Bench Ansfield

Bench Ansfield's picture
Graduate Student

Bench Ansfield is a PhD candidate in American Studies, as well as a Mellon/ACLS and Jefferson Scholars National Fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year. Their dissertation, “Born in Flames: Arson, Racial Capitalism, and the Reinsuring of the Bronx in the Late Twentieth Century,” examines the wave of arson-for-profit that coursed through the Bronx and many other US cities in the 1970s. The dissertation’s first chapter won the Organization of American Historians’ Pelzer Award for the best essay in American history by a graduate student, and it is forthcoming in the Journal of American History. Their peer-edited articles have also appeared in American Quarterly, Antipode, as well as the collection, Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis (2015), edited by Katherine McKittrick. Bench worked as a researcher on the PBS-aired documentary Decade of Fire (2019), and they’ve written for the Washington Post, Tikkun, and other popular publications. Their research has benefited from additional support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), and the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM), among others.

Racial capitalism, urban history, gender and sexuality studies, critical prison studies