My project examines the entanglements of state and private enterprise in the New Bedford whale fishery. I argue that far from inevitable, the success of whale fishery in nineteenth-century New Bedford was the result of a concerted investment by federal, state, and municipal governments to elevate the industry over other economic interests. As such, my project is not primarily a history of whale fishery, but rather a history of how the early American state imagined and constituted itself through the management of whale fishery. My study emerges at the intersection of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) studies and scholarship on early American statecraft.
Dissertation: "A Well-Oiled Machine: New Bedford Whale Fishery and the Production of the Early American State"