American Studies
American Studies

Betsy Beasley


Core FacultyPh.D., Yale University

Assistant Professor
Betsy Beasley

Contact

Interests


U.S. cultural, social, and political history; history of capitalism; environmental studies; the U.S. and the world; gender and sexuality; geography and urban studies; public and digital humanities

Biography


Betsy Beasley grew up in central Georgia and attended The University of Georgia, where she earned a B.A. in history. After graduation, she lived in New York City before beginning her PhD program in American Studies at Yale University. While at Yale, she split her time between New Haven and Philadelphia, where she dissertated over tofu hoagies and not-quite-New-York bagels. After she finished her PhD, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center and a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In fall 2018, Professor Beasley joins the American Studies Department at UT Austin. Professor Beasley is the co-host and co-creator of Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast and the Book Review Editor at Enterprise and Society.

 

Research Interests

Professor Beasley is an interdisciplinary scholar of empire, capitalism, and the environment. She is interested in how labor politics and business strategy intersect with energy production and environmental justice; the ways in which local urban space shapes and is shaped by global forces; the culture and politics of labor, particularly service work; and the multidirectional intersections of capitalism, race, gender, and state formation in the twentieth century.
 
Publications & Scholarly Awards
Professor Beasley is currently finishing her first book manuscript, Expert Capital: Houston and the Making of a Service Empire, under contract with Harvard University Press. Expert Capital examines the intellectual and economic development of the globally integrated economy through the lens of the oilfield services industry. The book argues that oilfield services executives promoted a new ideology of American internationalism that envisioned the U.S. not as a center of manufacturing and production but as a white-collar headquarters serving the world through its provision of expertise. This corporate strategy and its accompanying ideology provided a way for U.S.-based firms to maintain cultural and economic power in an era of postcolonial nations’ rising political strength. In a moment when U.S. oil resources drastically diminished, exporting oil expertise offered a triumphalist explanation for the U.S. transition from an industrial to a post-industrial economy. The book follows the industry’s highest executives, its domestic and international blue- and white-collar employees, oil consumers at home and abroad, and international business and government officials to uncover the collaborations and negotiations that extended the industry’s reach across the globe and helped to cement the United States—and Houston in particular—as its international headquarters. While oil companies struggled over the ownership of the world’s oil reserves, oilfield services companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger forged a form of capitalism that escaped state oversight and slipped through national boundaries. Capitalizing on expertise remade both capitalism and U.S. foreign relations. 
 
Professor Beasley has published on the history of labor, business, gender and sexuality, cities, and international relations in Diplomatic History, Radical History Review, Urban History Review, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, The American Historian, and Public Seminar. Her dissertation was awarded the Honorable Mention for the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations’ Betty M. Unterberger Dissertation Prize. She was a recipient of the Miller Center National Fellowship from the University of Virginia and the John E. Rovensky Fellowship in U.S. Business and Economic History, and her work has been supported with funding from the American Historical Association, the New Orleans Center for the Global South at Tulane University  the Coca-Cola World Fund, and multiple research libraries.

Courses


AMS 370 • Energy And Us Capitalism

31157 • Spring 2019
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BUR 436A

Does economic growth depend on production of cheap energy? Are the interests of the environment necessarily contrary to the interests of making money? Do jobs in the energy industry sustain communities or destroy workers’ bodies? These are the questions at the heart of much contemporary discussion about climate change in the United States and beyond. From promoting “green jobs” to debating “clean energy,” Americans are constantly grappling with the relationship between energy and the economy. 

 

This course explores the multiple intersections between the history of energy and the history of capitalism in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the period since 1945. Using secondary texts as well as primary documents, film, photographs, and fiction, this course will interrogate the relationship between energy – oil, coal, natural gas, solar and wind energy – and the American economy. We will focus on four primary questions: How has the production of energy shaped American economic growth? How have energy companies shaped social and cultural life at home and abroad? How do workers in the energy industry understand the costs and benefits of their jobs? And how have American consumers thought about their consumption of energy? Throughout, we will pay careful attention to how race, gender, and sexuality have intersected with the politics and the culture of energy. 

AMS 370 • Global Cities In The U.S.

31159 • Spring 2019
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BUR 436A

What is a “global city”? Journalists and social scientists alike argue that the global city is a recent invention of the 1990s, brought into being by new technologies, the end of the Cold War, and new immigration legislation. Characterized by transnational residents, dramatic socioeconomic stratification, economic connections between international marketplaces, and high levels of tourism and real estate speculation, the global city is, according to these commentators, a radically new form of urbanism. In this course, we will complicate this narrative by taking a longer view of the global city. In addition, we will seek to examine how placing global cities at the center of our analysis changes our understanding of both urban history and the history of U.S. global power. 

 

Our readings in this course seek to understand the relationships between the local and the global from the mid-nineteenth century through the present. To examine these relationships, we will concentrate on four distinct but overlapping questions: How have the structure and culture of workin the United States been influenced by transnational developments, including war, immigration, and the relocation of jobs? How have cities served as centralized sites for the movement of money, and how can we read these business functions in the landscape? How has U.S. global power been represented culturallyin urban space? 

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