Arch Dalrymple III Department of History PhD Candidate Monica Campbell has recently been awarded a Dissertation Year Fellowship for the 2020-21 academic year from the Truman Library Institute in Independence, Missouri. This fellowship will allow her to focus solely on completing her dissertation.
Campbell’s dissertation, “Slums Are Our Most Expensive Luxuries”: Little Rock’s MetroPlan and the Making of the Neoliberal City, 1939-1980,” uses a case study of urban renewal efforts in Little Rock to show how neoliberal urban planning policies began to challenge the reigning Keynesian liberal model as early as the 1950s, not in the 1970s, as scholars currently contend. While other scholars have focused on well-studied, large cities like New York, where urban planners oversaw massive projects with explicit social purposes, her research uses a rich but neglected set of archival sources in Little Rock to show how smaller cities in the South and West experimented at the same time with business-centric plans that jettisoned moral concerns for market considerations. Although these market-based policies echoed contemporary critics like Milton Friedman and Martin Anderson, they reflected a reinterpretation of liberalism, not a wholesale rejection of it. In a period characterized by white flight and suburbanization, by the making of “ghettos” and divestment from the inner city, this reinterpretation sought to harness business and pro-growth politics to revitalize city centers together with state anti-labor policies that would inform the emergence of third-way liberalism in the 1970s. Campbell’s dissertation argues that, although on the national periphery in the 1950s, Little Rock’s urban renewal policies helped redefine the center ground of American political economy twenty years later.
Campbell has also recently received a travel grant from the Friends of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries and will be presenting a paper at the 2020 Policy History Conference.