The Emory History Department welcomes the incoming graduate cohort for the fall semester of 2023, comprised of doctoral students Abiodun Ademiluwa and Beverly Val-Addo. A native of Nigeria, Ademiluwa received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classics from the University of Ibadan and a master’s in history from Northern Illinois University. Her research centers on Afro-European encounters, especially the intersections of power relations, gender, and violence between Europeans and Yoruba women in the Atlantic World. Val-Addo received her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland – College Park. Her work examines the history of the African diaspora in West Africa, with a focus on the intersections of ethnicity, gender, and migration in a pre-early colonial context. Ademiluwa and Val-Addo will both work under the advisement of Dr. Mariana P. Candido, Winship Distinguished Research Professor of History, 2023-2026 and Professor, and Dr. Clifton Crais, Professor of History.
Dr. Jinyu Liu has joined the faculty of the Emory History Department as Acting Betty Gage Holland Professor of Roman History. Dr. Liu was previously Professor of Classical Studies at DePauw University, where she also served as Department Chair from 2013-’16. Her research interests include: social relations in Roman cities, the non-elite in the Roman Empire, Latin epigraphy, the reception of Graeco-Roman classics in China, and translating classical texts in a global context. In the Q&A below, Dr. Liu offers insights on her research and teaching as well as the factors that drew her to Emory.
Tell us about the focus of your research and principal current project.
My main research area is the socio-economic history of ancient Rome through the examination of inscriptions and other written documents, particularly those related to the lower classes, social hierarchies, social and geographical mobilities, and economy. My work engages with an ongoing effort to write Roman history “from below”, which decenters the “elite” at Rome and systematically (re)constructs the historical experiences, organizational and survival strategies, expectations, aspirations, and self-representation of those below the ruling classes in the ancient Roman World. A particular focus of my research in this area lies in the study of the associations/guilds (collegia) in the Roman Empire. I have published a monograph and a number of articles on the topic. My current and ongoing projects in the area of socio-economic history of Rome have two directions: 1) comparative studies of the associative phenomenon in ancient China and Rome; and 2) investigations into the less rosy aspect of the experiences of (im)migrants in the early Roman Empire, in reaction to a general tendency in the existing scholarship that leans towards a positive, perhaps overly positive, assessment of the interaction between the (im)migrants and the locals in the Roman World.
Another research interest of mine is the reception, translation, and dissemination of Greek and Roman antiquity in China. I have published an edited volume in English (with T. Sienkewicz, Ovid in China: Reception, Translation, and Comparison. Brill, 2022), a two-volume collective book in Chinese (New Frontiers of Research on Ovid in a Global Context. Peking University Press, 2021), and several articles in reception studies. I am also serving as the Principal Instigator for a collaborative project on “Translating the Complete Corpus of Ovid’s Poetry into Chinese with Commentaries”. Selected translations and commentaries from the project that have been published in journals are made openly available on “Dickinson Classics Online“, a platform that the Classics Department of Dickinson College helped create in 2015 to provide resources in Graeco-Roman history and Greek/Latin literature to the Sinophone users.
Was there a particularly memorable moment from archival or field research that has had a lasting impact on your work or career?
My visit to the old Roman sites such as Ostia, Pompeii, and Herculaneum many years ago left a long-lasting impact on me. Deprived of the old residents/visitors, odor, sound, and the other features of these places when they were still alive and active, they are sites for imagination and reconstruction. The ancient people did leave many clues in the form of epitaphs, honorific monuments, buildings of various types and sorts, tombs, electoral paintings on the exterior walls of the houses, graffiti, and so on. Another very interesting site is Isola Sacra, which is a large-scale cemetery from the Roman times. There you will see house-shaped tombs, burial slots saved for freedmen and freedwomen, a carving with a midwife assisting childbirth, and so on. The world of the dead has preserved the clues for the world of the living. My dissertation and later work have mostly concerned with reading and making connections of these clues in a contextualized manner.
What sort of courses – undergraduate or graduate – are you most excited to offer at Emory?
I am excited to teach “History of Rome” and “Slavery in Ancient Rome” in the coming semester. I also greatly look forward to offering “Uncovering the Marginalized Voices”, “Being Ordinary Romans”, “The Political Culture of Ancient Rome”, “Rome and China Compared”, and “Exile in Antiquity: History, Law, Material conditions, and Literature” in the future.
What drew you to Emory?
I was impressed with how intellectually advanced the students were and appreciated their curiosities and probing questions during my visit to Emory. I have also tremendously appreciated the high morale and energy in the History Department and on campus, as well as the friendliness of the staff members. My work also intersects and overlaps with the expertise of several History Department faculty, including colleagues working on history from “bottom up”, empire, expatriates, slavery, and reception studies. It is hard to resist the prospect of working with a number of highly accomplished historians in an immensely supportive environment, where there is real potential for methodological and thematic synergy within the Department and with the Classics Department.
Dr. Carol Anderson was recently quoted in a NPR article about the expulsion of two Black legislators, Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) and Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville), from the Tennessee State House of Representatives. Pearson and Jones joined an act of nonviolent civil disobedience on the House floor calling for gun safety legislation in the wake of the April 2023 shooting at Nashville’s the Covenant School. Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), a white legislator who also participated in the protest, was spared expulsion by a single vote. Anderson provides illuminating context about the racial and racist dimension of this episode. Read an excerpt from the NPR article below along with the full piece here: “Power, race, and fragile democracy in Tennessee.”
Racism was also coursing through the words spoken and the tone taken towards the two young Black legislators, says Carol Anderson. She says the formal rules of the expulsion hearings barely concealed a simmering rage on the part of white legislators.
“White rage is all about putting you back in your place,” Anderson says.
“White rage demands that people of color, and women, stay in their place in the racial structure and the patriarchal structure,” she says.
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.
Professor of History Brian Vick edited the recently published revised version of the volume in the German History in Documents and Images website on the era from 1815 to 1866, covering the period from the Congress of Vienna to German unification. Vick added over fifty new texts, images, maps, and objects of material culture along with accompanying short introductions to each item, plus a revised overall introduction. Areas of emphasis for the new primary sources include gender, German Jewish life, the environment, material culture, and above all the activities of “Germans beyond Borders,” that is, people from the German lands engaging as transnational actors around the world.
The German History in Documents and Images website project is hosted by the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC and is co-sponsored by the German Research Foundation, the ZEIT Foundation of Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius, and the Max Kade Foundation. The sources, all available in both English and German on an enhanced digital platform, are meant to promote research and teaching and learning for a variety of academic audiences.
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.”
During the fall of 2022, Mariana P. Candido, Adriana Chira, and Mariana Armond Dias Paes of the Max Plank Institute for Legal History received a three-year grant from Emory’s Office of the Provost. Titled “Land Dispossession, Inequality, and the Legacies of Slavery in Africa and Latin America,” the project is one of five that will receive a part of $1.4 million in support. The three historians will use the resources to conduct research, develop a digital platform, and initiate several pedagogical innovations focusing on land politics and sustainability in post-emancipation societies in Africa and Latin America. They will be engaging with primary sources located in endangered archives, including Cuba, Cape Verde, and Angola, while also developing new ways of sharing some of this material through public-facing platforms and new courses at undergraduate and graduate level.
The three project leaders point out that their work emerges from a belief that the humanities, and historical approaches in particular, are fields that are uniquely positioned to offer new ways of thinking about land dispossession, rural inequalities, and environmental sustainability. According to Candido, Chira, and Dias Paes, such approaches allow scholars to examine dispossession in the long term, exploring how present-day expulsion from the land is rooted in socio-economic structures dating back to slavery and colonialism. A humanistic approach to land dispossession also sheds light on alternative modes of community-building and property ownership that emerged from below that more quantitative social scientific approaches have ignored. Dias Paes emphasizes that “much of the legal framework of today´s legal system in what concerns property was created in the nineteenth century. Thus, if we want to reform these legal systems in the sense of shifting the current model of exploitation, we must discuss their roots and de-naturalize legal ideas such as ‘absolute ownership right,’ ‘legal personality,’ and so on.”
At the core of the project is a fundamental commitment to collaboration as a tool for writing and practicing better history. Candido and Chira are extremely excited to develop their collaboration with Mariana Dias Paes (with whom Candido has been working for a few years now), an ambitious visionary thinker in the field of legal history. Dias Paes is a Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory (Frankfurt am Main) where she heads the project “Global Legal History on the Ground: Court Cases in African Archives.” In the framework of the project, she has been digitizing over 30,000 court cases stored at the Cape Verde National Archives. Since 2017, together with Mariana Candido and Juelma Ngãla (ISCED-Benguela, Angola), she organized the court cases collection of the Benguela District Court (Angola). Her research focuses on the social and legal history of the South Atlantic (Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau), between the 17th and the 20th centuries. She has published extensively on issues pertaining to judicial disputes over land and labor in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French. Her publications include: Esclavos y tierras entre posesión y títulos: la construcción social del derecho de propiedad en Brasil, siglo XIX (2021) and Escravidão e direito: o estatuto jurídico dos escravos no Brasil oitocentista, 1860-1888 (2019). She has also published articles in flagship journals such as Law & History Review, Atlantic Studies, Administory-Zeitschrift für Verwaltungsgeschichte. Since 2020, she serves as book review editor of the Journal of Global Slavery. She has been affiliated with international projects funded by the European Commission, the Max Planck Society, and CNPq/Brazil.
Dias Paes began researching the relation between law and slavery while she was in Law School. “It was during my masters, on freedom suits filed by enslaved people in Brazil, that I came to realize that the legal categories structuring these court cases and the legal arguments within them were the same ones used in land disputes. I decided to study this entanglement deeper during my Ph.D., and it became evident that the legal connection between property ownership and land ownership was mutually constitutive with broader economic and social relations. This was such a fascinating topic, that connected historiographical fields that do not often engage with each other, that I decided to pursue this topic further in the following years. For me, it is now clear that the history of slavery and land dispossession in the Global South is the basis of the current climate crisis.”
Asked to explain more about the collaborations that will emerge through the framework of this grant, Dias Paes said the project “will be fundamental to put my own individual research in perspective and access my results in a more complex fashion. When one is doing research individually, time and resources end up restricting the geographical and time scope of our work. Working collaboratively allows us to compare different contexts and thus understand with more complexity local process. Collaboration is fundamental to global and transnational research while allowing us to also conduct meticulous empirical research. Moreover, our project puts together researchers with different backgrounds, historians, and lawyers. This interdisciplinary collaboration will also deepen our debates and analysis. But our collaboration is not restricted to the project. We will also strengthen our partnerships with archival institutions in the Global South. In the age of digital humanities, it is urgent that we put forward debates on digital infrastructure and data sovereignty in Africa and Latin America. Digital humanities projects can both deepen the asymmetries between the Global South and the Global North or it can be an emancipatory tool, that broadens the access of Global South scholars to research infrastructures. Thus, we want our partnerships to be a laboratory on how to do digital humanities in the least asymmetrical way possible. Serious dialogue with our partners will be the key to achieving this goal.”
Learn more about the work of the three project leaders of “Land Dispossession, Inequality, and the Legacies of Slavery in Africa and Latin America” on their faculty pages:
Emory’s Tam Institute for Jewish Studies (TIJS) published a feature story on recent doctoral graduate student Anastasiia Strakhova, whose work TJIS supported throughout her graduate career. Strakhova completed her dissertation, titled “Selective Emigration: Border Control and the Jewish Escape in Late Imperial Russia, 1881-1914,” in 2022 under the advisement of Dr. Eric Goldstein and Dr. Ellie R. Schainker. This spring Strakhova is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Jewish Studies at Duke University. Read an excerpt from the TJIS feature below, along with the full article: “Recent TJIS Graduate Highlight: Anastasiia Strakhova.”
“My research interest evolved gradually,” Dr. Anastasiia Strakhova explains when asked about her scholarly development. After getting her BA in her home city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, and then her MA from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, Dr. Strakhova traveled to the United States to continue her education. While studying Yiddish in New York, Dr. Strakhova found her curiosity about Jewish migration. “I was so fascinated about the attachment that Jews felt to the United States, and the romanticization of the old country… And then I got very interested in seeing the archives and reading about the way that people were living [at that time in history].” Dr. Strakhova’s dissertation addresses late Imperial Russian migration policies through the prism of racialization and criminalization of Jews.
Dr. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies and Associated Faculty in the History Department, was quoted in a CNN article on the racialized dimensions of contemporary legislation related to gun possession and gun control. Anderson’s most recent book, The Second: Race and Guns in an Unequal America (Bloomsbury, 2021), interrogates the links between anti-Blackness and the second amendment throughout U.S. history. Read an excerpt from the article below along with the full piece: “The fight to curb gun violence without inflaming racial biases.”
The issue when it comes to gun control isn’t necessarily the law, according to Carol Anderson, an African American studies professor at Emory University. Sometimes, the issue is the enforcement of the law.Brandon Tensley and Eva McKend, “The fight to curb gun violence without inflaming racial biases,” CNN, July 31, 2022.
“Let’s go back to the Bruen decision in New York, that horrible decision by the US Supreme Court,” Anderson said, referring to the high court’s ruling in June that struck down a century-old New York gun law and that observers suspect will unleash a wave of lawsuits seeking to loosen restrictions at the state and federal levels. “The amicus curiae brief from public defenders said, The NYPD has used this law to go after Black folks. Look at what this has done.”
Anderson, the author of “The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America,” said that, at the core, the problem was policing.
“That’s the component I don’t think is understood well enough,” she said. “We’ve got to clean up policing.
Until we take anti-Blackness seriously, we’re going to keep dancing around the issue.”
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation has awarded doctoral candidate Robert Billups a travel research grant to support two weeks of research in their collections. Centered on anti-busing violence in the 1970s, the research will inform the final chapter of Billups’ dissertation, titled “‘Reign of Terror’: Anti–Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1955–1976.” Drs. Joseph Crespino and Allen Tullos advise Billups’ dissertation.