Welcoming New Faculty: Q & A with Malinda Maynor Lowery

In July 2021 the Emory History Department welcomed Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, a historian and documentary film producer and member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. Dr. Lowery joins Emory as Cahoon Family Professor of American History. In the latest installment of our “Welcoming New Faculty” series, Dr. Lowery offers a glimpse into her research and teaching along with the factors that drew her to Emory.

Tell us about the focus of your research and principal current project.

I have a longstanding interest in collaborations using methods like oral history and documentary film; working with people to elevate narratives and events that are underappreciated but explain a great deal about our contemporary society has guided me through many projects. Right now I’m working on two projects. One is a media experience for a museum that focuses on the foundational role racial stereotypes have played in American entertainment. Combined with displaying objects from the museum’s collection, we are juxtaposing found footage from stand up comedy, television, film, and historical images and audio to reveal the ways that comedy both reinforces and refutes stereotypes. My other major project involves a book of essays on the shared history of Black and Indigenous Americans. Its premise is that violence and erasure are ongoing features of the United States, but Black and Indigenous Americans have been challenging and repairing that harm since the harm began. The essays are written with particular attention paid to the ways in which these communities constructed narratives of origin, wealth, and law to effectively combat assaults on sovereignty and independence. I’m writing with a sense of urgency—the US has enormous capacity to address the crises of our time, in particular climate change. As we face the prospect of human extinction, American stories that offer paradigms for belonging and possibility are more necessary than ever. Such history is a matter of life and death.

Was there a particularly memorable moment from archival or field research that has had a lasting impact on your work or career?

They come from unexpected places, for sure. My research room is the world, in a way I’m a little bit like an untrained ethnographer and I take my inspiration from everywhere. The book I’m working on now came together the day I learned that George Floyd was born in my home region of southeastern North Carolina. I had been reading, writing, and doing research in questions of race and Indigeneity for years, but that day it dawned on me in a different way. It was no longer just an abstract problem of the discipline that we were telling these stories separately, it was actually nonsensical, it was bad history. It was what an Australian aboriginal scholar, Susan Page, described to me once as a breakthrough concept—once you see it, you can’t unsee it. George Floyd was born in Fayetteville, NC, his family members still live there, only 30 minutes from where my father, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and hundreds of ancestors are buried in the Lumbee homeland. Floyd’s roots are entangled with my own, and in a Lumbee way of thinking, roots are not past, or dead. They are essential for the garden’s continued survival. Like our roots, our history should not a burden. It should be a source of nourishment from which we can continue to hold ourselves accountable to one another.

What sort of courses – undergraduate or graduate – are you most excited to offer at Emory?

I’m teaching a version of the Native American history survey that we are calling “Legal Histories of Native People”—using the law (both Indigenous law and U.S. law) as a throughline to understand a complex and sometimes contradictory history. There are over five hundred federally-recognized Indigenous nations in the United States, each with their own history and culture. Wrapping your mind around it takes a strong organizing principle, and the law helps us achieve that. On the way we read lots of primary sources, a novel, and we focus on gaining skills in research, analysis and argument, including partnerships with terrific people from the Carlos Museum, University Libraries, and the Barkley Debate Program.

What drew you to Emory?

This campus has a demonstrated commitment to reckoning with its history and there is a tremendous opportunity to do that work in partnership with the Muscogee Nation. They are the original owners of this land who produced knowledge in medicine, law, art, and so many other fields, created a language and built a nation here, where our campuses are located. Being a relevant research institution in the 21st century is more than just understanding this as a matter of history. They precede Emory’s contributions in those areas, yes, but they continue to nourish us, as roots nourish a garden.

Anderson to Present at the Decatur Book Festival on October 2

Dr. Carol Anderson will present at the upcoming Decatur Book Festival on October 2, 2021. Anderson will discuss her most recent work, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (Bloomsbury, 2021). The festival this year has been scaled back to a one-day, virtual event. Find out more information about the festival itself here along with more about participating Emory faculty via this Emory News Center piece: “Decatur Book Festival becomes one-day October event, features Emory authors.”

Doctoral Candidate Anastasiia Strakhova Creates Workshops Amidst Pandemic

Emory’s Tam Institute for Jewish Studies recently published a feature of the pandemic-era work of History doctoral candidate Anastasiia Strakhova, who was the Anne and Bill Newton Graduate Fellow at the Rose Library for 2020-21. After COVID-19 thoroughly derailed her original plans for the fellowship year, Strakhova responded by organizing two virtual workshops on grant writing and the process of conducting research during the pandemic, respectively. Strakhova won a highly competitive Summer Dissertation Writing Grant from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), which is currently supporting her work completing the dissertation, titled “Selective Emigration: Border Control and the Jewish Escape in Late Imperial Russia, 1881-1914.” Drs. Eric Goldstein and Ellie R. Schainker are advisors to Strakhova. Read the full article from the Tam Institute here: “Doctoral Candidate Creates Workshops Amidst Pandemic.”


Honors Students Present Summer 2021 Thesis Research

On Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, the department of history held its first in-person undergraduate event since March 2020. At this event, five history honors students – Ellie Coe, Sarah Gordon, Carson Greene, Willie Lieberman, and Channelle Russell – delivered presentations about the thesis research they conducted during Summer 2021. This research was made possible with history department funding provided through the George P. Cuttino Scholarship, Theodore H. Jack Award, James L. Roark Prize, and Bell I. Wiley Prize.


Dr. Sean T. Byrnes (PhD, ’14) Publishes ‘Disunited Nations’ with LSU Press

Congratulations to Dr. Sean T. Byrnes, a 2014 graduate of the PhD program in history, on the publication of his first book, Disunited Nations: US Foreign Policy, Anti-Americanism, and the Rise of the New Right. Louisiana State University published the monograph. Byrnes is an instructor of history at Western Governor’s University. Read the description of the book below and find out more here.

Disunited Nations explores American reactions to hostile world opinion, as voiced in the United Nations by representatives of the Global South from 1970 to 1984. Sean T. Byrnes suggests this challenge had a significant impact on US policy and politics, shaping the rise of the New Right and neoliberal visions of the world economy. Integrating developments in American political and diplomatic history with the international history of decolonization and the “Third World,” Disunited Nations adds to our understanding of major transitions in foreign policy as the US moved away from the expansive internationalist global commitments of the immediate postwar era toward a more nationalist and neoliberal understanding of international affairs.

‘State of Play’ Features Anderson to Discuss Race and Guns in the U.S.

The Black News Channel program State of Play, hosted by Sharon Pratt, recently featured Dr. Carol Anderson as a guest. The segment focused on the relationship between gun ownership, racial inequality, and white supremacy in the U.S. Anderson’s comments draw on her most recent book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (Bloomsbury, 2021). Anderson is Charles Howard Candler Professor, Chair of African-American Studies, and Associated Faculty in the History Department. Watch the interview here.

PhD Candidate Stephanie Bryan Named ECDS Digital Humanities Fellow

The Emory Center for Digital Scholarship recently named History PhD candidate Stephanie Bryan a Digital Humanities Fellow. As an ECDS fellow Bryan will serve as associate editor for the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Atlanta Studies. Bryan’s research is advised by Cahoon Professor of American History Patrick Allitt and Professor Allen E. Tullos, who is also co-director of the ECDS. Read an excerpt about Bryan’s research below along with the biographies of the other 2021-22 ECDS Fellows.

Bryan’s dissertation traces the habitat losses and decreased biodiversity caused by cotton and other monocultures in the southeastern United States. At the same time, it reveals how a diverse array of human practices actually supported a few marginalized indigenous species, such as opossums, persimmons, muscadines, and pokeweed. Her dissertation examines the ways in which these plants and animals, often labeled as “weeds” and “pests,” persisted and entered into the diets, cultures, economies, and politics of Euro-Americans and people of African descent, from slavery through Jim Crow.

Anderson Analyzes Race and the Second Amendment for Detroit’s WDET

Dr. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor, was recently interviewed by Detroit’s NPR affiliate station, WDET, for All Things Considered, Morning Edition. The story examines the key argument from Anderson’s newest book: that racial inequity has been embedded in U.S. gun policy since the Bill of Rights itself. For more information about Anderson’s book The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (Bloomsbury, 2021), read our previous coverage here and here. Also read an excerpt from the WDET story below along with the full piece: “How the Second Amendment Built In Inequity in the Nation’s Gun Laws.”

“Dr. Carol Anderson, an Emory University professor who has researched the disparities between whites and Blacks when it comes to the Second Amendment, says the ‘right to bear arms’ by a ‘well-regulated militia’ wasn’t so much about curbing tyranny as it was about stopping a different sort of rebellion.

“‘What that militia was about was about controlling the enslaved population and putting down slave revolts. So sitting in the middle of the Bill of Rights, we have a right to control Black people,’ she says.

“A release from enslavement did little to improve the right to own firearms. As racist Jim Crow laws took hold in the 1870s, Black people’s ability to vote and exercise their First Amendment rights were curtailed. So too were their rights of gun ownership. That’s how it stayed until the rise of the civil rights era in the 1950s. Anderson says since then, there has been a dramatic rise in gun ownership among African Americans.

Anderson Recounts Life and Death Struggles of Black WWII Vets in ‘Smithsonian’

Dr. Carol Anderson was recently quoted in a Smithsonian Magazine piece written by Bryan Greene and titled “After Victory in World War II, Black Veterans Continued the Fight for Freedom at Home.” The article examines how Black veterans fought racist attacks in the immediate post-war period, thereby helping to lay the groundwork for organized and widespread Black freedom struggles in the decades to come. Anderson is Charles Howard Candler Professor, Chair of African American Studies, and Associated Faculty in the History Department. Her most recent book is The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (Bloomsbury, 2021). Read an excerpt from the Smithsonian article below along with the full piece here.

“…when one reviews the 75 years since the violence and the government-sanctioned discrimination of 1946, it is remarkable how much African-Americans have achieved in a short span. Anderson, the historian from Emory, laments that many Americans don’t want to teach this history. ‘Because then the U.S. doesn’t make sense. Segregated neighborhoods don’t make sense. All-Black and all-white schools just don’t make sense.’ She cites also the G.I. Bill, which black servicemembers could not use to join the emerging middle-class in the suburbs. ‘The wealth gap [today]…Imagine if that that black veteran was able to hold onto that house in Palo Alto. That family would have some money, right?'”

Guidotti-Hernandez Quoted in AJC Piece

Dr. Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez, Professor of English and associated faculty in the History Department, was recently quoted in an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Titled “Children of immigrants make giving back a priority,” the piece discusses how and why many Asian and Latinx second-generation immigrants in Atlanta engage in social justice and community service. Guidotti-Hernandez is the author of Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries (Duke University Press, 2011). Read an excerpt from the AJC piece below along with the full article: “Children of immigrants make giving back a priority.”

“Children of immigrants are often influenced by their parents’ past to contribute to their communities, according to Nicole Guidotti, an English and Latinx studies professor at Emory University.

“She said it’s typical for people who’ve lived in places with economic, gender, racial and religious disparities to rely on strong communal ties for survival — and those bonds and those traditions ‘don’t stop when somebody leaves their home country.”