Celebrating Senior Prize Recipients

The Undergraduate Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the History Department’s Undergraduate Senior Prizes for 2023-2024. They are:

George P. Cuttino Prize for the best record in European History: Harrison Helms

James Z. Rabun Prize for the best record in American History: Joe Beare

The African, Asian, and Latin American History Prize for the best record in African, Asian, and Latin American History: Orion Jones and Yingyi Tan

Matthew A. Carter Citizen-Scholar Award: Anhhuy Do

These awards were presented at our in-person Senior Celebration on Wednesday, May 1, 2pm – 3:30pm, in the Emory Student Center. Congratulations to all!

Navyug Gill (Ph.D., 2014) Publishes ‘Labors of Division’ with Stanford UP

Dr. Navyug Gill, Associate Professor of History at William Paterson University and a 2014 alum of the doctoral program, has published his first monograph. Gill’s book, Labors of Division: Global Capitalism and the Emergence of the Peasant in Colonial Panjab, was published by Stanford University Press this year. The work examines the history of landholding peasants and landless laborers and their implications for a new form of capitalist hierarchy in colonial India and the globe. Gill completed his doctoral work under the supervision of Dr. Gyanendra Pandey, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor. Read the abstract of Labors of Division below, along with the Introduction and Table of Contents on the Stanford UP website.

One of the most durable figures in modern history, the peasant has long been a site of intense intellectual and political debate. Yet underlying much of this literature is the assumption that peasants simply existed everywhere, a general if not generic group, traced backward from modernity to antiquity. Focused on the transformation of Panjab during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this book accounts for the colonial origins of global capitalism through a radical history of the concept of “the peasant,” demonstrating how seemingly fixed hierarchies were in fact produced, legitimized, and challenged within the preeminent agricultural region of South Asia. Navyug Gill uncovers how and why British officials and ascendant Panjabis disrupted existing forms of identity and occupation to generate a new agrarian order in the countryside. The notion of the hereditary caste peasant engaged in timeless cultivation thus emerged, paradoxically, as a result of a dramatic series of conceptual, juridical, and monetary divisions.

Far from archaic relics, this book ultimately reveals both the landowning peasant and landless laborer to be novel political subjects forged through the encounter between colonialism and struggles over culture and capital within Panjabi society. Questions of progress, exploitation and knowledge come to animate the vernacular operations of power. With this history, Gill brings difference and contingency to understandings of the global past in order to re-think the itinerary of comparative political economy as well as alternative possibilities for emancipatory futures.

Alumni Update: Justin Rubino (C ’22), from History in ATL to Science in NYC

Honors History alum Justin Rubino recently shared news with us about his professional path since graduating in the spring of 2022. Rubino is currently working at Success Academy, a charter school in NYC, as a 6th grade science teacher. Success Academy is the top-performing public school system in NYC with locations in the Bronx, Harlem, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. While Rubino had originally planned to teach history, he is enjoying teaching science and helps out the students with their history questions from time to time ;).

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

Lowery’s New Film ‘Lumbeeland’ Explores Impact of Drug Trade on Lumbee Communities

Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Family Professor of American History, has written and produced a new short film, titled Lumbeeland. With an all-Native crew and cast (the first film written, produced, and starring members of the Lumbee tribe), Lumbeeland explores the impact of the drug trade on Lumbee communities in Lowery’s birthplace of Robeson county, North Carolina. The film will premiere at the Lumbee Film Festival in July 2024, and the producers are in the midst of a fundraising campaign to support its release to wider audiences. Read a great piece about the origins and aims of the films here, and watch the trailer below.

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.

Suh and Montalvo Featured in “First Fridays” Lecture Series

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.”

Lesser Contextualizes Brazil’s Warm Welcome for Venezuelan Migrants

Dr. Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History, was recently quoted in a Bloomberg article about the Brazilian government’s acceptance of scores of migrants from Venezuela. The piece outlines why officials in Brazil, contrary to their peers in other countries around the world, are welcoming migrants into the nation. Lesser is an expert on public health, ethnicity, immigration, and race, especially in Brazil. His newest book, Living and Dying in São Paulo, will be published with Duke University Press in 2024. Read an excerpt from the Bloomberg piece below, along with the full article: “Brazil Is Embracing the Migrant Crisis That Everyone Else Wants to Avoid.”

“‘We notice in Brazil that immigrant integration seems to occur at a relatively more consistent and rapid level than in the United States,’ said Jeffrey Lesser, a historian at Emory University.

“Lesser says Brazil began to rely more on immigrants to fill jobs in the ‘corporate arena’ after slavery was abolished in 1888. Immigration rules are also far less strict than in the US. In recent decades, Brazilian officials have given amnesty several times to groups of undocumented foreigners or those who overstayed visas, allowing them to obtain legal status.”

Remembering Irwin Hyatt, Jr.

The Emory History Department mourns the death of Dr. Irwin Hyatt, Jr., a beloved professor of East Asian History at Emory from 1966 through his retirement in 2002. A native of Atlanta, Hyatt received his undergraduate degree at Emory College in 1956 and completed his doctoral work at Harvard in the mid-1960s. As he recounted in a 2002 article, Hyatt returned to Emory by coincidence. At the time, the History Department had no curricular offerings outside of Western Civilizations. Hyatt became the first Area Studies expert outside of the United States and Europe, thus helping to pave the way for the Department’s leading contemporary doctoral programs in regions beyond the North Atlantic, including Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

In 1976 Harvard UP published Hyatt’s Our Ordered Lives Confess: Three Nineteenth-Century Missionaries in East Shantung, a biographical study of three missionaries in Northeast China. Reviewers at the time described the work as “a scholarly, carefully-documented contribution” and a “remarkable and sensitive book.” Hyatt’s popular courses and mentorship of students were much appreciated on campus. Joan L. Goldfrank (73C 76L) composed a lovely reflection about Hyatt in a 2011 issue of Emory Magazine:

“I must identify my favorite professor, Irwin Hyatt of the Department of History. Although I had an idea that I would be a history major before I entered college, I was convinced of this decision after taking an introduction course with Professor Hyatt. I then took every course he taught. I concentrated in Chinese history because of his inspirational teaching. He taught me to appreciate the importance of history and what history informs us about people. Professor Hyatt was also readily available outside of the classroom as I juggled a personal crisis and searched to find my path in life. He provided great support and guidance.

“All these many years later, one of those voices in my head is Dr. Hyatt’s, reminding me not to be judgmental of and to try to understand others. It is a helpful voice. Therefore, it is just that simple. The Emory professors made the significant difference in my college career. Thanks, Emory, for providing me with such a unique and treasured opportunity.”

Hyatt joined the College’s dean office in 1988, where he served as Senior Associate Dean until his retirement. He received the Jefferson Award in 2002, given annually to a faculty member at Emory who has demonstrated “significant service to the University through personal activities, influence and leadership.” Read more about Hyatt’s life, career, and contributions to the Emory community on his obituary and the Emory Report’s 2002 article, “Hyatt closes Emory career with honors.”

Patchwork Freedoms wins James A. Rawley Prize

Congratulations to Dr. Adriana Chira, Associate Professor of History, whose book Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race Beyond Cuba’s Plantations (Cambridge UP, 2022) has won the American Historical Association’s Rawley Prize. Named for James A. Rawley, the Carl Adolph Happold Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, this prize recognizes outstanding historical writing that explores aspects of integration of Atlantic worlds before the 20th century. Published as part of Cambridge’s Afro-Latin America series, Patchwork Freedoms has already won two other awards: Honorable Mention, Best Book, Nineteenth Century Section, from the Latin American Studies Association, and the 2023 Elsa Goveia Prize from the Association of Caribbean Historians.

Chira Wins NEH Collaborative Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Adriana Chira, Associate Professor of History, on receiving a Collaborative Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the project “Value, Self-Worth, and the Market in the Black Spanish Caribbean in the Age of Slavery.” Dr. Pablo F. Gómez, Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin Madison, is the co-leader of the project. The more than $170,000 award will support the preparation of a co-authored book on Black negotiation of bodily value in the Spanish Caribbean and its economic and political implications from 1680 to 1790. Chira’s first book, Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba’s Plantations (Cambridge UP, 2022), recently received the Elsa Goveia Book Prize from Association for Caribbean Historians.