Dept. of History | 1356 Campus Drive, East Campus, 224 Classroom Bldg., Box 90719, Durham, NC 27708-0719 | (919) 684-3014 | history.duke.edu vol. 1, Feb. 2023
This is the first issue of what will likely be a semi-annual newsletter highlighting the accomplishments of the History Department's faculty, graduate students, and alumni, as well as events and other noteworthy topics. This is by no means a comprehensive collection; there are simply too many exceptional things happening to contain within a single newsletter! Moving forward, we may decide to revise the content, purpose, and/or target audience of this publication. Suggestions and submissions are welcome at email@example.com. Submission is no guarantee of inclusion.
Sarah Balakrishnan continued researching and writing her first monograph, Anticolonial Public: Land, Economy, and the Political Imagination in Southern Ghana, c. 1471-1957. Recently, she published a number of articles on imprisonment, slavery, and cemeteries in colonial West Africa, in venues such as The Journal of Social History, Comparative Studies in Society & History, and Punishment & Society. For her fiction writing, Sarah was awarded the Narrative Grand Prize in October 2022, joining the ranks of Min Jin Lee, Ocean Vuong and Saidiya Hartman.
In January, Ed Balleisen co-organized a national workshop in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Association of American Universities and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, on the topic, “Taking Doctoral Mentorship Seriously: Institutional Design for Equity and Inclusive Excellence.” In March, he will give a keynote address at the annual meeting of the Western Association of Graduate Schools, taking place in Portland. That talk will be on “Experiential Learning in Graduate Education: Prospects, Challenges, and Priorities.”
The new, ninth edition of Bill Chafe's The Unfinished Journey (OUP) offers a greatly enhanced visual program, with over forty new photos and twenty new maps, graphs, and tables. This classic text chronicles America's roller-coaster journey through the decades since World War II, considering both the paradoxes and the possibilities of postwar America while portraying the significant cultural and political themes that have colored our country's past and present, including issues of race, class, gender, foreign policy, and economic and social reform.
Incorporating a concern about mass incarceration into his teaching, James Chappel has become involved with a number of projects. The Prison Engagement Initiative through the Kenan Institute of Ethics is trying to find more pathways between Duke and local incarcerated populations. As a component of the capstone course for the Human Rights Certificate, he has also partnered with a local nonprofit called OurJourney, an organization founded by formerly incarcerated North Carolinians that helps to provide re-entry services to those who are released from prison and are, right now, poorly served by the state. James also taught a seminar at Butner Prison, which he describes as “an eye-opening experience, and one that I recommend to all of you.”
In an online address to China's Hangzhou University on December 11, 2022, Prasenjit Duara drew nearly 10,000 viewers to her lecture on Nationalism and the Crises of Global Modernity, originally presented in 2021 as The Ernest Gellner Nationalism Lecture. The full text may be viewed here.
Adam Mestyan has a number of noteworthy publications. His latest book, Modern Arab Kingship: Remaking the Ottoman Political Order in the Interwar Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2023) is due out in August; With Rezk Nori, he has co-written “The Probate Regime – Enchanted Bureaucracy, Islamic Law, and The Capital of Orphans in Nineteenth-Century Egypt” for Law and History Review; He has also received two Best Article Honorable Mentions, one from the Syrian Studies Association for “From Administrative to Political Order? Global Legal History, the Organic Law, and the Constitution of Mandate Syria, 1925–1930” (Journal of Global History 17, 2 (2022): 292–311), the other from the Hungarian Studies Association’s Mark Pittaway Prize Committee for “Muslim Dualism? Inter-Imperial History and Austria-Hungary in Ottoman Political Thought, 1867–1921” (Contemporary European History 30, 4 (2021): 478–496). Finally, Adam will deliver a Langford lecture on March 2, 2023, entitled “The United States of Syria, 1916-1924: How the Descendants of the Prophet (Almost) Created The Modern Middle East.” This is the highest recognition by the Provost to recently promoted faculty.
Martin Miller has completed the manuscript for his next book, Witnesses: Western Documentary Photography of the Soviet Union, which has been accepted for publication by Routledge Press.
Pictured, an image from Witnesses by documentary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (Moscow, 1973).
Peter H. Wood, now living in Colorado, continues his interest in early South Carolina Black history. In September, he spoke at a Charleston conference on the 1739 Stono Revolt, the largest slave uprising in colonial North America. With National Park Service support, he has prepared a free 12-page booklet for public use called “What Was Stono?” A pdf to reprint and distribute can be downloaded at SlaveDwellingProject.com.
Congratulations to Martha Espinosa for winning the Charles A. Hale Fellowship for Mexican History from the Latin American Studies Association! The Fellowship rewards “excellence in historical research on Mexico at the dissertation level.” It is awarded based on “scholarly merit, and on the candidate’s potential contribution to the advancement of humanist understanding between Mexico and its global neighbors.” This is a highly prestigious award and Martha joins some very eminent scholars.
As a Summer 2022 Provost Intern, Mohammed S. Ali contributed to Long Overdue, an ambitious project by the American Historical Association to rectify the marginalization of historians of color in its own publication, Perspectives on History. Details here.
The History Department welcomes Jehangir Malegam as the new Director of Graduate Studies, and extends many thanks to Dirk Bonker, our outgoing DGS, for his exceptional service.
Jeffrey Crow (PhD, 1974): "As a longtime member of the Historical Society of North Carolina, I am pleased to inform you that at its October 14 meeting the society voted to rename the annual award for the best article in the North Carolina Historical Review after Helen G. Edmonds, a prominent historian and administrator at North Carolina Central University, and Raymond Gavins. The Edmonds-Gavins Award succeeds the R. D. W. Connor Award, which was established in 1953. Connor was a famous North Carolina historian, first secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission, and first archivist of the United States (1934-1941). He was also a noted white supremacist whose views seemed anachronistic in this day and age. Ray’s distinguished career as a teacher, mentor, and scholar deserves more recognition, and I am pleased that I had a role in naming this award after him."
An article by Travis Knoll (PhD, 2022) and a team of Brazilian researchers has been accepted for the Fall issue of the Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies. The French-language article, "Religion and Representations of Social Justice on Brazilian urban peripheries" analyzes the relationship between religion and public policy positions in Rio's Baixada Fluminense. One of the largest surveys of its kind at a regional level, the study points to support for redistributive policies across religious affiliations even in the face of slight differences on cultural and sexual issues.
Danielle Terrazas Williams (PhD, 2013): An Associate Professor in the School of History at the University of Leeds in England, Danielle published The Capital of Free Women: Race Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico (Yale University Press) in 2022, which explores the lives of African-descended women across the economic spectrum, evaluates their elite sensibilities, and challenges notions of race and class in the colonial period. In February 2023, Terrazas Williams will be giving talks at both Harvard University and Oxford University.
Gray F. Kidd (PhD, 2021): Assistant Director of Graduate Research Programs and Assistant Teaching Professor (Adjunct) of History at Villanova University, Gray is completing his book manuscript Surrendering to the Streets: Black Artists of Laughter, Anger, and Reverence in Recife, Brazil, 1940-1980. Additionally, an article-length synthesis of two chapters from his 2021 dissertation was accepted for publication in the Journal for Latin American Studies. This piece explores racist aggression and racial acrobatics in an oft-ignored form of popular puppetry in Northeast Brazil.
Recent Duke graduate Grace D. Li wrote her debut novel while in medical school at Stanford. Portrait of a Thief features five Chinese-American elite college grads who band together to steal ancient Chinese artifacts from Western museums and return them to China. The novel was an instant New York Times bestseller and optioned by Netflix. At Duke, in Katharine Brophy Dubois’ course on the history of the genre romance publishing industry, Grace wrote about the exoticization of Eastern heroes in modern romance fiction.
Vanessa Freije (PhD, 2015): Vanessa's book, Citizens of Scandal Journalism, Secrecy, and the Politics of Reckoning (DUP, 2020) in Mexico, was awarded the American Historical Association's Eugenia M. Palmegiano Prize in the History of Journalism (2021 award) and honorable mention by the Latin American Studies Association, Mexico Section, for the best Best Book in the Social Sciences (2022 award). Her new research was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer stipend (2022).
Kristin Wintersteen (PhD, 2011): In 2022, Kristin's The Fishmeal Revolution (University of California Press, 2021) won an Honorable Mention for the Bryce Wood Book Award from the Latin American Studies Association, and was a Finalist for the George Perkins Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History. The book documents the history of the commodity—and the marine ecosystem upon which it depended—as they fueled the rise of chicken, hog, and fish farming in the United States and Northern Europe after World War II.
Bryan Pitts (PhD, 2013) has just published his first monograph, Until the Storm Passes: Politicians, Democracy, and the Demise of Brazil’s Military Dictatorship (University of California Press, 2023). Based on documentary sources from nearly 20 archives, oral history interviews with prominent politicians, and audio recordings of legislative sessions, Until the Storm Passes traces how the Brazilian political class’s relationship with democracy and mass mobilization was transformed during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship, setting the stage for a breathtaking expansion of democracy that Brazil experienced over the next three decades. Pitts is the assistant director of the Latin American Institute at UCLA.
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