Grad Conference

Welcome to the APHI Graduate Conference page, where you can find information about the 12th Annual Graduate Student Conference in American Political History, including a program of events and conference flyer. This year’s theme is “Making the American City” and will feature a keynote speech “The Unhappiest Place on Earth: The Family Economy in the American Century” delivered by Robert Self (Brown University).

Making the American City

March 20 – 21, 2020

Boston, MA

Keynote Speaker:

Robert O. Self, Mary Ann Lippitt Professor of American History and 

Department Chair, Brown University


Friday March 20th 2020

George Sherman Union | Room 310

775 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA 02215

Panel One: 9.00am – 10.15am Early American Cities

CHAIR: Gregory Tirenin, Boston University

Donovan Fifield, University of Virginia

“Finance, War, and Urban Political Crisis in the British-American Northeast, 1739–1768”

Courtland Ingraham, George Washington University

“The First American City”

Amy Smith, University of New Hampshire

“The Power of the Pew”

COMMENT: Andrew Robichaud, Boston University

BREAK: 10.15am – 10.30am

Panel Two: 10.30am – 11.45am Suppression, Resistance, and Organizing in the Postwar American City

CHAIR: Cari Babitzke, Boston University

Marc Arenberg, The Ohio State University

“The Murder of Richard Heakin: Antigay Violence and Queer Community in Tucson, Arizona”

Andrew Olden, University of Missouri – Columbia

“Paying the Price: The Food Desert in the Pruitt-Igoe Housing Complex”

Kyle Stelzer, University of Maryland – College Park

“A New Year’s Pipe Bombing: Residential Segregation, White Homeowner Identity, and Black Civil Rights Organizing in 1970s New York City”

COMMENT: Ella Howard, Wentworth Institute of Technology

LUNCH: 11.45am – 12.15pm

Panel Three: 12.15pm – 1.45pm Histories of Conflict, Exclusion, and Control in

American Cities

CHAIR: Jamie Grischkan, Boston University

Brigitte Dale, Yale University

“A Capitol Offense: Protest, Pageantry, and the Democratizing Force of Urban Feminist Demonstration”

Caitlin Fendley, Purdue University

“Population Control Begins at Home: Urban Stress Tests and the Effects of Overpopulation on American Cities”

Andrew Grim, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

“Newark’s High-Impact Anti-Crime Program: De-centering Police in the Era of Mass Incarceration”

Kenneth Wohl, The State University of New York at Stony Brook 

“Agriculture over Labor: How the New Deal Reinforced an Agricultural Bias”

COMMENT: Heather Schoenfeld, Boston University

BREAK: 1.45pm – 2.00pm

Panel Four: 2.00pm – 3.30pm Whose City is It? – Forming and Contesting Identities in Urban and Suburban Spaces

CHAIR: Cole Parker, Boston University

Kerry Green, Brandeis University

“‘Tread Softly, this is Consecrated Dust’: Space, Gender, and Politics at Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Arsenal”

Crystal Jing Luo, University of Virginia

“‘We have seen the enemy and he looks like us’: Urban Renewal and the Asian American Movement in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, 1969–1977”

Aron Ramirez, Yale University

“Business as Usual: Metropolitan Commerce and the Making of a Mexican American Middleclass Suburb”

COMMENT: Andrew Pope, Harvard University

BREAK: 3.30pm – 3.45pm

Panel Five: 3.45pm – 5.15pm Policing the Spaces of the American City

CHAIR: J. Seth Anderson, Boston University

Kenneth Alyass, Harvard University

“Eight Mile Frontier: Law and Order Politics and Suburban Separatism”

Kelsey Ensign, Vanderbilt University

“Finding the Line Between Punishment and Rehabilitation: Alcoholic Citizenship in 1960s Urban America”

Bryan Kessler, University of Mississippi

“‘Don’t Let Them Monkey with Our Pure Water’: Antifluoridation Activists, Public Health Administrators, and the Battle Over Bull Run’s Watershed, 1955–1985”

Gillet Rosenblith, University of Virginia

“Tenant Management as Defensible Space: When Empowerment Became Criminalization in Public Housing”

COMMENT: Robert O. Self, Brown University

BREAK: 5.15pm – 5.30pm

KEYNOTE: 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Robert O. Self, Brown University

“The Unhappiest Place on Earth: The Family Economy in the American Century”

RECEPTION: 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Hosted by Boston University Initiative on Cities | 75 Bay State Road, Boston MA 02215

Saturday March 21st 2020

Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering

610 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA 02215

Panel Six: 10.30am – 12.00pm Redefining the Postwar American City

CHAIR: Johnathan Williams, Boston University

Elizabeth Barahona, Northwestern University

“Black and Latinx Coalition-Building in the Urban South”

Kelly Goodman, Yale University

“The Detroit Cases: Urban Fiscal Crisis and State School Finance Reform”

Kyle VanHemert, University of Delaware

“‘What a Citizen Sees Every Day Is His America’: Natural Beauty, Man-Made Ugliness, and the Aesthetic Origins of Postwar Environmental Politics”

COMMENT: Sarah T. Phillips, Boston University

LUNCH: 12.00pm – 12.45pm

Panel Seven: 12.45pm – 2.00pm Politics, Reform, and Social Control in the City from the Progressive Era to the New Deal

CHAIR: Henry M. J. Tonks, Boston University

Ian Gavigan, Rutgers University

“Municipal Socialists Against the New Deal: Struggles Over the City in Reading, Pennsylvania, 1927–1939”

Jamie Marsella, Harvard University

“‘Better Babies. Better Mothers. Better City.’: The Babies Welfare Association and the Better Babies Contest”

Mackenzie Tor, University of Missouri – Columbia

“Prohibition in Black and White: Temperance and Race in the American South, 1890–1920”

COMMENT: Bruce J. Schulman, Boston University

BREAK: 2.00pm – 2.15pm

Panel Eight: 2.15pm – 3.45pm Imagining and Reimagining the American City

CHAIR: Sean Case, Boston University

Jeffrey Berryhill, Rutgers University

“We Are as Proud of Our Gayness as We are of Our Blackness: Gay Men of African Descent and the Social and Political Mobilization of Black Gay Men in New York City”

Adam Tomasi, Northeastern University

“Battlefield Streets: ‘Black Mask,’ Anarchism and Counterculture in Sixties New York”

Oscar Winberg, Abo Akademi University

“The Lovable Bigot from Queens: Debating Racism, Liberal Satire, and Archie Bunker”

COMMENT: Kate Jewell, Fitchburg State University

PAPER AWARD and GOODBYE: 3.45pm – 4.00pm

Travel Information

Transportation to Boston

Boston University is located on the “B” Green line near Kenmore Square.  The MBTA extensively covers the Boston metropolitan area, making travel around the city and its suburbs easy and quick.  For a map and more information see:

By Plane: 

Boston University is easily accessible from Logan Airport by the Metro System.  Once you arrive in at Logan, take a shuttle labeled “Blue Line” to the blue line metro station and get on an inbound train.  Take the inbound train to the “Government Center” stop and there you will switch to the green line.  Take the “B” Green line outbound, this line will be labeled destination “Boston College.”   Take this train to the Boston University East Exit.

By train or bus:

Boston University is easily accessible from South Station, where both trains and buses arrive.  A variety of bus and train lines travel to Boston from New York, Providence, and many other cities.  Once you arrive at South Station, get on the red metro line and take two stops to Park Street Station.  There you will switch to the green “B” line outbound to Boston College.  Take this train to the Boston University East Exit.

If you would like information about a nearby hotel, please email us or contact the Hotel Buckminster at