Caroline West is a first-year PhD student from Chattanooga, Tennessee. She studies the racial politics of Great Depression-era economic and social planning in the American South, in particular the Tennessee Valley region. Her research foregrounds the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a New Deal agency founded with a broad mandate to promote southern industrialization, in considering the multidirectional links between the South’s economic modernization and the evolution of its racial order throughout the long Civil Rights Movement. She is broadly interested in the historical characterization of the South in the American popular imagination, the history of capitalism, and Southern intellectual history.
Caroline received her MPhil in American History from King’s College in the University of Cambridge and her B.A. in Sociology and International Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Her MPhil dissertation explored the development and implementation of the TVA’s planning philosophy from both above and below, examining the racial and political ideologies of the TVA’s leaders and champions alongside the experiences of Black and white subsistence farmers who were displaced by the construction of TVA dams in rural Alabama. In contributing to the broad and deep historiography of the New Deal in the South, she hopes to highlight the stories of ordinary Southerners, especially the poor, oppressed, and dispossessed, whose voices are largely missing from existing scholarship.