Distinguished Lecturers
Jason Scott Smith

Jason Scott Smith

Jason Scott Smith is Professor of History at the University of New Mexico, where he teaches courses on modern American history, the Great Depression, and the history of infrastructure. He is the author of Building New Deal Liberalism: The Political Economy of Public Works, 1933-1956 (2006) and A Concise History of the New Deal (2014). A specialist in the history of capitalism and political economy, Smith’s research and teaching range from the nineteenth century through the global financial crisis of 2008. Before coming to UNM, he held fellowships at the Harvard Business School, where he was the Harvard-Newcomen Postdoctoral Fellow in Business History, and at Cornell University, where he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies. In 2017, Smith received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award and was named the Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College Dublin, Ireland.

OAH Lectures by Jason Scott Smith

This lecture examines the rhetoric surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border wall, taking Donald Trump seriously as a political actor and conveying the strategic logic that connects border security with the larger sea change in the legal mechanisms and policing capacities available to the federal government. These changes came with profound consequences, particularly for immigrants, asylum seekers, and people of color.

This lecture examines key moments of federal investment in infrastructure, from the public works and social safety net constructed during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt to the infrastructure legislation championed by Joe Biden and most of the Democratic party. Through this history, we can better understand the potential for public spending to transform the physical landscape of the nation while improving the lives of everyday Americans.

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