UConn’s Department of History learned two of its students recently received impressive awards.
First, PhD student Nicole Breault received the John Tanaka Graduate Student Fellowship from the UConn Chapter of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Nicole is on leave this year because of another award, a 2020-2021 Draper Dissertation Fellowship from UConn’s Humanities Institute.
Second, our own undergraduate honors student, Lisette Donewald, was declared co-winner of the Judge Peter Zerella Scholarship of the Connecticut Supreme Court Society.
Congratulations to both Nicole and Lisette! You make everyone in Wood Hall proud.
In recent years, and especially this summer, debate is spreading about what to do with monuments – whether statues, memorials, or obelisks – that commemorate white superiority. As society changes, and the values of those societies shift, what is to become of monuments that have, in one word, “expired?”
Connecticut State Historian and Associate Professor Walter Woodward, in a co-authored essay with UConn Neag School of Education Professor Alan Marcus, have a fascinating new article in The Conversation examining the debate over “expired” monuments and what to do with them.
To read this engaging and timely piece, click here. If you like the essay, please consider sharing it.
In August the United States reached another grim milestone: over 170,000 deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic. But unlike other national tragedies, there has been little collective mourning among Americans. Why is that? Why is this time different? To better understand why national grieving is important, CNN contributor Ray Sanchez spoke with Professor Micki McElya. On August 16, Sanchez published the article, “Few signs of collective mourning as the US tops 170,000 coronavirus deaths,” on the CNN website. Professor McElya, author of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery, is the ideal scholar to discuss matters of collective grief and how US political leaders have marshalled national mourning during previous tragedies.
Describing the country’s lack of collective mourning, Professor McElya eloquently states in the CNN article: “We need to really consider this and talk about this as a collective national failure. One certainly encouraged by our leadership. But people have to submit or commit to that narrative, and so many have, and that’s an enormous sadness.”
We are saddened to share that earlier this month Roger Buckley, a wonderful Professor of History and colleague at UConn since 1984, passed away. In addition to serving as a member of the History Department, Buckley led the UConn Center for Academic Programs and served as the founding Director of the Asian American Studies Institute in 1993.
The current Director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute (AAASI), Professor Jason Oliver Chang, wrote a beautiful tribute to Professor Buckley in UConn Today. Chang writes that Buckley’s “combination of humor, kindness, and the tireless work to lift up creative, intellectual, and scholarly work rooted in the conviction and courage to right wrongs was a defining quality that many will remember and miss.”
Professor Manisha Sinha‘s op-ed, “Why Kamala Harris Matters to Me,” surged onto The New York Times website on Wednesday, August 12. In her reflective piece, Sinha calls Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris to be his vice presidential running mate as a “personal gift.” The op-ed provides a stirring glimpse at Harris’ Indian and Black heritage. In addition to Harris being only the second Black woman to be elected to the US Senate, she also is one of the most prominent politicians of Indian descent.
To read Professor Sinha’s reaction to Harris’ appointment, please click here.
As the national discussion over the removal of divisive Confederate monuments continues, Professor Micki McElya’s work on the Arlington Cemetery and its untold history features prominently. On July 5th, Ian Shapira published an article, titled “At Arlington Cemetery, a Confederate monument to the South and slavery still stands,” in the Washington Post. The article cites McElya’s support for the removal of Confederate monuments, particularly the Confederate Memorial in Arlington Cemetery and her suggestion that “panels that chronicle Section 16′s origins and explain the monument’s celebration of white supremacy” be constructed in its place.
The article draws from both of McElya’s books – the 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery and Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America.
On July 6th, Connecticut State Historian and Associate Professor Walter Woodward chatted with NPR’s Where We Live CT to discuss all things related to the Nutmeg State. Following the May 2020 release of his new book, Creating Connecticut: Critical Moments That Shaped a Great State, Woodward shares a wide-range of interesting CT history – covering the origins of the Pequot War, Connecticut’s long history of immigration, and even the recipe for the Connecticut Election Cake.
To listen to the interview, please click here.
On this Juneteenth Day, a quote from Professor Manisha Sinha‘s book, The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, begins an important New York Times op-ed (written by Jamelle Bouie) on “Why Juneteenth Matters.” Professor Sinha’s argument that slave resistance was crucial for the abolition movement nicely introduces Bouie’s argument that it was enslaved people “who turned a narrow conflict over union into a revolutionary war for freedom” and who continued to fight for their freedom and citizenship.
To join us in reading and reflecting on this Juneteenth, please click here.
Assistant Professor Melanie Newport published a timely op-ed today in the Washington Post titled “Bail funds are having a moment in 2020.” Following the increase in philanthropic donations to bond funds in response to the protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd, Newport traces the long history behind bail, as well as the modern jail system. She writes that “bail emerged tandem with the rise of the modern jail” and soon was used to unfairly target the poor and those perceived as dangerous to a community. However, by the mid-twentieth century, bond funds were established to challenge the unfair jailing system and pretrial process. Newport argues that this legacy of mid-century bail reform has become clear through the Black Lives Matter movement and the “public recognition of the harms of jailing.”
To read this excellent op-ed, please click here.
We would like to congratulate UConn-Stamford rising senior, Maria Oliveira ’21, for being just one of twenty students in the country selected as a Key into Public Service Scholar by The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society. This award recognizes students who have revealed a passion for working in the public sector and who demonstrate a strong academic record in the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. Scholars receive a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and will participate in a virtual conference in late June that provides training, mentoring, and reflection on pathways into active citizenship (in the tradition of Phi Beta Kappa’s founders).
As an honors history major with a minor in mathematics, Oliveira is an exceptional student. She is President of the Student Government Association at UConn-Stamford, and was named a Babbidge Scholar in 2019 and 2020, earned the 2019 Cohen and Henes Scholarship for Judaic Studies, and received the 2019 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics and the 2018 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry. Oliveira is a member of both the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi Societies, and is on the dean’s list with a 4.0 GPA following her third year. Additionally, we are must excited to read Oliveira’s upcoming honors thesis on the 16th and 17th century Portuguese empire in India, which according to Professor Edward Guimont is “truly excellent work” especially given the recent Covid-19 restrictions on materials.
To read more about Maria Oliveira’s hard work and wonderful success, please click here.