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Alex Sayf Cummings

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Columbia University, 2009
phone: 404-413-6386

Alex Sayf Cummings is a historian of law, media, public policy, and the American city.  His work examines how the transition to an "information society" reshaped American political culture and economic policy, as well as the built environment.  He received his BA (2003) from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and PhD (2009) from Columbia University, where he studied with  Elizabeth Blackmar and Barbara Fields. His first book, Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013, and his work has appeared in Salon, the Journal of American History, and Southern Cultures, among other publications. He has been the recipient of the Torbet Prize, an American Council of Learned Societies postdoctoral fellowship, and most recently, the Dean's Early Career Award from Georgia State University. He is also co-editor of the blog Tropics of Meta.

Dr. Cummings is currently at work on several projects that explore the ways that intellectuals and policymakers embraced the idea of a postindustrial economy since the 1950s. His next book, RTP and the Rise of the Postindustrial City, examines North Carolina's Research Triangle to explore issues of class, technology, deindustrialization, and economic development in the late twentieth century.

Selected Publications

“Life in the Menagerie: David Crockett Graham and Missionary-Scientists in Sichuan, China, 1911-1948,” American Baptist Quarterly (Fall 2009).

“Collectors, Bootleggers, and the Value of Jazz, 1930-1952,” in David Suisman and Susan Strasser, eds., Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

“From Monopoly to Intellectual Property: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright, 1909-1971,” Journal of American History.