Aldridge Presents Research at OAH Conference

Emory History PhD student Andrew Aldridge presented his research at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians this past spring. Aldridge was one of five students to present during the Graduate Student Lightning Research Round. His talk examined Blackness and criminality through the prism of cultural products like novels, comics, music, and television. Aldridge is beginning his third year in the program, and his research is advised by Drs. Carl Suddler and Daniel LaChance.

Brandeis Invites Suh to Discuss ‘The Allure of Empire’

0060801-23KH Chris Suh, Assistant Professor US in the World; Asian American History; Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity; the Progressive Era enviro portrait F/Emory News Ctr April Hunt

Earlier this year Dr. Chris Suh, Assistant Professor of History, delivered a lecture for Brandeis University entitled “Between the ‘American Century’ and the ‘Asian Century’: Toward a New Paradigm for Understanding Racial Inequality.” Drawing on his 2023 book The Allure of Empire: American Encounters with Asians in the Age of Transpacific Expansion and Exclusion (Oxford UP), Suh’s lecture addressed the influence of American geopolitical interests on Asian race relations as well as historical and contemporary racial tensions in the US. Student journalist Sophia De Lisi covered the lecture for the Justice, Brandeis’s independent student newspaper. Find a quote from her insightful article below, along with the full piece: “Professor Chris Suh explains how American geopolitics inform Asian race-relations.”

“Like all books, my book is a product of its time,” Professor Suh said. “I was writing it in the late 2010s, and the early 2020s, where there was a lot of anxiety about whether U.S. international dominance was finally coming to an end.” He explained that the second half of the 20th Century was characterized by the United States’ Cold War victory against the Soviet Union, and that this victory gave the U.S. the foundation necessary to lead an “unipolar world order.” Suh referenced Henry Luce’s essay, “The American Century” to expand on this period of global dominance that the U.S. had built over the 20th century.

Suh explained that despite the U.S.’ past successes, the 21st Century has seen potential for Asian countries — given their rising economic, military and political power — to overtake the lead that the United States has held for the last century. He expanded on the Biden administration’s current foreign policy strategy in Asia, stating that it is “very much a resumption” of former President Barack Obama’s administration policy, known as “Pivot to Asia” and “Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific.” Suh said that the intent of these policies was to both reduce tensions in the Middle East after the Iraq and Afghanistan War and give the U.S. a way to enter “strategic alliances” with Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand “in response to the rise of the [People’s Republic of China.]”

Billups Investigates Global White Supremacist Networks in South Africa

Earlier this year, Emory History Department PhD candidate William (Robert) Billups investigated connections between antisemitic networks in South Africa and civil rights opponents in the US South. Emory’s Tam Institute for Jewish Studies (TIJS) supported Billups’ research on this topic, which included three weeks at two South African archives, the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and the University of the Free State’s Archive for Contemporary Affairs. Records from those archives helped Billups to understand the links between some US civil rights opponents and far-right groups outside of the US.

In an excellent reflection on the research published by the TIJS, Billups writes:

“As KKK members increasingly perpetrated violence in the civil rights South, some white South Africans sought to join US-based KKK organizations. To study South African Klan members, I spent two weeks in the Archive for Contemporary Affairs in Bloemfontein. Following guidance from the South African historian Milton Shain and the archivist Lwazi Mestile, I focused on the papers of Ray Rudman, South Africa’s self-described Klan leader during the 1950s and 1960s. Rudman’s papers contained letters and recruitment materials about joining a Klan organization based in Waco, Texas.

I expected white South African Klan recruits to describe their opposition to the anti-apartheid movement, a liberation movement that in many ways paralleled the US civil rights movement, as their main motive for joining. Some did. But to my surprise, antisemitic beliefs that far-right South Africans shared with US-based Klan leaders seemed to them an equally important connection, if not a more important one. They described entering the Klan as joining US white supremacists in fighting the supposed international Jewish conspiracy that they falsely believed controlled world communism, the civil rights movement, and the anti-apartheid movement.”

Billups received his doctorate in May 2024. He completed his dissertation, “‘Reign of Terror’: Anti–Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1954–1976,” under the advisement of Drs. Joseph Crespino and Allen Tullos. Billups was recognized for his stellar record of research with the Laney Graduate School’s Outstanding Scholarly Research Award.

Alumni Update: Cameron Katz (BA, ’21)

The History Department was excited to receive an update from Cameron Katz, a 2021 Emory graduate who completed a double major in U.S. History and English Creative Writing. Since graduation Cameron has been working for Made By Us, a coalition of 200+ history museums – from the Smithsonian to local organizations (like the Atlanta History Center!) – working to connect with 18-30-year-olds. She creates tons of history content on social media (check us out @HistoryMadeByUs), oversees media partnerships, and is working to build a community of young people passionate about history. Through Made By Us, she’s also been able to write about all kinds of history as a contributor to Teen Vogue. She is grateful to the Emory History Department for inspiring a love of research and teaching her how to write in an accessible and engaging way. Cameron also recently returned from a trip to South Korea, where she was visiting another Emory alum.

Are you an Emory History alum? Please send us updates on your life and work!

Celebrating Senior Prize Recipients

The Undergraduate Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the History Department’s Undergraduate Senior Prizes for 2023-2024. They are:

George P. Cuttino Prize for the best record in European History: Harrison Helms

James Z. Rabun Prize for the best record in American History: Joe Beare

The African, Asian, and Latin American History Prize for the best record in African, Asian, and Latin American History: Orion Jones and Yingyi Tan

Matthew A. Carter Citizen-Scholar Award: Anhhuy Do

These awards were presented at our in-person Senior Celebration on Wednesday, May 1, 2pm – 3:30pm, in the Emory Student Center. Congratulations to all!

Celebrating 2024 Graduates

From Left to Right: Dr. Jason Morgan Ward, Dr. William (Robert) Billups, Dr. Georgia Brunner, Dr. Marissa L. Nichols, Dr. Yanna Yannakakis, Dr. Kyungtaek Kwon, Dr. Matthew J. Payne, Dr. Melissa Faris Gayan.

The Emory History Department celebrates the graduate and undergraduate students who are completing their studies and degrees this spring. Five Emory History doctoral students will be recognized at the Laney Graduate School Diploma Ceremony on Friday, May 10. They are:

  • William (Robert) Billups, “‘Reign of Terror’: Anti–Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1954–1976,” advised by Drs. Joseph Crespino and Allen Tullos
  • Georgia Brunner, “Building a Nation: Gender, Labor and the Politics of Nationalism in Colonial Rwanda, 1916-1962,” advised by Drs. Clifton Crais and Mariana P. Candido
  • Melissa Faris Gayan,* “The First Crack in the Ice: How the 1956 Protests Altered Soviet Cold War Hegemony,” advised by Dr. Matthew Payne
  • Kyungtaek Kwon,* “Identifying the City: Komsomol’sk-na-Amure Transformation from Military Outpost to the City of Youth in the Soviet Far East, 1932-1982,” advised by Dr. Matthew Payne
  • Marissa L. Nichols,* “Nurses, Indigenous Authorities, and Rural Health in Oaxaca, Mexico, 1934-1970,” advised by Dr. Yanna Yannakakis

*completed in summer 2023

Find out more information about all Emory commencement events here.

Congratulations, graduates!

Alumni Update: Tom Czerwinski (BA, ’03)

Calakmul ruins, Campeche

We are delighted to share news from Tom Czerwinski (BA, 2003), who has been a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State and career member of the Foreign Service for the past 10 years.  With a portfolio focused on management of Embassy operations, his postings have taken him to Washington DC, Mongolia, Mexico, Cyprus, and his current assignment as Management Officer at the U.S. Consulate General Durban in Durban, South Africa.  He and his family move every two-to-three years, and his next posting will be in Bogota, Columbia. While at the Department of State, Tom has learned Mongolian and Spanish.

His history credentials have come in handy in the Foreign Service, as he is able to quickly learn the facts on the ground and how current U.S. foreign policy connects with history, whether it’s the deep linkages between Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and the U.S. due to the 19th-century sisal trade (did you know that in 1900, Merida has more millionaires per capita than Paris and London?), or the centuries-old history that keeps Nicoasia, Cyprus the last remaining divided capital in Europe (and where the UN-protected “green zone” running through the center of the capital remains perpetually frozen in 1974, including a basement full of “new” 1970’s era Toyota Corollas, each with zero miles on the odometer).  It’s been an amazing, rewarding, and sometimes challenging adventure.

Tom is always happy to talk to any Emory students or alumni about the Foreign Service – just look him up on Emory Connects to get in touch.

Are you an Emory History alum? Please send us updates on your life and work!

Three History Majors Named to Emory 100 Senior Honorary

Congratulations to Senior History Majors Joe Beare, Anhhuy Do, and Harrison Helms on being inducted into the Emory Senior 100 Honorary. Every year, the Emory Alumni Board and the Student Alumni Board recognize the success of outstanding students and identify emerging alumni leaders from the current senior class through the 100 Senior Honorary. This year’s induction ceremony was February 6. These seniors are campus leaders, thought provokers, dynamic athletes, academic mentors, and community influencers. They are committed to their passions and pursuits, and they have made significant contributions to the Emory community. And each one is also committed to making significant contributions to their alumni communities around the world.

Lal in TIME: “What a Mughal Princess Can Teach Us About Feminist History”

Dr. Ruby Lal, Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies and Associated Faculty in the History Department, recently author an article in TIME, “What a Mughal Princess Can Teach Us About Feminist History.” Lal’s piece centers on her latest book, Vagabond Princess: The Great Adventures of Gulbadan (Yale, 2023), which chronicles the life of Princess Gulbadan, a fascinating figure who travelled widely and authored the sole extant work of prose by a woman in the early decades of the Mughal Empire. Lal’s article also addresses the marginalization of feminist and women’s histories, both in Gulbadan’s time and our own. Read an excerpt from the TIME article below along with the full article. Also listen to an interview with Lal on WABE’s City Lights.

“Books and chronicles from centuries past are precious gifts. Holding onto their words, we can delve into the beauty and torments of human life. With such rare possessions, we come close to another time; watch her creation, her uncertainties, her discoveries, the stuff of history. But uncovering feminist history is a slow process, and too often, women historians are the only ones willing to do that work. Beveridge taught herself Persian to reveal Gulbadan’s history. I have spent years combining hundreds of documents to assemble the adventures of daring and imaginative Mughal women.”

Olivia Cocking Wins Award from the Society for French Historical Studies

Graduate student Olivia Cocking has won a Farrar Memorial Award from the Society for French Historical Studies to continue her dissertation research in France. Her project, “Droits assurés, droits bafoués: Race, Nationality, and the Right to Living Well in France After Empire,” has involved research in Paris, Lille, and Marseilles thus far. Cocking has presented her work at the French Colonial Historical Society Conference (Martinique) and the European Association for Urban History Conference (Antwerp, Belgium). Cocking also holds a 3-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship. Her dissertation committee is co-chaired by Professors Tehila Sasson and Judith Miller and includes Prof. Mariana Candido.