UConn History Professor Manisha Sinha draws connections between the conditions leading up to the 1866 midterm election and the 2022 midterm elections in her piece for CNN, “Why I hope 2022 will be another 1866,” to provide both context and hope when American democracy is at stake. Prof. Sinha explores similar themes between the 1866 and upcoming midterms including a rise in armed paramilitary groups, racial violence, and the dangerous attempts at power grabs. It is her hope that 2022 will be another 1866 and that Americans will rise to defend democracy as they had in 1866. Read the full article on CNN.
David Evans presented his paper, “Eradicating Hunger: The World Food Crisis and Anti-Hunger Activism in the 1970s.” This project explores how state and non-state actors reacted to global food insecurity during the 1970s. It highlights the significance of human rights and neoliberal economic approaches to solving the food problem, and the degree to which they intersected U.S. foreign and domestic politics. His dissertation in progress, “Hunger for Rights: The Human Right to Food in the Post-War Era, explores similar themes.
Lincoln Hirn presented his paper, “Dynamic Stories: The Changing Role of the Slave Narrative in Postbellum America,” which discusses how the slave-narrative genre of autobiography changed between 1865 and 1915. It also looks at how formerly enslaved autobiographers adapted to the changing ways that the American public viewed and remembered slavery, enslavers, and the Civil War.
Rachel Hendrick presented her paper, “Benjamin Franklin and the Business of Paper,” which lays out a methodology for combining evidence from Franklin’s business ledgers and from the paper he used to print the Pennsylvania Gazette to show that Franklin had far different paper buying habits than his contemporaries. She argued that Franklin was buying printing paper in the late 1730s to ingratiate himself with his fellow Philadelphia merchants. Her research shows that these purchases later translated into donations of time and money for Franklin’s improvement projects in the 1740s and 1750s.
Juan Macias-Diaz presented his paper, “An Indigenous Kingdom: Indigenous Anticolonial Projects of the Comunero Revolt (1781),” an exploration of the surprising echoes of the Túpac Amaru Rebellion among indigenous and criollo communities in New Granada (Colombia).
From February 4 – February 27, the Stonington Historical Society will debut new and permanent exhibition on slavery. Thanks to the dedicated research of two members of the UConn History community, Professor Nancy Steenburg and former graduate student Liz Kading, the story of Venture Smith will shed light on the multifaceted landscapes of slavery and freedom in 18th century New England. The exhibition, entitled, “My Freedom is a Privilege that Nothing Else Can Equal,” will mark the re-opening of the Lighthouse Museum. Admission will be free throughout the month. For more information:
On Thursday, November 18, 2021–the Thursday before Thanksgiving–State Historian and UConn Professor Walt Woodward and Professor Manisha Sinha gave testimony before the Connecticut state legislature on the John Mason statue at the State Capitol. John Mason, considered a founder of the Connecticut colony, set fire to a Pequot community in 1637, claiming the lives of at least 400 people. Anthropologists, members of the Mohegan, Eastern Pequot, Mashantucket tribes, and a descendant of John Mason convened for over 2 hours to discuss the removal of his statue. This discussion examined the complexities of history, memory, symbolism, and the violence integral to the story of the making of the United States. Professor Woodward and Professor Sinha grappled with the meaning of the statues t for the teaching and remembering of history. Both are cited in this excellent CT Mirror article that recaps the state session. Prof. Walt Woodward is also quoted in the December 11 issue of The Economist, in the article “How the culture wars can show what’s right with America.”
UConn ’21 graduate Michael Francomano worked with UConn History Professor Alexis Dudden on their senior thesis that explores the legal discourses around nuclear weapons in the twentieth century. A job well done!
Michael Francomano, “The Influence of the United States on Nuclear Laws”
Thesis Advisor: Alexis Dudden
The United States government has influenced the laws surrounding the use of nuclear weapons from the moment of their first use against a civilian population in 1945. These efforts include countless measures taken to absolve the United States from responsibility for their actions. This is especially seen in the Marshall Islands where US government efforts to abjure legal responsibility to help those directly impacted by radioactive fallout resulting from weapons testing between 1945 and 1962 abound as do efforts to attend the natives that were completely displaced from their home islands destroyed in the name of nuclear testing. These actions span to current day warfare. In so doing, the United States government defies international laws prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons in war in the form of armor piercing rounds of munitions made out of depleted uranium (used as recently as 2015 in Syria). The legality of these weapons is something that remains a gray area in international law, and a major contributor to that is the fact that the United States has used its power and history with nuclear weapons to influence the creation of new precedents and disregard the laws that have already been in place.
UConn ’21 graduate Michael Fox worked with UConn History Professor Meredith Rusoff on their senior thesis that explores freedom of speech in early modern England. A job well done!
Michael Fox, ““A Strange Thing for the Foot to Guide the Head”: Freedom of Speech in Elizabethan Parliaments
Thesis Advisor: Meredith Rusoff
Freedom of speech is a right that many in the United States, and the Western world, take for granted as something that is critical for any modern democratic society to function. However, this has not been the case for the vast majority of Western, and human, history. It is during the early-modern period, specifically the Enlightenment, that concepts such as freedom of speech were developed, and eventually became fully encoded in law. Britain, more specifically England, led the way in the development of freedom of speech within its Parliament, and the practice of common law. Similar to how the government itself evolved in England, so too did its concept of what rights and liberties could be exercised.
Between November 11-12, UConn History will host Emory Professor Mariana P. Candido as a part of the annual Gender & History Series. Professor Candido’s training is in African history, and her work explores gender, property, and land in Angola. Professor Candido will discuss her research in a public lecture and workshop:
Thursday, November 11
Public Lecture | Storrs Campus, Class of ’47 Room in Homer Babbidge Library | 4:30-6pm
“Wealth and Accumulation in Angola: A History of Dispossession and Inequality”
Friday, November 12
Workshop | Storrs Campus, Wood Hall Basement Lounge | 10-11:30am
“Gendered Strategies to Secure Property in 19th century Angola”
*(a pre-circulated paper is available – email Cornelia Dayton at email@example.com)
UConn History Professor Jeffrey Ogbar is one of two recipients of the 2021 Provost’s Outstanding Service Award. Since joining the UConn community in 1997, Professor Ogbar has worked as scholar, advisor, and director across the institution. He has been a “tireless advocate and mentor for students of color and first-generation students in a variety of capacities, formal and informal,” and for faculty of color, according to UConn Today. The UConn Today profile covers just how expansive and wide-reaching Professor Ogbar’s service has been and will continue to be. Congratulations! What a tremendous honor. We are grateful for your passion in building up the UConn community.
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.”
Three UConn History faculty members – Associate Professor and Department Chair Mark Healey, Assistant Professor Ariel Lambe and Assistant Professor Sara Silverstein – received Scholarship and Collaboration in Humanities and Arts Research (SCHARP) Development Awards from the UConn Office of the Vice President for Research. These awards aim to support innovative works of scholarship and creative activities in the arts and humanities that have the potential to transform a field of study, impact the common good, or chart a new direction in scholarly, creative, or artistic development.
Congratulations to all those involved! For more information about this honor, please click the link.