Aaron Benanav

Harper-Schmidt Fellow
Collegiate Asst. Professor, Social Sciences
Affiliate Faculty, History Department
The University of Chicago

I am a historian of both modern European and global history, and my research focuses on histories of economic categories, social movements, and social imaginaries around work and labor. Currently, I am working on the history of unemployment as a theoretical concept, an object of government policy, and a socio-economic reality. Drawing on both archival and statistical materials, I present a new understanding of the history of unemployment as the history of social reformers’ efforts to control the liminal space between employment and unemployment. My research explores histories of informal work, clandestine employment, and working poverty. It also contributes a historical perspective to a growing literature on automation and the future of work.

My book, titled A Global History of Unemployment since 1949, is under advance contract with Verso. This book details the troubled history of unemployment as a conceptual framework and key statistic for measuring worklessness in the world economy.