found on the current projects page. He is also currently editing A Companion to American Religious History for Wiley-Blackwell.
Dr. Park has become a national voice for issues concerning American religion and politics. He has written op-eds and essays for Washington Post, Newsweek, Religion & Politics, Talking Points Memo, Religion Dispatches, Dallas Morning News, Salt Lake Tribune, Religion News Service, and Patheos. (You can find links on the online writing page.) His interviews have appeared in popular podcasts like 99% Invisible, Brave Little State, and Meaning of Life, as well as radio programs like NPR, RadioWest, Australia Broadcast Corporation’s NightLife, and BYU Radio’s Top of Mind. He also maintains a personal blog where he highlights recent scholarship, discusses pedagogy, and otherwise reflects on history, religion, and politics.
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. He now serves as a member of the Mormon History Association’s executive committee, the Board of Directors for Dialogue, as well as the program committee for the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic’s 2019 annual conference.