AB University of British Columbia; MA and PhD University of Chicago
Venus Bivar is a Lecturer in Modern History and pursues research and teaching in three broad fields: European, economic, and environmental history. Her interests include the history of capitalism, agriculture and international trade, and the human history of climate change.
Her first book, Organic Resistance: The Struggle Over Industrial Farming in Postwar France (UNC Press 2018), was awarded the J. Russell Major Prize from the American Historical Association, as well as an honorable mention for the Society for French Historical Studies' Pinkney Prize, and was shortlisted for both the Canadian Historical Association's Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, and the Council for European Studies' European Studies Book Award.
She is currently working on two new projects. The first, Falling for Growth, examines the influence of economic thought on anthropogenic climate change, while the second, Unsafe Harbour, draws on the tools of political ecology to analyse the history of migration and port development in modern Marseille.
Venus joined the department at York in 2020, having taught at Washington University in St. Louis and at the University of California at Berkeley.
Venus' research and teaching are located at the intersection of European, economic, and environmental history. Her scholarship excavates the histories of major contemporary global phenomena, from the international agricultural trade system and climate change, to the primacy of economics in political life and the centrality of free markets to the liberal democratic state. Connecting each of these fields of research is a commitment to understanding the development of capitalism from the Industrial Revolution to the present day.
While my primary point of reference for thinking through these questions is modern France, my research and teaching often transcend national boundaries, following commodities, actors, and ideas as they circulate in global markets. Methodologically, I am a social and cultural historian who uses the experiences of non-elite actors, as well as larger symbolic ontologies, to understand how state-led economic practices determined the shape of everyday life.
Her first book, Organic Resistance: The Struggle Over Industrial Farming in Postwar France (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), traces the transformation of the French agricultural sector from a backward also-ran into a global powerhouse. Driven by state policies to modernize the French economy in the wake of the Second World War, French agriculture abandoned centuries-old methods, upending rural labor systems and the nation’s physical environment, to become one of the most powerful industries in the world.
She is currently at work on two new projects. The first, Falling for Growth: François Perroux and the Great Acceleration, is under contract with UNC Press. With this project, she examines the work of the most influential French economist of the postwar period, situating his intellectual and administrative reach within the context of international debates regarding growth, development, and inequality. Her second new project, Unsafe Harbor: A Political Ecology of Migration in Modern Marseille, excavates the entangled economic and environmental histories of urban development, migrant labour, and ethnoracial exclusion in modern Marseille, documenting how successive administrations pursued economic and urban development policies that divided the city into a green, affluent, native-born south, and a polluted, impoverished, immigrant north.