The History Department recently received an alumni update from Scott Benigno, a former Honors student who graduated in the spring of 2022. From May 2022 through July 2023, Scott worked as a Program Associate in the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative’s Africa Division in Washington, DC. There, he supported the administration/operations and technical work of programs in Sudan, the Gambia, and their regional East Africa programs in Uganda and Tanzania. These were development programs on topics such as supporting freedom of expression, protecting environmental defenders, transitional justice initiatives, and more. In June 2023, Scott had the amazing opportunity to travel to Kampala, Uganda, to work from their Kampala office, meet with local partners, and support a programmatic closeout.
In August 2023, Scott took a new job as a Project Manager at Management Systems International (MSI), a private international development firm. There, Scott works on USAID-funded contracts in Ethiopia and Ukraine on topics relating to monitoring and evaluation and anti-corruption. This fall, he traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine, for two weeks to support his project’s administrative and operational pre-closeout measures.
Scott writes: “It has been a busy 1-2 years since graduating and, while not technically history work, it is impossible to work internationally without using the past to make sense of the present.”
Explore his latest Foreign Brief article, where Scott provides insights and analysis on the Niger junta’s legal appeal to lift ECOWAS sanctions on humanitarian grounds: “ECOWAS Court Rules on Niger.”
Are you an Emory History alumnus? Please send us updates on your life and work!
Professor Hank Klibanoff, a Professor of Journalism and Associated Faculty in the History Department, recently published an article in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Titled, “When Rosalynn Carter tapped Gerald Ford’s daughter to serve on mental health advisory board,” the piece describes how the selection of Susan Ford Bales helped to maintain Carter’s connection to longtime friend Betty Ford. Rosalynn Carter passed away on November 19, 2023. She and her husband, former president Jimmy Carter, had strong ties to Emory. Read the full AJC article by Professor Klibanoff.
Why would a woman falsely accuse her husband’s youthful step-grandmother of attempting to murder her with a poisoned enema? Dr. Johanna Luthman, Professor of History at the University of North Georgia, first learned of this accusation, which took place at the court of James I of England in 1618, while she was writing her dissertation at Emory. Now, she has explored the question fully in her new book, Family and Feuding at the Court of James I: The Lake and Cecil Scandals (Oxford UP). The sensational accusation was one of many levied between the families of Sir Thomas Lake, Secretary of State, and Thomas Cecil, Earl of Exeter, both members of the king’s Privy Council and at the pinnacle of power at the Jacobean court. The two families were joined by the marriage of Sir Thomas’s daughter Anne to Exeter’s grandson William Cecil, Lord Roos. The souring of that marriage led to a years-long feud between the families, which caused sensational scandals, political downfalls, international man-hunts, and lengthy trials where King James himself sat as a judge, a Biblical Solomon dispensing justice. This is the first detailed account of the Lake and Cecil feud. It provides a window into Jacobean society, politics, religion, medicine, ideas about gender and sexuality, and more.
Earlier this semester students in Dr. Yami Rodriguez’s course “LatinX US History” produced an altar for Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, on the first floor of Bowden Hall. Practiced in Mexico, especially, and throughout other Latin American countries, these altars are meant to celebrate loved ones who have passed and invite them to reunite with those still living. The “LatinX US History” course invited all to participate in the practice by displaying a picture or making an offering to a loved one. Read more about this wonderful project below.
Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Professor of American History, recently joined Senior Vice President of Advancement Josh Newton for an edition of his series Walk & Talk with Josh Newton. Lowery, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and a historian of Native America, discusses her work as a scholar, teacher, documentary filmmaker, and tribal community member. Since coming to Emory from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021, Lowery has been instrumental in facilitating Emory’s reckoning with practices of dispossession and colonialism, including by helping to craft the university’s Land Acknowledgement and creating a deep, reciprocal partnership with the College of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Lowery will lead Emory’s new Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies, set to launch in the 2023-24 academic year. Watch her conversation with Newton, which also includes discussion of what drew her to the History Department, here: “Understanding the present begins in the past.”
Drs. Chris Suh and Maria R. Montalvo were selected to present their research at Emory College’s “First Fridays” lecture series this fall. The series highlights faculty work centered on race, ethnicity, and social justice. Suh, who is an Assistant Professor of History, studies histories of race, ethnicity, and inequality and specializes in transpacific connections between the United States and East Asia and Asian American history. His first book, The Allure of Empire: American Encounters with Asians in the Age of Transpacific Expansion and Exclusion, was published by Oxford UP earlier this year. Montalvo is a historian of slavery, capitalism, and the law in the nineteenth-century United States. Her current book project, tentatively titled “The Archive of the Enslaved: Power, Enslavement, and the Production of the Past,” is a legal history of slavery and capitalism in antebellum New Orleans. Read more about their research a ‘First Fridays’ lecture series returns Nov. 3and the First Fridays series here: “‘First Fridays’ lecture series returns Nov. 3.”
“‘Bombs were used in China certainly by the middle of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.)—and used in the many wars the Song and its neighbors fought, hurled by hand or by catapult. It’s known that when Ming Dynasty leaders rebuilt and renovated the Great Wall, they defended it with gunpowder weapons,’ Tonio Andrade, a professor of Chinese and Global History at Emory University, who was not involved in the latest research, told Newsweek.
“‘In fact, the Ming Dynasty had more soldiers equipped with gunpowder weapons than any other state in the world, and it was in the Ming and in the preceding Yuan Dynasty (toward the end) that the gun evolved out of a weapon often called the fire-lance, a sort of stick with a barrel at the end that was loaded with gunpowder and, often, various other items, like rocks or iron. It’s a fascinating history.'”
Sixth-year doctoral candidate Robert Billups, who is currently the 2023–2024 Ambrose Monell Foundation Funded National Fellow in Technology and Democracy for the Jefferson Scholars Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia, recently authored a reflection about his research on the global dimensions of anti-semitism for Emory’s Tam Institute for Jewish Studies (TIJS). Billups recounts how a story heard in his childhood home of Meridian, Mississippi, about the attempted bombing of a local temple led him to research in Emory’s archives and, ultimately, to discern links between anti-Black racial violence and anti-semitism among right-wing extremists. Billups realized those links had global dimensions, as well, and secured financial support from the TIJS to conduct research abroad. With the counsel and support of Dr. Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History, Billups chose to pursue his inquiry in the British Foreign Office in London, which contained mid-20th century records from officials in British consulates and embassies around the world worried about the resurgence of fascism and antisemitism. Read Billups’ full reflection here: “Graduate Student Researches Antisemitism at the British Archives.”