Dr Nathan Cardon

Dr Nathan Cardon

Department of History
Associate Professor in United States History

Contact details

Arts Building, 324

My primary research interests are in the social, cultural, and transnational histories of the U.S. South, mobility, U.S. empire, and race.


  • H.BA, MA, PhD (University of Toronto)


I was born and raised in southern Ontario and did my graduate work at the University of Toronto before taking up a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough (2014-15). I joined the School of History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham in the Autumn of 2015.



  • The US South: From Plantations to NASCAR (Year 3)
  • Special Subject: The Making of the Modern United States: The Gilded Age and Progressive Era (Year 3)

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to discuss research projects broadly based in 19th and early 20th century United States history.

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My first book, A Dream of the Future: Race, Empire, and Modernity at the Atlanta and Nashville World’s Fairs was published with Oxford University Press in 2018. In it I examine how southerners at the end of the nineteenth century worked through the major questions facing a nation undergoing profound change. At the expositions, they attempted to understand how the region could be industrial and imperial on its own terms. In addition to the book an article examining African American participation in the expositions was published in the Journal of Southern History.

My next book project, The World Awheel: Americans in the First Global Bicycle Age, 1885-1920 (under contract with Columbia University Press), incorporates the methods of the new history of imperialism, materiality, mobility, environmental anthropology, and literary criticism to argue that the bicycle had an immense impact on the meanings of mobility for Americans both within the nation and as they went abroad. The bicycle, a technology that defied the spatial boundaries of the local, regional, and national, is an ideal lens through which to trace global circuits that blur the line between centre and periphery. The World Awheel, moves beyond traditional histories of the bicycle that focus on technology and sport to consider the emergence of a new cycling subjectivity. This new subjectivity had a profound influence on the ways in which Americans thought of themselves within the world and in terms of race, gender, class, movement, and science. Ultimately, The World Awheel places the United States within a global network that connects places as divergent as New York, the Philippines, the U.S. South, Paris, the Congo, and Australia. Research related to this project has recently been published in Technology & Culture, Journal of American Studies, and The Washington Post.


Recent publications


Cardon, N 2018, A dream of the future: race, empire, and modernity at the Atlanta and Nashville world's fairs. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190274726.001.0001


Cardon, N, Brown, M & Hurcombe, M 2023, 'At the Bicycle Races: Global Sporting Culture and National Belonging at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century, 1899-1913', Journal of Sport History.

Cardon, N 2023, 'Object in Focus: The 'Nyasaland Bicycle' (c. 1900): A History of Technology and Empire' Midlands Art Papers, no. 5, pp. 1-9. <https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/historyofart/research/projects/map/issue5/objects-in-focus-nyasaland-bicycle.aspx>

Cardon, N 2022, 'Global mass culture, mobile subjectivities, and the Southern landscape: the bicycle in the New South, 1887-1920', Journal of American Studies, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 755-782. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021875822000068

Cardon, N 2021, 'Cycling on the color line: race, technology, and bicycle mobilities in the early Jim Crow south, 1887-1905', Technology and Culture, vol. 62, no. 4, pp. 973-1002. <https://muse.jhu.edu/article/819769>

Cardon, N 2017, '"Less Than Mayhem": Louisiana's Convict Lease, 1865-1901', Louisiana History, pp. 416-440. <https://www.jstor.org/stable/26290931>

Cardon, N 2014, 'The South’s New Negroes and African American Visions of Progress at the Atlanta and Nashville International Expositions, 1895-1897', Journal of Southern History, vol. 80, no. 2, pp. 287-326.

Book/Film/Article review

Cardon, N 2022, 'Michael Ra-Shon Hall, Freedom Beyond Confinement: Travel and Imagination in African American Cultural History and Letters (Clemson SC: Clemson University Press, 2021); 230 pp., US$11.74, ISBN 978-1949979701.', Journal of Transport History. https://doi.org/10.1177/00225266221124532

Cardon, N 2019, 'Sweet Spots: In-Between Spaces in New Orleans ed. by Teresa A. Toulouse and Barbara C. Ewell', Journal of Southern History, vol. 85, no. 3, pp. 756-757.

Cardon, N 2019, 'Where One Empire Ends and Another Begins: Wendy Jean Katz (ed.) The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898-1899: Art, Anthropology, and Popular Culture at the Fin de Siecle', Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 384-385.

Cardon, N 2018, 'Who Freed the Slaves? The Fight Over the Thirteenth Amendment, by Leonard L. Richards', Journal of Global Slavery, vol. 3, no. 1-2, pp. 177-179.

Cardon, N 2015, 'World's Fairs in a Southern Accent: Atlanta, Nashville, and Charleston, 1895-1902, Bruce G. Harvey', Journal of Southern History, vol. 81, no. 4, pp. 1009-1011.

Other contribution

Cardon, N 2023, Re-Thinking Black (Im)mobility. African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). <https://www.aaihs.org/re-thinking-black-immobility/>

View all publications in research portal