Alumni Update: Ashleigh Dean Ikemoto (Ph.D., ’16)

Dr. Ashleigh Dean Ikemoto, a 2016 alum of the doctoral program, recently sent an update on her career trajectory since graduating from Emory. As she discusses below, Dean recently published her first book, Pedro de Alfaro & the Struggle for Power in the Globalized Pacific, 1565-1644 (Rowman & Littlefield, Lexington Books). The book derives from her dissertation, which was advised by Dr. Tonio Andrade. Enjoy Ashleigh’s update below!

“Since finishing my PhD, I taught at Monmouth College in New Jersey and at Gordon State College in Georgia before beginning at Georgia College in 2018. My doctoral research was on Spain’s frustrated attempts to conquer Ming Dynasty China. This year I published a book based on my dissertation. It examines the career of Pedro de Alfaro (d. 1580), a Spanish Franciscan whose illegal entry into China sparked a chain of events that contributed to the development of an interconnected Pacific economic and diplomatic maritime zone.

“I am still engaged in the field of early modern history and still teach East Asian history, but I currently spend most of my time working on food history. I teach courses on the historical methodology of foodways, Asian and Asian-American food, Jewish food, Mediterranean food, and the history of alcohol.

“Beginning in January 2023, I will be Co-Director of Georgia College’s Global Foodways Program, which provides an undergraduate certificate and opportunities for community outreach and study abroad. I have also done two research fellowships in pursuit of food-related research and pedagogy: one in Mongolia as a Henry Luce Foundation American Center for Mongolian Studies Field School participant in 2022, and one this past summer as a Brandeis University Schusterman Center for Israeli Studies Fellow in Israeli & the West Bank.

“My time at Emory prepared me to see history as a universally-applicable discipline, letting me branch out beyond my dissertation research and broadening my perspective as an educator.”

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

Chira to Lead Inaugural Study Abroad Program to Cuba

The Emory History Department will inaugurate a study abroad program in Cuba in May 2024. Titled “History, Environment, and Society,” the 4-credit program will be led by Dr. Adriana Chira, Associate Professor of History, and be run in collaboration with the Fundación Antonio Nuñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre in Havana and Learn from Travel. Highlights of the program include: experiencing a rumba street party, visiting a tobacco farm, and snorkeling at a starfish reserve. If you are interested and/or have questions, please contact Prof. Chira at adriana [dot] chira [at] emory [dot] edu.

Students in Rodriguez’s ‘LatinX US History’ Class Make Altar for Día de los Muertos

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.

Malinda Maynor Lowery Discusses Native Pasts, Presents, and Futures in Walk & Talk with Josh Newton

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.”

Arts and Social Justice Fellow Collaborates with Mortimer’s ‘Intro. to Native American History’

Atlanta-based painter and social practice artist Bird Harris, a 2023-24 Arts & Social Justice (ASJ) fellow at Emory, has worked this past semester with Dr. Loren Michael Mortimer‘s class “HIST 285: Introduction to Native American History.” Now in its fourth year, the ASJ program pairs artists in Atlanta with faculty across schools at Emory to “reimagine an existing course, injecting a creative approach to addressing the social justice issues that surfaced within class conversations.”

Harris led students in the course on a Radical Noticing Walk through the sacred Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park during their historic trip to the 31st Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration in September of this year. That walk formed part of a broader project she has developed with students in Mortimer’s class, titled “Land as Living Memory.” Mortimer is Provost Postdoctoral Fellow in Native American history in the History Department. His book manuscript, Kaniatarowanenneh Crossings: Indigenous Power and Presence in the St. Lawrence River Watershed, 1534-1842, is under advance contract with University of Nebraska Press.

“I believe the earth has a long memory and that we, often intentionally, do not. I view my roles as an artist, mother, historian, and citizen as deeply intertwined and linked to the same core responsibilities: interrogate imbalances, reckon with hard histories, create beauty, and work towards a future of natural equilibrium. Having just moved my family from our home in New Orleans, one of the fastest disappearing land masses in the world, my work is a meditation on land loss, the multiple histories of American land, and mothering in the face of ecological collapse.”

Bird Harris, Artist Statement

Crespino on Carter’s Legacy: “One of the great Americans of the late 20th and early 21st century”

In the wake of recent news that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter would forgo further medical treatment and receive hospice care in his home, journalists from Atlanta News First (ANF) visited campus to investigate Carter’s legacy in the Emory community. ANF interviewed Dr. Joseph Crespino, Department Chair and Jimmy Carter Professor of History, about the positive impact that the former president made on generations of Emory students through public lectures, “Carter Town Halls,” and visits to classes that professors like Crespino taught. Crespino said that Carter, who was Distinguished University Professor at Emory, will “be remembered as one of the great Americans of the late 20th and early 21st century.” Watch/read the full story from the ANF: “Emory University professor says President Carter left lasting impression on students.”

Mellon Foundation Awards $2.4 million for Unique Partnership between Emory and College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN); Malinda Maynor Lowery to Co-Lead Initiatve

Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Family Professor of American History

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $2.4 million in support of a unique partnership between Emory University and the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) centered on Native and Indigenous Studies as well as the preservation of the Mvskoke language. The funding will support collaborative learning communities and research opportunities that link the campuses of Emory and the CMN. Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Family Professor of American History, helped to forge the partnership between the two institutions, including as part of the the Indigenous Language Path Working Group convened following the reappointment and expansion of President Fenves’ Task Force on Untold Stories and Disenfranchised Populations. Read more about the partnership between Emory and the CMN and the Mellon Foundation award:

Rodriguez’s Class Inspires Pioneering, Undergraduate-Curated Exhibit on Latinx History

“Consciousness is Power: A Record of Emory Latinx History”

Emory Libraries has showcased a pioneering exhibit on Latinx histories in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. Titled “Consciousness is Power: A Record of Emory Latinx History,” the exhibit was curated by Arturo Contreras, a fourth-year student majoring in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. In the Emory News Center piece about the exhibit, Contreras describes how History Department Assistant Professor Yami Rodriguez helped to inspire the project through her class “Migrants, borders and transnational communities in the U.S.” Read an excerpt from the Emory News Center Article below along with the full piece here: “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an Emory Libraries pop-up exhibit.”

As a student, Contreras wanted to integrate his community work into his academic life. In spring of 2022, he enrolled in Yamileth “Yami” Rodriguez’s special topics history class to expand as a scholar in the field of Latinx studies. Rodriguez, an assistant professor of history at Emory, inspired and supported Contreras in proposing his exhibit project to the Emory Libraries Events and Exhibits team. 

“Yami’s presence is what Emory needed, especially for students wanting to be involved with their respective communities,” Contreras says. “Her field of study and method of facilitating makes the classroom an environment of belonging and safety to explore intellectual curiosity.” 

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an Emory Libraries pop-up exhibit,” September 14, 2022.

Welcoming New Faculty: Q&A with Yami Rodriguez

In the fall of 2022 the Emory History Department welcomes Dr. Iliana Yamileth (“Yami”) Rodriguez, a historian of Latinx communities in the United States, as Assistant Professor. In the latest installment of our Welcoming New Faculty series, Dr. Rodriguez offers a glimpse into her research and teaching along with what drew her to Emory.

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

My research focuses on Latinx 20th – 21st century history, with a regional focus on Latinx communities in the southern United States. I’m especially interested in questions of culture, race, ethnicity, labor, and migration as they relate to Latinx histories and experiences. My current book project, “Mexican Atlanta: Migrant Place-Making in the Latinx South,”  traces the history of Metro Atlanta’s ethnic Mexican community formation and the region’s broader Latinx histories beginning in the mid-twentieth century. The book draws on diverse archival and personal collections, as well as original English- and Spanish-language oral histories with community members. 

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

When I started research for the dissertation-turned-book-project, it quickly became apparent how limited the Latinx historical presence was in Georgia archives. While there were some scattered collections that held primary sources related to Georgia’s Latinx communities, I primarily had to curate my own archive as I attempted to narrate this community history from a “bottom-up” perspective. Thankfully, I had the privilege of meeting and working with community members and archivists who were interested in developing archival collections on Latinx Georgia history. These kinds of collaborations have resulted in the donation of materials to UGA related to Mundo Hispánico and the Latinx (primarily Mexican) music scene in the Southeast, as well as the ongoing Latinx Georgia Oral History Project for which I conduct oral history interviews. It has been fulfilling to assist in preserving Latinx Georgia histories, and I look forward to continuing the work of archive-building at Emory. 

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

I’m looking forward to teaching courses that center issues of ethnicity, race, and migration in US history. Furthermore, I’m looking forward to teaching courses that focus on southern and local histories. For Fall 2022 I’m teaching “Race and Labor in the US,” which is an advanced seminar for students writing original research papers. In Spring 2023 I’ll be teaching courses on Latinx and southern history. 

What drew you to Emory?

I first stepped foot on Emory’s campus as an undergraduate attending the annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference hosted by the Latin American Association. As a first-generation Latina raised in Metro Atlanta, the prospect of teaching Latinx history at Emory was academically and personally exciting. Today I’m glad to join an incredibly supportive history department that is home to wonderful students, staff, and faculty. En pocas palabras, estoy feliz que de nuevo radicó en Atlanta

Welcoming New Faculty: Q&A with Laura Nenzi

In the fall of 2022 the Emory History Department welcomes Dr. Laura Nenzi, a social historian of early modern Japan, as Acting Full Professor. In the latest installment of our Welcoming New Faculty series, Dr. Nenzi offers a glimpse into her research and teaching along with what drew her to Emory.

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

I am a social historian of early modern Japan. I enjoy writing history in different scales, from the very small (the life of an ordinary person) to the large (trends spanning two and a half centuries). I have written about travel culture, commercial publishers, space, identity, and about political activism in the nineteenth century. I have published two books, both of which put women at the center of historical investigation.

My current project is a history of the night in early modern Japan (1600-1868). It started out as an antiquarian curiosity: what happened in Edo (Tokyo) after dark? Through the mid-nineteenth century Edo, the largest city in the world, home to one million people, lacked one of the key features of the modern night: public illumination. At the same time, other elements associated with the modern night—regulation, consumption, imagination, and sociability—were firmly in place. This is where my antiquarian curiosity led to a legitimate historical inquiry, for Japan’s early modern night muddles the conventional divide between the pre-industrial and the modern eras and compels us to revisit assumptions about Japan’s modernization, technology-driven histories, and ultimately about narratives of the global nighttime.

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

Any historian will tell you that the serendipitous discoveries in the archives and the small things that escalate into something big are among the best parts of our job. For me, this happened as I was thinking about the subject of my second book, Kurosawa Tokiko, a fortuneteller, poet, and rural teacher who became a political activist in the 1850s. Her actions were ultimately inconsequential, and so she is not (or was not, I should say) a well-known figure in the history of late Tokugawa Japan. My first attempt to retrieve one of her manuscript diaries ended in failure, because, I found out, it had been destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of 1945. A librarian suggested I reach out to her descendants and found a street address where they could be reached. No email. So, I wrote and mailed a letter. This led to an invitation to visit her native home, which local activists were trying to preserve, and the local archives. I showed up expecting three or four documents, and would have been happy with that. They started bringing out the envelopes. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven… at fourteen I stopped counting, they kept going. I knew right there and then that I had a book to write. To this day I remain friends with the people who helped me rescue her from oblivion. After the book came out, they used it as evidence that there is interest in her story outside the confines of her town and that her home should indeed be preserved. A win-win for everyone.

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

There are Japanese History undergraduate courses in the catalog that I am inheriting and that I am very happy to teach, but I am most excited to introduce two new ones that have been among my most popular undergraduate classes at my previous institution: The History of Tokyo and The Samurai: Fact, Fiction, Fantasy. The department has a commitment to transnational, comparative, and global themes, so I will also be offering graduate and undergraduate classes that look at various interactions between Japan and the outside world between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Some of these I have done before, and some are new and based on very recent, very exciting scholarship that I cannot wait to share with my students.

What drew you to Emory?

The departmental and institutional commitment to and support for academic excellence. The freedom to discuss issues that, more and more, are being censored elsewhere as “divisive.” My colleagues in the department, some of whom have written books and articles I have been using for years in my classes, and my colleagues in the department of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures. The possibility to train my own graduate students. Also, as someone who taught professionalization seminars for many years, I am in awe of Emory’s TATTO program and excited to be part of it. Emory’s overall commitment to diversity and inclusion. The diverse student body. Atlanta. So, pretty much everything.