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 "Agents of Globalization: Shipping Companies, Labor Recruiters, and Landlords in the Making of the European Exodus, 1870-1930"-- shows how businesses including shippers, labor recruitment agents, and landed elites decisively shaped global mobility in an era of nominally “free” and unregulated migration. From South Carolina and Argentina to Saskatchewan and Australia, businesses tried desperately to court immigrants, resorting to subsidies and marketing campaigns, or, failing these, deceit and coercion. Recruiters were invariably aided by shipping companies, which agglomerated during the 1870s into a handful of globe-straddling, modern corporations like the British Cunard or the German Hamburg-America Line. Never simply neutral conduits of global interconnectivity, steamship lines indiscriminately fomented migration to countless destinations, which delivered profits far exceeding those on freight. Across Europe, meanwhile, the deluge of shipping agents and foreign recruiters provoked a backlash from commercial farmers, who had been buffeted by world markets and now faced a depleting labor force and rising wages. The net result was an international migration regime quite unlike our own. Ours is an age of chronic structural unemployment in the richest countries, in which liberalized immigration policies are consequently a hard sell. In 1900 by contrast the economies of the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand wrestled with an inexhaustible appetite for labor power. Simply put, even unskilled labor was a desperately sought commodity in a world awash in land and capital. From the First World War arose a wave of democratization across the globe, which led directly to immigration restrictions as the masses exerted unprecedented control over policy. 


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


Berkeley-Regensburg Research Fellowship - 2022

Gerald D. and Norma Feldman Graduate Dissertation Fellowship - 2022

Central European History Society Travel and Research Grant - 2021

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, expected 2024

Curriculum Vitae