Author: Nicole Breault

Professor Manisha Sinha Wins Frederick Douglass Book Prize

Manisha Sinha, the Draper Chair in American History, has been selected as the winner of the 2017 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her book “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition” (Yale University Press). Established in 1999, the Douglass Prize is awarded annually by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. Sinha will receive the prize at a reception sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in New York City on February 22, 2018. The latest of several awards, Dr. Sinha’s achievement is a source of great pride to all of her colleagues in the History Department and to the University of Connecticut at large.

To read the full press release from Yale University:

Speaker Spotlight: Draper Conference by Winifred Maloney

Nina Silber, David Blight, and W. Fitzhugh Brundage are all preeminent scholars of the Civil War and memory. They are three of many scholars who have entered the growing conversation regarding Confederate monuments and their place in our world. Silber, Blight, and Brundage have all contributed their thoughts on the matter to various publications, and will be continuing the conversation at the upcoming inaugural Draper Workshop Series event titled “Recasting the Confederacy: Monuments and Civil War Memory” on November 6.

Nina Silber, a professor of history and American Studies at Boston University, received her BA, MA, and Ph.D from UC Berkeley. She has published several books, including The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900 (1993); Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War (1992); Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War (2005); and Gender and the Sectional Conflict (2009). Silber is the president-elect of the Society of Civil War Historians. Her piece on Confederate monuments, “Worshipping the Confederacy is about white supremacy—even the Nazis thought so,” was featured by The Washington Post in August. Her current work focuses on Civil War memory during the Great Depression and the New Deal.

David Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale as well as the Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. He received his Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and won the Bancroft prize for this book Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001). On October 23, Blight briefed Congress on the history of Civil War monuments. On the subject of Confederate monuments, Blight wrote “‘The Civil War lies on in us like a sleeping dragon’: America’s deadly divide—and why it has returned” for The Guardian in August. Blight is currently writing a biography of Frederick Douglass to be published in 2018.

W. Fitzhugh Brundage is the William B. Umstead Distinguished Professor and Department Chair in history at UNC Chapel Hill. Brundage received his MA and Ph.D from Harvard. He has written several books and edited numerous collections, including Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930 (2011). Brundage’s piece, “I’ve studied the history of Confederate memorials. Here’s what to do about them” was featured on Vox in August. Currently, he is working on a project tracing the history of torture in the United States.

“Recasting the Confederacy: Monuments and Civil War Memory” will be the first of many events in the Draper Workshop Series. Organized by Manisha Sinha, Draper Chair in American History, the series promises to bring leading scholars to the University of Connecticut to engage in conversation surrounding various historical issues.

Speaker Spotlight: Sir Hilary Beckles by Andrew Cain

On Wednesday, November 1, at 4:30 PM in the Konover Auditorium, Sir Hilary Beckles will give a talk titled “The Greatest Political Movement of the 21st Century: Global Reparations for African Enslavement, Native Genocide and Colonisation.”


Should the descendants of slaves be compensated for the work of their ancestors? How much wealth have slaves generated in economic capitol? Is it possible to calculate pain and suffering? If so, what is the formula? Sir Hilary Beckles is an economic historian and international thought leader whose contributions to the study of the slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean has positioned him to be one of the world’s experts and leading figures in the conversations dealing with reparatory justice for slavery. The Vice Chancellor at the University of the West Indies. Beckles also serves as the Chair of the Caribbean Commission on Reparations.

In 1979 Beckles received his PhD in Economic and Social History from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom. However, the study of psychology was Beckles original interest—and it is the interdisciplinary weaving of history, economics, and psychology which has positioned Beckles as one of the Caribbean’s best thinkers. In 1979 (the same year he received his PhD) Beckles began his professional career as a senior lecturer at the University of West Indies. After serving as Chair of the History Department and Dean of the Humanities Department, at the age of 36 Beckles became the youngest person to be promoted to the personal chair at the University of West Indies.

Beckles has published over 100 peer-reviewed essays and 12 books on subjects ranging from Atlantic and Caribbean History to the sport of cricket. In his book Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide, Beckles explores the viability of reparations for Caribbean slavery. Slavery is very much so a personal topic for Beckles; he was born and raised on the Cumberbatch Plantation (a slave plantation) in St. Andrew’s Parish Barbados. In 2016, Beckles delivered a lecture at Oxford University where he recalls the experience of being born on a slave plantation. Beckles argues that colonial powers have left Caribbean countries with, which he terms, the “colonial mess” which includes social, economic, and political setbacks. Moreover, Beckles argues Caribbean colonialism has denied decedents of slaves’ access to their ancestry. For example, in the Caribbean 80 percent of black residents are unable to trace their ancestry beyond their great grandparents. Beckles connects this uncertain ancestry to his own ancestry by inquiring whether he is the cousin of actor Benedict Cumberbatch. And, unfortunately for Beckles (and most black people in the Caribbean) he will never have an answer. It is Beckles personal connection with slavery which drives his work and thinking about reparations. In addition to slavery and slave reparation, Beckles work focuses on the history the Caribbean and Barbados. In his book A History of Barbados: From Amerindian Settlement to Caribbean Single Market, Beckles illuminates a history of Barbados, its origin and events that have shaped the country. Beckles has edited and co-authored 13 books. The most recent book he co-edited Rihanna: Barbados ‘World-Gurl’” in Global Popular Culture (2016), explores the rise of the global icon and musical sensation Rihanna.

In addition to his distinguished academic accomplishments, Beckles serves as a member on many United Nation Committees and Advisory Panels. In addition, Beckles is a member of UNDP’s Advisory Panel on the Caribbean Human Development Report.
Lastly, Beckles is a well-recognized and respected figure in Connecticut: in 2017, Hartford, Connecticut declared March 2nd “Hilary Beckles Day” in recognition of Beckles’ contribution to Caribbean studies, social justice and human equality. Beckles contribution to the field of economic history has provided new perspectives, ideas and has raised new questions to explore reparatory justice for slavery and the history of slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean.

Speaker Spotlight: Nile Green by Susan O’Hara

On November 2, historian Nile Green will be at the University of Connecticut, speaking at the Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series. Dr. Green, a professor of history at the University of California – Los Angeles, will be presenting a lecture entitled, “The Muslim Discovery of Japan: Global History and the Inter-Asian Encounter.” Dr. Green’s lecture is related to his monograph, Terrains of Exchange: Religious Economies of Global Islam.

Dr. Green has published widely on Islam, globalization, and Muslim interactions with the non-Muslim world. Throughout his career as a historian, Dr. Green has traced the various Muslim networks that connect Afghanistan, Iran, the Indian Ocean, Africa, Japan, Europe, and America. His most recent monograph, The Love of Strangers: What Six Muslim Students Learned in Jane Austen’s London, is a microhistory that chronicles the journey of Muslim students from Iran to London, where they were tasked with learning scientific skills to bring back to their home country. In his 2015 monograph, Terrains of Exchange: Religious Economies of Global Islam, Dr. Green explores how interactions between Muslim and non-Muslim societies transformed both Islamic practices and the history of Islam. Further, Dr. Green sheds light on the growth of Islam in both Japan and America.

Dr. Green’s work on Islam has set him apart from other historians in the field due to the emphasis he has placed on religion in his scholarship. Rather than using the nation-state to frame questions and investigations into the past, Dr. Green emphasizes religion. In his scholarship, Dr. Green pulls from a wide range of sources, including diaries from traveling students, reports from missionaries, magazines, Bibles, and the first books printed in Arabic. Dr. Green describes himself as a historian of the multiple globalizations of Islam and Muslims.

Dr. Green was the founding director of the UCLA Program on Central Asia. He currently serves on the Association of Asian Studies’ South Asia Council, the Executive Committee of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, and on the editorial boards of both Iran-Nameh and Afghanistan.

On Friday, November 3, at 10:00 AM, the History Department will be hosting the Fusco Workshop in the Wood Hall Basement Lounge. Dr. Green will be discussing a pre-circulated paper regarding a global intellectual history approach to Afghanistan. Interested graduate students and faculty are encouraged to attend.

Speaker Spotlight: Douglas Little by Samuel Surowitz

Douglas Little of Clark University will be the second speaker in this year’s US Foreign Policy Seminar with a lecture entitled “Us verus Them: The United States and Radical Islam.”

First-year masters student Samuel Surowitz here offers a brief and compelling introduction to the work of this innovative scholar.

Dr. Douglas Little is the Robert and Virginia Scotland Professor of History & International Relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, he received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1972. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in 1975 and 1978, respectively, from Cornell University and has been at Clark since that time. Dr. Little’s areas of expertise include American foreign relations and twentieth century global history with a focus on American interaction with the Middle East. He is also affiliated with the program in Asian Studies. Dr. Little has written extensively about U.S. involvement in the Middle East, including articles he has published in International History Review and Journal of Cold War Studies. He has written book chapters for America in the World: The Historiography of US Foreign Relations since 1941, The Cambridge History of the Cold War, and The Cambridge History of the Cold War, to name just a few. He is the author of American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945 and is a winner of the James P. Hanlan Book Award from the New England Historical Association.
Dr. Little will be presenting a lecture on his 2016 book, Us versus Them: The United States, the Middle East, and the Rise of the Green Threat. Dr. Little describes the theme of an “us versus them” mentality which he places at the center of American society and foreign policy. This started with the “Red Threat” of the Native Americans, who were perceived by settlers to have “mounted the most sinister challenge”. Soon this progressed to the Founding Fathers, who identified the existential threat of European Monarchism as their great opponent. Dr. Little describes an unwavering tendency for American political actors and society at large to maintain this binary mentality in which Americans are pitted against a demonized threat.
Moving into the latter half of the 19th century, the “Yellow Peril” set Asians as a convenient nemesis. It allowed for legalized discrimination against Asian immigrants and provided an atmosphere ripe and abundant with hate crimes against them. Later, 20th century Americans would rally against Nazis in World War Two. The United States’ post war position would situate us well to take actions abroad against the new Soviet Communist “Red Threat” as well as oppressive domestic actions in response to the internal “Red Scare.” By the end of the 20th century and into the 21st, this tendency to view an “other” as the antithesis of the American and the American ideal has pointed the needle directly towards America’s most contemporary “them” – Islam. Islam has formed the new “Green Threat.” Dr. Little makes numerous references to the concept of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” in which stereotyping a group as the enemy (rather than identifying more comprehensive and nuanced reasons for conflicts) ipso facto results in a breakdown in relationships in which the group becomes the enemy. This becomes apparent when preemptive military or political action creates actual conflict in place of perceived conflict. The concept of the “Green Threat” in the American psyche will be the focus of his presentation, a portion of which is informally titled “A Short History of Islamophobia from Reagan to Trump.” Spoiler alert: Steve Bannon may or may not be portrayed as Darth Vader…
In 1985, the same year that the UConn History Department initiated the Foreign Policy Seminar, Dr. Little published Malevolent Neutrality: The United States, Great Britain, and the Origins of the Spanish Civil War. In 1986, UConn’s own Dr. Frank Costigliola (then at the University of Rhode Island) published a review of Malevolent Neutrality in The Journal of American History. He emphasized the importance of how Dr. Little shed light on the United States’ purposeful neglect of the left leaning Spanish republic when they called for aid. The republic, “turned increasingly to the Soviet Union, thereby adding credence to Anglo-Saxon suspicions that the republic had always leaned towards communism.” Dr. Little’s most recent book, Us Versus Them, provides structural integrity to the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy of othering. After identifying this theme over 30 years ago, it is exciting to see how Dr. Little has built upon it, and how after three decades this conversation among scholars is continuing.

Speaker Spotlight: Alastair Bellany by Alexandra Borkowski

Dr. Alastair Bellany will take part in the upcoming conference at UCHI “Re-Reading the Revolution”: A conference launching Léamh: Learn Early Modern Irish


Historian Alastair Bellany has devoted his academic career to studying the politics and culture of the early Stuart court. Bellany earned his B.A. from Oxford University, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He has been teaching at Rutgers University since 1996, and is on the executive board of Rutgers British Studies Center. As an early modernist, he focuses on popular politics and the development of media in and around the Stuart court. He is particularly interested in political intrigues and libelous literature surrounding the reign of King James VI and I.

Bellany published his first book, The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair, 1603-1660, in 2002 through Cambridge University Press. The book examines the political rise and fall of Sir Thomas Overbury, whose murder in 1613 scandalized the Stuart court. By carefully analyzing the creation and dissemination of news concerning the scandal, Bellany argues that images depicting the scandal had dangerous political significance for the court.

Furthering his research into the early Stuarts, Bellany coauthored The Murder of King James I, which was published by Yale University Press in 2015. The book examines the accusation made in a pamphlet in 1625 that the Duke of Buckingham murdered the king, and shows how this allegation influenced court politics leading up to the English Civil War. By examining the effects of the story of King James I’s murder, Bellany and co-author Thomas Cogswell investigate the political factors that weakened and eventually overthrew the Stuart dynasty.

Bellany’s expertise in court scandal, as well as the defamatory literature these scandals engendered, is also apparent in his work as co-editor of the online database “Early Stuart Libels: an Edition of Poetry from Manuscript Sources.” This impressive contribution to digital humanities features more than 350 poems spanning the reign of King James I to the beginning of the English Civil War. The collection is intended to help scholars view the political culture of the Stuart court through a unique literary lens.

Besides distinguishing himself through his books and work as editor of an online poetry collection, Bellany has been a frequent contributor to a variety of edited volumes. He is currently at work on a textbook for Oxford University Press on the history of Britain to 1715, and is also writing a history on the Stuart hanging ballad.

Speaker Spotlight: Bianca Premo by Susan O’Hara

On October 9th, historian Bianca Premo will be at the University of Connecticut as part of the Gender and History Visiting Scholars program.


Dr. Premo, an associate professor in history at Florida International University, will be presenting a lecture related to her recently published monograph, The Enlightenment on Trial: Ordinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire. Dr. Premo’s lecture will focus on women, civil law, and writing during the Spanish Imperial Enlightenment. While at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Premo will be also be leading a workshop entitled, “Little Mothers: Looking at Precocious Puberty in Mid Century Peru.”

Whereas much of the existing scholarship in the field treats the Spanish Enlightenment as a distinctly European movement, Dr. Premo argues that the Enlightenment also existed within the Spanish Empire. In The Enlightenment on Trial, Premo challenges the dominant narrative through looking at the lawsuits of the time. These lawsuits were brought to court by women, indigenous peoples, and the enslaved. Whereas previous scholarship has dismissed these populations as illiterate, Premo uses their lawsuits to demonstrate how colonized populations in the Spanish Empire were able to push for legal changes.

This text is in keeping with Dr. Premo’s previous scholarship. In Children of the Father King: Youth, Authority, and Legal Minority in Colonial Lima, Premo dives into Peruvian history and sheds light on how age, class, and race operated within the patriarchy. Just as Premo looks at the primary sources from previously silenced groups in The Enlightenment on Trial, much of Children of the Father King focuses on another silenced group: the youth. For Children of the Father King, Premo was awarded the 2007 Murdu MacLeod Prize from the Southern Historical Association and the 2006 Thomas F. McGann Award from the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies.

Dr. Premo’s work has been featured in The Hispanic American Historical Review, Slavery and Abolition, and The William and Mary Quarterly. Her prior scholarship on civil litigation in the Spanish Empire has earned two fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies. Dr. Premo’s contributions to the field have also been supported by the NEH and the National Science Foundation.

When asked about future projects, Dr. Premo has indicated that she will be looking at Lima, Peru, and investigate topics such as Roman Catholic sacraments and US Latino history within the 20th century.

Speaker Spotlight: Sarah Covington by Kristen Vitale

Dr. Sarah Covington will take part in the research roundtable discussion “Ideas, Religion and Memory” at “Re-Reading the Revolution”: A conference launching Léamh: Learn Early Modern Irish


Dr. Sarah Covington is a historian of early modern England and Irish studies at Queens College/ CUNY Graduate Center. She is the director of the Queens College Irish Studies program, a professor of History at Queens College, as well as professor of History at the Queens Graduate Center. Dr. Covington teaches on crime and punishment in early modern Europe, history of religious violence, the history of the devil, the history of Christianity, memory and history in Ireland, popular culture in early modern Europe, the history of Scotland, Tudor and Stuart England, and more. Author of over twenty-five journal articles and book chapters, she is also the Book Review Editor of the Renaissance Quarterly.

Her first book, published in 2004, The Trail of Martyrdom: Persecution and Resistance in Sixteenth-Century England, explores the religious persecutions by the Tudor monarchs from the reign of Henry VIII through Elizabeth I. This work ultimately investigates obedience, disobedience, religious enforcement and martyrdom in sixteenth century England. Her second work, Wounds, Flesh, and Metaphor in Seventeenth-Century England, published in 2009, studies “the theme of physical and symbolic woundedness in mid-seventeenth century English literature.” In this work, Dr. Covington highlights writers from sixteenth century England and their desperate attempt to “represent the politically and religiously fractured state of the time and re-imagined the nation through language and metaphor in the process.” Dr. Covington is currently writing two new works. The Black-Billed Birds and the Battling Seas: Oliver Cromwell, Memory, and the Dislocations of Ireland channels her knowledge of Irish history. This book “traces Oliver Cromwell and memory in the Irish historical, literary and folkloric imagination over three centuries.” Her second book will observe the “theological and literary reinterpretations of problematic biblical characters…in the wake of the sixteenth-century reformation.”

While Dr. Covington’s historical concentration is deeply rooted in the persistently awesome world of early modern England and Ireland, her thematic approaches to teaching and her own research include memory, the use of literature assimilated with history, as well as the Reformation and martyrdom. Her original use of methodologies attest to her sophistication as a historian. It is vitalizing, if not inspiring, to see that the assimilation of literature with history can be accomplished with great intellect and grace, while producing original and stimulating scholarship on a relatively studied area of history. Indeed, her thought-provoking research on Thomas Cromwell and memory, and her examinations of religious disobedience in Tudor England, in particular, will prove Dr. Covington to be a brilliant contribution to her roundtable discussion and to the conference as a whole.

UCHI “Re-Reading the Revolution”: A Conference Launching Léamh: Learn Early Modern Irish

“Re-Reading the Revolution”: A Conference Launching Léamh: Learn Early Modern Irish (

October 3-5, 2017
University of Connecticut
UConn Humanities Center, 4th Floor, Homer Babbidge Library, 369 Fairfield Way, Storrs
The “Re-Reading the Revolution” conference marks the launch of the website, Léamh: Learn Early Modern Irish, a web-based tutorial and resource for learning how to read and translate Early Modern Irish. This is a “working” launch consisting of three complementary sections: a workshop to produce a new text selection for the website, research panels consisting of leading scholars in Celtic languages speaking to recent research on the “revolutionary” years 1630-1660, and roundtables that explore the ways by which the Celtic languages can be used to reorient our thinking about major historical events.


Conference Registration, program, and additional information may be found at


Speaker Spotlight: Mimi Sheller by Megan Fountain

On Tuesday, 26 September, at 330pm, Professor Mimi Sheller of Drexel University will give the annual Robert G. Mead Lecture on the theme “Caribbean Futures: Surviving the Anthropocene”

First-year El Instituto student Megan Fountain offers a survey of Professor Sheller’s work and a glimpse of what she’ll cover in this talk.


As our society is increasingly shaped by the mobility of people, goods, ideas and capital around the globe, the inequalities in our society are increasingly shaped by “uneven mobilities.” In the case of travel and migration, for example, some people are more mobile than ever, while others are immobilized by militarized borders, and still others are displaced by forced migrations. These uneven mobilities have changed over time, and they are in no way permanent or inevitable. It is this fascination with past and future mobilities that drives the scholarship of Mimi Sheller, Professor of Sociology and Founding Director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel University.

Sheller began her career studying the “public sphere,” democracy formation, and civic participation, so it is not surprising that today she is a scholar who is deeply engaged in public policy debates. Sheller earned her PhD in history and sociology at the New School for Social Research. Her dissertation and first book, Democracy after Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica (2000), examined how “black publics” in post-emancipation Haiti and Jamaica labored to build radical democratic societies before they were ultimately stunted by liberal and then authoritarian governments.  Mining the archives of peasant organizations and popular religious organizations, including meeting minutes, mass petitions, and newspapers, Sheller studied how these black publics organized collectively and demanded land reform and political rights not only by reimagining liberal, European ideas of citizenship but also by drawing on transnational black abolitionist thought and critiquing white domination and planter oligarchy. Sheller’s future scholarship would continue to probe this question of how “publics” form and how they participate politically.

When Sheller joined the Sociology Department at Lancaster University in England, she began a collaboration with sociologist John Urry that would last nearly two decades until Urry’s untimely death in 2017.  In their first of many co-authored articles, “The City and the Car” (2000), they examined how the automobile was changing public space, public life, and democratic participation. Government projects of urban and suburban planning together with fossil fuel interests had created a “car culture” and car landscape that gave automobile owners access to a public sphere, while marginalizing pedestrians and public transit users and excluding them from civic life.

Sheller continued to examine public life in an article about “Mobile Publics” in 2004. While neoliberalism was extinguishing public goods and public spaces, and traditional modes of public debate such as newspapers were dying out, Sheller argued that other forms of public debate, democratic participation, and connectivity were emerging thanks to the increased mobility of information and people. Still, Sheller did not see these “mobile publics” as “some kind of democratic cybertopia.” Who was included in these new mobile publics? Who was excluded, and how could those exclusions be corrected?

In the coming years, Sheller and Urry would bring together a vast number of scholars across numerous disciplines to explore these questions together under the banner of “mobility studies.” In 2003, Sheller and Urry established the Centre for Mobilities Research at Lancaster University, and soon after, they convened the first Alternative Mobility Futures Conference and inaugurated the Mobilities journal. This “mobilities paradigm” was necessary, they insisted, because it was impossible to understand social inequalities without considering the uneven distribution of mobilities. “Mobilities are tracked, controlled, governed, under surveillance and unequal,” wrote Sheller, inviting scholars to play a role in creating “mobility justice.”

In her second book, Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies (2003), Sheller began to explore the problem of mobilities and immobilities in the Caribbean. In a sweeping indictment of the ways that the Global North has consumed Caribbean land, sugar and bodies from the colonial era to the present, Sheller also pointed to the free mobility of white tourists, contrasted with the immobility of black laborers trapped in the Caribbean.

Several years later, in the article “Virtual Islands,” Sheller revisited this problem in a case study of the Turks and Caicos Islands. She examined how cruise ships, tourist resorts, off-shore tax havens, and free trade zones were “part and parcel of the same process of spatial restructuring that is simultaneously producing enclaves of intense violence, withdrawal of governance, and collapse of civic life.”  The same forces that were connecting global travelers to the islands were also disconnecting island residents from each other.

In 2010, Sheller again analyzed uneven Caribbean mobilities in the article “Air Mobilities on the U.S.–Caribbean Border: Open Skies and Closed Gates.” Here she argued that tourist rhetoric about Caribbean “open skies” and political rhetoric about free trade “claim to increase mobility, but are in fact associated with material practices of border securitization and increased immobility, including refugee interception, migrant detention, and the militarization of air space.”

In 2012, Sheller again examined the nineteenth century history of Caribbean public life and civic participation in her book Citizenship from Below: Erotic Agency and Caribbean Freedom.  Here Sheller examined the ways that the post-slavery state tried to “control and discipline sexuality, fertility, and labor relations,’’ while at the same time black women and men resisted that control in a variety of ways. Such resistance is not necessarily found in the written archive, but it can be found in “embodied” practices. For example, the withdrawal of women from field labor was an act of resistance to exert control over their time and their reproductive lives.

Sheller’s latest book, Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity (2015), looks at environmental history in the Caribbean. Part one, “The Bright Side,” tells how architects, advertisers, and mining companies helped us imagine aluminum as an environmentally-friendly, “light” metal, that would increase our mobility and allow us to travel at high speed. In part two, “The Dark Side,” we learn how bauxite mining and aluminum refining have strip mined Caribbean lands into toxic sludge and further disrupted Caribbean communities with hydroelectric projects, all backed by military force.

Since moving back to her native Philadelphia to found the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel, Sheller has convened social science researchers with diverse actors including engineers, artists, designers, governments, and non-governmental organizations to co-create alternative mobility futures.

Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Sheller began facilitating “participatory engineering” projects in Haiti to make infrastructure projects more responsive to local voices and local needs for water and sanitation. In 2015, she interviewed Haitian and Dominican farmers, fishers, and other community members about the impacts of flooding due to climate change and sea level rise. In both projects, she paid close attention to uneven mobilities, and she presented the findings and recommendations to government and civil society organizations.

In 2011, Sheller joined the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute to evaluate post-earthquake efforts in Japan, and she used the findings to produce guidelines for the World Bank about disaster preparedness.

Through the Center for Mobilities Research, Sheller also fosters efforts to study and transform US cities, such as the creation of “Smart Cities” and “eco-cities” that use technologies such as “embedded sensors, open data systems and more community participation in planning and policy.”

In 2012, Sheller and colleagues from the Center co-curated LA Re.Play, an exhibit of “mobile art” in Los Angeles. The many participating artists used video, audio and other media to make visible social structures, histories, and injustices that typically remain invisible in the Los Angeles landscape. As viewers walked through the city following a digital map, they accessed the art through their smart phones.

It is hard to imagine another scholar who has crossed so many disciplinary boundaries and collaborated with such a wide range of practitioners in the public sphere, from creative artists to engineers. While Sheller’s work travels across hundreds of years and multiple continents, she seems to return again and again to the same question of uneven mobilities in the Caribbean, each time refining, deepening, and expanding her analysis. As climate change continues to intensify hurricanes in the Caribbean and no-so-natural inequalities continue to intensify natural disasters, there is no doubt that Sheller’s work is more relevant than ever.