Assistant Professor of History
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Professor Bivar came to the history department at Wash U in 2012. She received her PhD in 2010 from the University of Chicago, where she wrote a dissertation on the history of agricultural industrialization in twentieth-century France. She then spent two years at the University of California – Berkeley, eating avocados and teaching herself economics.
Professor Bivar teaches The Human History of Climate Change and Losing the Farm: 20th Century Agriculture in a Global Context.
Professor Bivar’s current research explains how economic growth came to be the hidden scaffolding of the twentieth century. From the Great Depression and new assumptions regarding state responsibility for the economy, to the celebration of postwar affluence, growth became both an economic objective and a political promise. With her current research, she examines how the term emerged as an economic category, spread to the sphere of politics, and then infiltrated the realm of international development aid. Professor Bivar argues that the emphasis on growth created a political culture that privileged economic over social and cultural issues, and elided questions concerning both domestic and global inequality.