Noah Bender

PhD Candidate

Late Modern Europe

Research Interests

I am a historian of 19th and 20th century Europe, with special focus on Britain, Germany, and the Habsburg Empire. My dissertation, entitled "Shipping Power: British and German Shipping Companies in the European Exodus, 1870-1930", charts the rise and fall of shipping companies as conductors of the transatlantic emigration. I argue that the liberal international economy of the late nineteenth century, in which people circulated as easily as goods and capital, allowed new, vertically integrated shipping conglomerates to seize control of the Atlantic migration system. Because no cargo could match the profitability of migrants, shippers worked hard to increase the flow. Prior to World War I approximately one dozen shipping companies oversaw a network of more than 2,000 migration agencies, employing tens of thousands of subagents, tasked with recruiting emigrants from every corner of Europe. Standard accounts of the transatlantic migration emphasize macro factors like “poverty” and “persecution” as motors of emigration, while marginalizing shippers as mere conduits without power to influence flows of people. In fact, penetration into a region by shipping-capital was a necessary precondition for mass emigration to take place there. After the First World War states on both sides of the Atlantic erected new passport and border regimes and set rules on who could come and go, thus curtailing the privately-administered migration system. 

I am also interested in European agricultural history, and the political lobbying of the agricultural sector in particular. The protectionist orientation of continental European agriculture around 1900 is well known; more obscure are the efforts of agrarians to halt emigration, which cut deeply into the rural labor supply, and set off political showdowns with powerful shippers. In my dissertation I examine these conflicts as they played out in Germany. 


  • Political economy
  • Business history
  • European agricultural history
  • Migration
  • Liberalism and nationalism
  • Global and transnational history


Fulbright Fellowship, Freie Universität, Berlin - 2020-2021

DAAD Graduate Research Fellowship - 2020-2021 (declined)

Business History Conference Doctoral Colloquium - 2020

Fritz Thyssen Pre-Dissertation Fellowship, German Historical Institute - 2020


BA in History, University of Rochester, 2017

MA in History, University of California, Berkeley, 2020

PhD in History, University of California, Berkeley, projected 2023