Amy C. Offner

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Associate Professor of History

Twentieth-century US and Latin America, transnational history, capitalism and political economy, empire and foreign relations

Amy C. Offner (Ph.D. Columbia University) studies twentieth-century US history in global perspective, with special focus on Latin America.  Her research and teaching address the history of capitalism and political economy, empire and foreign relations, and social and intellectual history.

She is the author of Sorting Out the Mixed Economy: The Rise and Fall of Welfare and Developmental States in the Americas (Princeton University Press, 2019).  The book won the Economic History Society's First Monograph Prize, the Michael H. Hunt Prize for International History from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Murdo J. MacLeod Prize from the Latin American and Caribbean Section of the Southern Historical Association, and the Alice Amsden Award from the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics.  It was also a finalist for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize and received honorable mentions for the Allan Sharlin Award of the Social Science History Association and the Stuart L. Bernath Prize of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.  The book argues that many of the tools that took apart midcentury welfare and developmental states came, ironically enough, from the repertoire of midcentury statebuilding itself.  Sorting Out the Mixed Economy takes readers through half a century of US and Colombian history, offering a transnational history of state formation and capitalist reconstruction since 1945.  In the process, it shows the influence of Latin American developmentalism on the formation of the US welfare state and reveals the midcentury origins of practices that are regarded today as hallmarks of neoliberalism, including austere systems of social welfare provision, changing systems of state decentralization, and novel forms of for-profit and private delegation of state functions. Capitalism in the late twentieth century, the book suggests, was not built in simple reaction against midcentury political economy; it was a parasitic formation that appropriated and redeployed key elements of the very order it destroyed.  For reviews and interviews, see Dissent, Plural, New Books in History, Historias, and the Hagley Library.

Offner is now researching two new projects.  Debt in Indian Country is a history of debt among Native Americans during the twentieth century.  The Disappearing Worker travels across the postwar world to offer a transnational history of the unraveling of the employment relationship: the rise of contract and contingent labor and the rise of new forms of ownership and investment that distanced the owners of capital from the claims of workers.  The book connects the fate of US workers to those overseas by situating both within multinational corporations that transported lessons and practices across world regions.

Offner has received fellowships and grants from institutions including the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the Charles Warren Center for American History at Harvard University, the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Inter-American Foundation, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Tamiment Library at NYU, Baker Library at Harvard Business School, and the Duke University Center for the History of Political Economy.  Before beginning graduate studies, she worked as a union organizer and an editor at Dollars & Sense, a magazine and book publisher analyzing economic affairs.

Offner advises doctoral dissertations in both US and Latin American history at Penn and has been an external reader for MA and PhD theses in the United States and Colombia.  She welcomes inquiries from prospective graduate students.


Guidance for prospective graduate students:

When assembling an application, please include a writing sample that shows original interpretation of primary sources, as well as a personal statement that presents your intellectual autobiography and identifies major historical questions that interest you.


Ph.D. Columbia University

Courses Taught


HIST 0100 Deciphering America

HIST/LALS 1740 Capitalism, Socialism, and Crisis in the Twentieth-Century Americas

HIST 1191 (formerly 451) US Empire in the Twentieth Century

HIST 231.303 Capitalism, Slavery, and the Transformation of Indigenous Life

HIST/LALS 3158 ¡Huelga! The Farmworker Movement in the United States

HIST 3160 The Vietnam War


HIST 610.302 American Empires, 1763-2000

HIST 6660.301 Twentieth-Century Political Economy: Latin America in the World

HIST 670.301 Thinking about the Economy: A Social and Global History of Ideas

HIST 670.303 State Formation and Political Economy