Author: Parker, Heather A

Prof. Manisha Sinha, new president-elect of SHEAR

Manisha Sinha, professor of historyAfter a recent election, Professor Manisha Sinha is now the president-elect of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR).

Established in 1977, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) is an association of scholars dedicated to exploring the events and the meaning of United States history between 1776 and 1861. SHEAR’s mission is to foster the study of the early republican period among professional historians, students, and the general public. It upholds the highest intellectual standards of the historical profession and encourages the broad diffusion of historical insights through all appropriate channels, including schools, museums, libraries, electronic media, public programming, archives, and publications. SHEAR cherishes a democratic ethos in scholarship and cultivates close, respectful, and productive exchanges between serious scholars at every level of experience and recognition. SHEAR membership is open to all; most members are professional historians employed in colleges, universities, museums, and historical parks and agencies, as well as independent scholars and graduate students.

Elected to the Nominating Committee for 2024-2026 were two department alumni: Antwain K. Hunter, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (MA ‘09) and Jessica C. Linker, Northeastern University (PhD ’17).

Congratulations to everyone!

This Is My Jail: Local Politics & the Rise of Mass Incarceration

While state and federal prisons like Attica and Alcatraz occupy a central place in the national consciousness, most incarceration in the United States occurs within the walls of local jails. In This Is My Jail, Melanie D. Newport situates the late twentieth-century escalation of mass incarceration in a longer history of racialized, politically repressive jailing. Centering the political actions of people until now overlooked—jailed people, wardens, corrections officers, sheriffs, and the countless community members who battled over the functions and impact of jails—Newport shows how local, grassroots contestation shaped the rise of the carceral state.

As ground zero for struggles over criminal justice reform, particularly in the latter half of the twentieth century, jails in Chicago and Cook County were models for jailers and advocates across the nation who aimed to redefine jails as institutions of benevolent transformation. From a slave sale on the jail steps to new jail buildings to electronic monitoring, from therapy to job training, these efforts further criminalized jailed people and diminished their capacity to organize for their civil rights. With prisoners as famous as Al Capone, Dick Gregory, and Harold Washington, and a place in culture ranging from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle to B. B. King’s Live in Cook County Jail, This Is My Jail places jails at the heart of twentieth-century urban life and politics.

As a sweeping history of urban incarceration, This Is My Jail shows that jails are critical sites of urban inequality that sustain the racist actions of the police and judges and exacerbate the harms wrought by housing discrimination, segregated schools, and inaccessible health care. Structured by liberal anti-Blackness and legacies of violence, today’s jails reflect longstanding local commitments to the unfreedom of poor people of color.

This Is My Jail book cover

Tokyo Olympics Q & A with Prof Alexis Dudden

Ask the Experts: Summer Olympic Socioeconomics

To get a better understanding of the Tokyo Games’ biggest storylines, WalletHub posed the following questions to a panel of experts in the fields of sociology, economics, public policy and more. You can check out their bios and responses through the link below.

  1. With COVID-19 safety concerns in mind, what safety tips do you have for US tourists that will attend the Tokyo Olympics?
  2. Given its current vaccination count, is Tokyo safe and ready for the Olympics?
  3. Do you think that the US Olympic team will take first place in the medal count?
  4. Will Simone Biles become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic championships in more than 50 years?
  5. What will be the impact of the Olympics on Tokyo’s economy?

For Professor Dudden’s replies to these questions, please check out WalletHub’s “Ask the Experts” feature.

History Welcomes Hana Maruyama to UConn

Assistant Professor Hana Maruyama image

We are thrilled to welcome Professor Hana Maruyama to UConn this fall as Assistant Professor of History jointly appointed with the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute. A specialist in Digital Public History, she is part of this year’s exciting cluster hire in Anti-Racism and Anti-Bias. Professor Maruyama brings an impressive array of skills, strengths, and research and teaching interests which will advance the Department of History’s EPOCH program, the joint minor in Digital Public History being developed with Digital Media and Design, and the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute’s K-12 curriculum initiative and commitment to teaching anti-racism.

Hana C. Maruyama is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, with a graduate minor in Heritage Studies and Public History. This August she defends her dissertation, “AlienNation: The Role of Japanese American World War II Incarceration in Native Dispossession.” Her work on Japanese American World War II incarceration, how it relied on and reproduced settler colonial logics, and how it impacted American Indian and Alaska Native people. She is the co-creator/producer of Campu, a podcast created in partnership with the Japanese American oral history organization Densho. She formerly worked for American Public Media’s Order 9066, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. She is yonsei (or fourth generation Japanese American) on her father’s side, with family incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Gila River, and Jerome.

Virtual London Internship – Maxwell Goldstein ’22

Max Goldstein, class of 2022, History and Anthropology major
Maxwell Goldstein ’22

Maxwell Goldstein, ’22, a student double majoring in Anthropology and History, was amongst the first students to participate in the Virtual London Internship program this fall. We recently caught up with him to learn more about why he decided to participate in vitual programming and what the experience offererd him during a unique time globally, and in his final academic year at UConn.

“The Fall 2020 semester was definitely an interesting one and given that I was at home for it without any classes to attend in person, I wanted to do some additional work to keep me busy, as well as padding out my resume.”

Max also saw value in applying his academic learning to real world experience with an internship. “Academically, I could not have asked for a more appropriate experience. I was allowed to explore a version of what I had already been doing throughout my undergraduate coursework at UConn, and this came with different opportunities and challenges that were not present in the structured environment of a classroom. Another consideration is that it looks good on a resume, that you were willing and able to take on additional responsibilities in such a tumultuous period of time.”

Maxwell knew that there would be challenges that came with this experience. He explains, “I think the internship that I took part in helped me to continue to do my best work even with all the irregularities and issues that this semester put forth. It kept me to a schedule, and with the way fall 2020 played out, I think having that responsibility to other people, not just yourself, was important.”

When asked what advice he had for prospective students who weren’t sure about participating in a virtual internship experience, Maxwell replied, “Talk to your advisors; its their job to help you out. If you are concerned with getting an internship that meshes well with your chosen major, I wouldn’t stress too much. I am an Anthropology & History major, and if I could get an internship in History, I am sure that you can get an internship that aligns with your interests. Additionally, if you are unsure about your major, this can be an opportunity to really get a feel of what it would be like in the real world, which can help inform your future undergraduate studies at the University.”

So what’s next for Max? “I really enjoyed the work that I did over the course of the internship, and would love to participate more in this regard. I think it would be impossible to say that this internship hasn’t influenced my future plans at all; it’s provided me the expectations that I will have for future opportunities, and how I should approach them.”

For more information, contact: Education Abroad at

Jenifer Gaitán (HIST Stamford) Awarded SURF Grant

Concourse (atrium) at Uconn Stamford on Oct. 17, 2018. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

The Office of Undergraduate Research has announced the selection of 50 undergraduate students to receive SURF Awards in support of their summer undergraduate research projects.

Jenifer Gaitán, a senior honors History major / Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor will research a project titled “Voces: FirstGeneration Latinx Students Discuss Their Support Networks.” Jenifer’s faculty mentor is Dr. Laura Bunyan, Sociology.

This research project is in support of Jenifer’s University Scholar project by the same name. Her faculty advisor committee members are: Laura Bunyan, Sociology (Chair); Ingrid Semaan, Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Joel Blatt, History.

Project Summary: In the last decade, the number of Latinx students who have enrolled in college has increased by over 80%. Many of these students are first-generation college students, who as a whole make up approximately one-third of all college students. Despite being the largest ethnic minority group in the U.S., Latinx students are understudied. Those who are the first in their families face unique challenges while often balancing familial, work, and academic responsibilities with limited institutional support. Through in-person interviews, this project explores the systems of support first-generation Latinx students utilize through the completion of their undergraduate educations.

Jenifer is also the President of Husky Outreach for Minority Education (HOME). She is a first-generation college student and proud daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants.

PhD Student Lauren Stauffer Contributes to Made By History

Utilizing research from her dissertation, third-year PhD student Lauren Stauffer contributed an op-ed, titled “How President Trump Shattered the Bond Between Republicans and NATO,” to the Washington Post’s Made by History column. The article compares the Republican Party’s longstanding support for NATO, particularly under President Ronald Reagan, to the current relationship between the alliance and President Trump.

Take History BACK from White Supremacists

by undergraduate student, Rohit Kandala ’19

On March 15, 2019, the world stood in silence as 50 people were massacred and 50 more were injured in the Christchurch mosque shootings. I remember waking up that morning and staying silent for a couple hours as the news reports started to pour in. Throughout the entire ordeal, what saddened me most was that Christchurch wasn’t a surprise—and no one can pretend that it was a coincidence.

Luckily, most media outlets no longer phrase the systematic and global problem of white supremacy as a “rising threat”—it’s already clear that it’s here and it’s not a fringe movement. But, this article isn’t about white supremacy as much as it is about how history has been kidnapped and corrupted by this movement to serve its perverse needs. Misinformation is the problem.

Before I go further, I have two conditions: I will not list the perpetrator’s name as that is exactly what he and his movement want and I will list two assumptions I have:

1. Currently, History is expressed through more mediums than ever. While, K-12 education is still formative, online mediums like Facebook & YouTube are increasingly used more often either for education or entertainment. Unfortunately, most of weaponized history also occurs on these new and less regulated platforms.

2. Fortunately or unfortunately, History is fluid & is constantly re-shaping itself. This results in different interpretations over time, and people can exploit that to create the representation they’d like.

Both these statements, which I hold to be true, have wide-ranging effects on History and how it’s understood.

First off, the fact that history is now more accessible because of advances in digital communications is a great thing! In fact, it’s a cost-efficient method to reverse the worrying trend of apathy for history amongst the public. I am an adamant supporter of using YouTube as a social media platform for history enthusiasts and professionals alike—it’s the future that history needs to adapt to. But, the accessibility of these services also allow figures such as Alex Jones (who had 2,431,237 subscribers before YouTube disbanded his channel[1]), Stefan Molyneux (911,000 subscribers[2]), and Sargon of Akkad (927,000 subscribers[3]) to flourish and promote their “free-thinking and rational community”.

That’s BS.

All these channels are not the same, but they are enablers for white supremacists to thrive in today’s information age. No channel wants to outright promote “hate speech” or “racism” that violate community guidelines—but they construct bloated arguments with a thin sprinkle of facts that let the viewer, an impressionable male usually in their early-to-mid 20s, “come” to the conclusion that white supremacy is supported by history. For example, “Replacement Theory”—which motivated the perpetrator to do what he did—is a very popular theory covered by YouTuber Lauren Southern (she has 699,000 subscribers while the video has 647,119 views[4]). But, these channels grow even more impactful on online messaging boards like Reddit and 4chan—which are far less moderated and thus even more crass.

This brings me to my second point: the fluid nature of history. Historians rarely agree even on the most minute of details, but we do agree that history is subjective and dependent on the person who wrote it. At UConn, we learn this in our HIST 2100, “Historian’s Craft” class in order to become better historical thinkers. No serious historian thinks of history as deterministic and if they do—they’re probably from the 19th century. This ability to manipulate information like this allows for white supremacy opinion leaders to cater to their audience while barely carrying the “I’m a legitimate historian” card. Moreover, if they’re actually judged by the same intellectual rigor students and academics are put through—they can claim to be “entertainers”. You cannot claim to be both, and if you do, you are none of those things.

This point brings me to my solution to the misinformation problem—and it is not an easy problem to fix. Yet, one thing is clear, accessibility should not be tampered with. It is the internet’s, and by extension, YouTube’s greatest strength. Rather, the solution lies in education. As stated above, students of history, if studied seriously, are subjected to historical analysis standards. A good analysis would have high quality sources, a strong thesis that is prevalent through the entire paper, and an overwhelming amount of evidence. How does this apply to online spaces like YouTube? For example, the quickest way to debunk an argument in favor of scientific racism is to evaluate the quality of the sources. Oftentimes, they are poor in quality and that is more than enough to de-rail said argument. Historical analysis is a learned skill and educating (or even simply maintaining an online presence) people about it could go a long way.

Again, I am hopeful—probably foolishly so. At least, the mass media is starting to acknowledge the historical misinformation in the digital space. A recent article by the NY Times succinctly and clearly defined the problem behind “Replacement Theory” and how it’s a continuation of the problem. But, pointing the problem simply won’t do. White supremacists don’t read the NY Times or traditional media outlets, they go on YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, 4chan, Twitter and other networks[5].

That’s why I insisted on posting this on The History Department’s website at UConn—my audience is my professors, grad/Ph.D students, and (some) undergraduates. We are trained to think historically at a time when our discipline is being trampled because we haven’t properly adapted to digital spaces (although there’s been some recent breakthroughs in public history).

It’s time to take back history to what it’s about. We are all interested in history for various reasons. Some of us are obsessed with maps, some with battle dates, some with political history, and some with area studies. But, we all appreciate the past for what it is, and it’s our duty to inform others of worrying trends, misinformation, and hopefully how great studying history can be. History isn’t about hate or love—it’s about empathy and “how”.

If not, New Zealand—a country that continually strives to be better for all its peoples—and others like it will take the fall. Please—let this be the last. When someone asks me to write about this period 50 years from now, I’d like to say that New Zealand was the turning point when we historians banded together and proactively swept away the pseudo-intellectualism of white supremacy.

And if the problem still seems like a world away and a tiny threat (even though the internet isn’t dependent on location)—just take a peek in your backyard[6].


[1] “The Alex Jones Channel”, Channel User Statistics, Socialblade, accessed March 26, 2019,

[2] “Stefan Molyneux”, Channel User Statistics, Socialblade, accessed March 26, 2019,

[3]  “Sargon of Akkad”, Channel User Statistics, Socialblade, accessed March 26, 2019,

[4] “Lauren Southern”, Channel User Statistics, Socialblade, accessed March 26, 2019,

[5] Emma Grey Ellis, “The Year the Alt-Right Went Underground,” WIRED, January 1, 2019,

[6] Rachel Philipson, “Known white nationalist organization flyers appear on UConn campus”, The Daily Campus, March 14, 2019,