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.

Marissa L. Nichols (PhD ’23) Awarded Prestigious 2024 ACLS Fellowship

The Emory University History Department is proud to celebrate Dr. Marissa L. Nichols, a 2023 alum, on being awarded a 2024 ACLS Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). The ACLS Fellowship Program supports scholars who are poised to make original and significant contributions to knowledge in any field of the humanities or interpretive social sciences.

Nichols has been recognized as one of 60 exceptional early-career scholars selected through a multi-stage peer review from a pool of 1,100 applicants. ACLS Fellowships provide up to $60,000 to support scholars during six to 12 months of sustained research and writing. Awardees who do not hold tenure-track faculty appointments receive a supplement of $7,500 for research or other personal costs incurred during their award term.

Nichols currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Healthcare History and Policy in Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. The ACLS fellowship will support the writing of her book project, “The Backbone of Rural Health: Nursing and Indigenous Healing in Oaxaca.” Based on her dissertation, which was advised by Dr. Yanna Yannakakis, the manuscript traces how rural nurses and Indigenous communities shaped the expansion of rural healthcare in mid-twentieth-century Oaxaca, Mexico. It relies on research from archives and libraries in Mexico as well as oral histories conducted primarily as part of her dissertation research.

“The applications we received this year were nothing short of inspiring – a powerful reminder of the capacity of humanistic research to illuminate and deepen understanding of the workings of our world” said John Paul Christy, Senior Director of US Programs at ACLS. “As scholars face increasing challenges to pursuing and disseminating their research, we remain committed to advancing their vital work.”

Billups Investigates Global Dimensions of Anti-semitism with Support from TIJS, Lesser

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.”

Yannakakis to Serve as Visiting Professor at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris

Dr. Yanna Yannakakis, Professor of History, has been invited to serve as visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences) in Paris. Founded in 1984, the EHESS occupies a unique and leading role in French intellectual life as well as global networks of scholarly exchange. Yannakakis will be in residence from November – December 2023. She is the author, most recently, of Since Time Immemorial: Native Custom and Law in Colonial Mexico (Duke University Press, 2023).

Andrade Receives NEH Public Scholars Fellowship

Congratulations to Dr. Tonio Andrade, Professor of History, on receiving an NEH Public Scholars Fellowship. Awarded for his project “The Dutch East India Company: A Global History,” the fellowship will support the writing of a book about the factors that enabled the Dutch East India Company to become the dominant maritime power in Asia: its financing, its military strength, and its use of trade and information networks. This NEH program supports projects that lead to the “creation and publication of well-researched nonfiction books in the humanities written for the broad public.”

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.

History Faculty Receive Support from the Halle Institute for Global Research

Three History Department faculty members have received grant support from the Halle Institute for Global Research for 2023. The winners and associated research categories are:

Dr. Tehila Sasson, Assistant Professor – “The Politics of Financial Exclusion in Britain, 1960s-2000s,” (Global Perspectives on Race+, Ethnicity+, and Nation+)

Dr. Mariana P. Candido, Associate Professor – “Africans in Colonial Courts: Agency, Gender, and the Rule of Law in Angola and Cape Verde, 1800-1950s” (Halle Foundation Collaborative Research Grantees)

Dr. Brian Vick, Professor – “The Internationalization of Science and Politics in the Nineteenth Century” (URC International Research Grants)

Congratulations to the grantees!

J.E. Morgan (PhD, ’21) Named NEH Postdoctoral Fellow at the Omohundro Institute

Dr. J. E. Morgan, a 2021 graduate of the doctoral program, was recently named an NEH Postdoctoral Fellow at the Omohundro Institute in Williamsburg, VA. As an OI-NEH fellow, Morgan will continue work on her manuscript “American Concubines: Gender, Race, Law, and Power in the British Caribbean and North American South, 1661-1800.” She has previously held visiting faculty positions at the University of Florida and Emory University. Morgan’s dissertation, “American Concubines: Gender, Race, Law, and Power in the British Caribbean and North American South, 1661-1800,” was advised by Drs. Leslie Harris and Yanna Yannakakis.