Reflections on Inaugural Study Abroad to Poland led by Schainker

In the summer of 2023, Dr. Ellie R. Schainker, Arthur Blank Family Foundation Associate Professor of Modern European Jewish History, led an inaugural study abroad trip to Poland. Schainker taught the course “Jews of Poland: History and Memory” in collaboration with doctoral student Olivia Cocking to sixteen Emory undergraduates. The ten-day, one-credit program was supported by the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, which provided significant subsidies for undergraduate participants through the Berger Family Fund. One of the undergraduate participants, Emory College 2023 graduate Sasha Rivers, reflected on the experience for the TIJS. Read her post here: “Journey to Poland: A Student’s Perspective.”

Anjuli Webster Awarded 2023 NISS Dissertation Grant

Anjuli Webster

Doctoral student Anjuli Webster has been awarded a 2023 Dissertation Grant from the National Institute of Social Sciences (NISS) to support fieldwork for her dissertation, titled “Fluid Empires: Histories of Environment and Sovereignty in Southern Africa, 1750-1900.” Webster is currently conducting research in South Africa, Eswatini, and Mozambique. The NISS funding will support additional research in Mozambique central to two chapters of her dissertation. Read a quote from Webster about her work below, along with an illuminating feature story about Webster written by Karina Antenucci for the Laney Graduate School.

“Understanding the afterlives of empire is a central concern of my work as a historian. Histories of imperialism and colonialism have not only shaped our present climate crisis, but they have also undermined indigenous modes of responding to and managing ecological emergency across the world.”

Webster Awarded a 2023 NISS Dissertation Grant

Fourth-year doctoral candidate Anjuli Webster has been awarded a 2023 dissertation grant from the National Institute of Social Sciences. The NISS grant will support research for Webster’s dissertation, titled “Fluid Empires: Histories of Environment and Sovereignty in southern Africa, 1750-1900.” History department faculty members Clifton CraisMariana P. CandidoYanna Yannakakis, and Thomas D. Rogers serve as advisors for Webster’s dissertation. The NISS typically awards no more than four grants each year, spanning the fields of Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

Olivia Cocking Receives Prestigious Chateaubriand Fellowship

Fourth-year doctoral candidate Olivia Cocking has received a prestigious Chateaubriand Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), a grant administered by the Cultural Services of the Embassy of France in the United States. The fellowship will support research in France for Cocking’s dissertation, which examines how migrants from the French empire navigated municipal courts and social welfare programs in the metropole between 1919 and the 1960s. Cocking’s dissertation is advised by Drs. Judith A. Miller and Tehila Sasson.


Nine History Doctoral Students Recognized at May 2023 Commencement

At the May 2023 Emory Commencement nine PhD candidates from the History Department were recognized for completing their degrees. Some of the students received their diplomas in the summer or fall of 2022 but were not honored until the 2023 ceremony. The students represent more than seven areas of research specialization and are pursuing an array of professional positions inside and outside the academy. In the table below, find the names, advisors, and dissertations of these recently-minted PhDs.

StudentAdvisorGraduation YearDissertation
Hannah R. AbrahamsonYanna Yannakakis2022Women of the Encomienda: Households and Dependents in Sixteenth-Century Yucatan, Mexico
Stephanie BryanAllen Tullos2023‘Domesticated Outlaws’: Indigenous Species and Monocultural Capitalism in the American South
Alexander Maximilian CorsYanna Yannakakis2022Newcomers and New Borders: Migration, Settlement, and Conflict over Land along the Mississippi River, 1750-1820
Mary Grace Gibbs DuPreeJudith Evans Grubbs2022Faces of David: Late Antique and Medieval David Cycles in East and West
Alexandra Lemos ZagonelJeffrey Lesser and Thomas Rogers2022Blessed Generation: Countercultural Youth, Music, and Spirituality in Authoritarian Brazil
Arturo Luna LorancaJavier Villa-Flores2023The Dog Remains: Mexico City’s Canine Massacres During the Enlightenment, 1770-1821
Timothy Reid RomansTonio Andrade2022The Rise and Fall of the Suetsugu Maritime Dynasty of Tokugawa Japan, 1571-1676
Madelyn StoneClifton Crais2022Sovereignty Work: Policing Colonial Capitalism in South Africa, 1867–1936
Anastasiia StrakhovaEric Goldstein and Ellie Schainker2022Selective Emigration: Border Control and the Jewish Escape in Late Imperial Russia, 1881-1914

First-Year Graduate Students Present Research at Hi-Five Presentations

The first-year cohort of doctoral students recently presented their research at the History Department’s annual Hi-Five gathering. Adapted from the University of Queensland’s Three Minute Thesis model, the Hi-Five charges students to put forth a sound, compelling, and accessible distillation of their research. Five first-year History Department students presented their work:

See images of the event below and learn more about these students’ research on their graduate student webpages.

Graduate Students Ursula Rall and Ayssa Yamaguti Norek Win 2023 Beveridge Grant from the AHA

Congratulations to third-year graduate students Ursula Rall and Ayssa Yamaguti Norek on winning the 2023 Albert J. Beveridge Grant from the American Historical Association. Rall and Norek were among just eleven researchers nationwide to receive the grant, which supports research in the Western hemisphere (the United States, Canada, and Latin America). Emory was the only institution to have two awardees. Rall’s dissertation, advised by Drs. Yanna Yannakakis and Javier Villa-Flores, examines the spatial mobility of Black women within and between Mexico City, Puebla, and Veracruz from roughly 1580 until 1740. Norek’s dissertation, “The incarceration of female political prisoners in Brazil’s Military Dictatorship (1964-1985),” is advised by Drs. Jeffrey Lesser and Thomas D. Rogers.

Billups Publishes Article in the ‘Journal of American History’

Doctoral Candidate William Robert Billups has published a new article in the March 2023 issue of the Journal of American History. Titled “Martyred Women and White Power since the Civil Rights Era: From Kathy Ainsworth to Vicki Weaver,” the article analyzes how the martyrdom of two women by white supremacists contributed to the development of transnational white supremacist networks and ideologies. Billups is currently completing his dissertation, “‘Reign of Terror’: Anti–Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1955–1971,” which is advised by Drs. Joseph Crespino and Allen Tullos. Read a summary of the article, published on the blog of the Organization of American Historians, below.

In 1968, Mississippi policemen fatally shot Kathy Ainsworth, a Ku Klux Klan bomber and pregnant schoolteacher, during a sting operation. Decades later, a Federal Bureau of Investigation sniper killed Vicki Weaver, an Idaho white supremacist mother, during a standoff. Both women became martyrs, and today transnational white supremacist communities revere them as antigovernment symbols. William Robert Billups tracks Ainsworth and Weaver across far-right collective memory to analyze the development of modern white supremacist ideologies and networks. He argues that discourses about persecuted white mothers helped spawn far-right antistatism. His study provides new insights into women’s roles in white supremacist movements and demonstrates how anxieties about white motherhood and procreation have fueled antigovernment extremism since the civil rights era.

Hannah Rose Abrahamson (PhD, ’22) Wins Premio LASA Maureen Ahern Doctoral Dissertation Award

Dr. Hannah Rose Abrahamson, a 2022 doctoral program graduate, recently won the Maureen Ahern Award from the Latin American Studies Association – Colonial Section for her dissertation. Titled “Women of the Encomienda: Households and Dependents in Sixteenth-Century Yucatan, Mexico,” the thesis was advised by Dr. Yanna Yannakakis, Associate Professor of History. Abrahamson is currently Assistant Professor of History at the College of the Holy Cross. Her research and teaching interests include early modern Latin America, indigenous history, the Atlantic world, colonialism, gender, sexuality, and the digital humanities. Abrahamson is among three former or current Emory History Department members recognized by prizes in the 2023 LASA awards cycle. Read the abstract of Abrahamson’s dissertation below.

Over the course of the sixteenth century, multiple Spanish women in Yucatan, Mexico gained and maintained authority over encomiendas, royal grants to Native tributary labor. While the Spanish Crown most often awarded these grants to men as recompense for military service in the conquest of the Americas, dozens of women inherited and held the privileged status of encomendera (encomienda grant holder). My dissertation situates women at the center of encomiendas, colonial households, and relationships of dependent labor and domestic servitude during the first century of colonization in Yucatan. I trace women’s involvement in these institutions from the establishment of colonial settlements in the region in the 1540s through the late sixteenth century: the period during which the encomienda constituted the sole basis of Yucatan’s economy. The reciprocal, yet uneven, relationships of dependency that characterized the encomienda were mirrored in colonial households where Spanish, Maya, and African- descended peoples enacted and contested colonial power dynamics in their everyday lives. I argue that Spanish and Maya women’s increasing involvement in the encomienda over the course of the sixteenth century stabilized the institution and further entrenched it in the region, allowing it to endure in Yucatan for nearly three centuries. This project contributes to discussions regarding the nature of colonialism by examining the means through which women exercised power in European settlements. Spanish women became colonial authorities in their own right through their roles as encomenderas. I also examine instances of resistance in which Maya and African dependents pushed against encomenderas’ power through legal and extralegal means. My project provides new insight regarding how Spanish, Maya, and African women gained, maintained, and contested authority in peripheral settlements throughout the Americas where wealth was grounded in Indigenous labor and agricultural production.

Billups Named National Fellow by the Jefferson Scholars Foundation

Doctoral candidate William (Robert) Billups has received the prestigious National Fellowship from the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at the University of Virginia. The program “supports outstanding scholars at leading institutions of higher education who are completing dissertations in United States politics, with an emphasis on historical and institutional analyses of politics, public policy, and foreign relations.” Billups’s dissertation, “‘Reign of Terror’: Anti–Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1955–1971,” is advised by Drs. Joseph Crespino and Allen Tullos. The fellowship will provide Billups with financial support during the completion of his dissertation, mentorship from an additional renowned scholar in the field, and opportunities for assembling research networks and cultivating leadership skills. Billups also recently received a fellowship from the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. That fellowship will support Billups’s investigation of violent opposition to school desegregation via court-ordered busing during the 1970s.