Paige E. Pendarvis

Paige Pendarvis

Ph.D. Candidate

I specialize in the social, political, and intellectual history of political economy and the social sciences in modern Europe with a focus on France and its empire in the twentieth century. I completed my General Examinations in June 2020 in European History, 1650-1989 (Sophia Rosenfeld and Peter Holquist); Social Welfare and the State (Amy Offner), and Modern European Intellectual History (Warren Breckman).

My dissertation, tentatively titled "Levels of Living: A History of the 'Standard of Living' in the French Empire", explores the history of the concept of the "standard of living" from the 1910s through the 1960s. From the vantage point of the French empire and its unraveling, I consider why the standard of living became so important—and so difficult to define—in the political and economic landscape of the postwar world and why the various actors engaged in heated debates over decolonization, development, postwar reconstruction, and human rights deployed and attempted to measure the concept. Illuminating the concept's manifestations in metropolitan, colonial, and international contexts, I show that the standard of living—a concept, a metric, and, after 1948, a codified human right—structured debates over whether it was possible or proper to compare well-being across cultures amid world wars, decolonization, the emergence of global governing institutions, the rise and fall of welfare states, and the renegotiation of the role of social scientific expertise in society. My dissertation research is supported by the Social Science Research Council's Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship, a Chateaubriand Fellowship from the French Embassy in the US, and the American Historical Association.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, I am a visiting doctoral student at the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations at Sciences Po Paris.

At Penn, I have co-organized several workshops and reading groups, such as our department's Graduate Colloquium. From 2018-2019, I served as co-president of Clio, the history department's graduate student organization. 

Prospective students, please feel free to be in touch if you have questions about studying at Penn. 


M.A., History, University of Pennsylvania (2019)

A.B., History (with honors), University of Chicago (2016)

Research Interests

Modern Europe (1750-1989), particularly France; history of the welfare state; history of the social sciences; social movements; political economy; human rights; intellectual and social history; historical methodologies; twentieth-century social theory and economic thought

Courses Taught

PSCI 181: Modern Political Thought (Spring 2021)

HIST 175: History of Brazil (Fall 2020)

HIST 169: History of American Law (Spring 2020)

HIST 174: Capitalism, Socialism, and Crisis in the Twentieth-Century Americas (Fall 2019)

HIST 313: The French Revolution and the Origins of Modern Politics (Spring 2019)

HIST 081: The History of the Modern Middle East Since 1800 (Fall 2018)