Rodriguez and Olivo Help to Usher in Exhibit on Latinx Photography

Dr. Yami Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of History, recently delivered opening remarks at the newest exhibit at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, titled “You Belong Here: Place, People, and Purpose in Latinx Photography.” A historian of Latinx communities, particularly those in the U.S. South, Rodriguez provided illuminating context for the exhibit by offering a chronology of relationships between Latinx communities in Atlanta and Emory University. Senior History major and Carlos Museum intern Cassandra Olivio, who worked with Rodriguez to secure the internship, created an interactive activity to accompany the exhibit. Read an excerpt from Rodriguez’s opening remarks along with a brief Q&A with Olivio about her experience below.

Yami Rodriguez, Opening Remarks (excerpt)

“The effort to showcase a Latinx photography exhibit at Emory led me to consider change over time, and how this exhibit contributes to a long legacy of students, staff, and faculty that have worked to highlight and make space for Latinx experiences and voices at this institution. I therefore want to briefly highlight the collaborative work that has been and continues to be necessary in order to make a statement like ‘You Belong Here’ ring true.

“In 1989, for example, Mariali Fuster, Maritza Ortiz and Gerardo Tosca, along with other students, were ‘primarily responsible for raising interest in having Emory celebrate’ Hispanic Heritage Month. A list of events included Spanish club meetings, lectures on US and Latin American history, and community meals. Three years later in 1992 members of the Latin American Awareness Organization (or, LATINO) at Emory had the stated goal of ‘bring[ing] together the Latino students and to educate both the Emory community and the Atlanta community-at-large about Latinos and Latin America.’ And just three years later a staff member explained in scrap notes how she ‘received more than 50 calls regarding the services and resources’ provided by the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services because many Latinx parents whose children had been accepted to Emory could not afford tuition. As the population of Latinx students at Emory grew at the turn of the century, so did awareness of the populations’ needs and, at times, demands. A Latino Task Force made up of students, staff and faculty established in 2000, for example, advocated for increased Latino student enrollment and staff increases, along with a call for establishing ‘Latino Studies.’ The call for Latinx Studies would be renewed in 2018 with student-led advocacy. Over the decades, Latinx academic, social, political, and cultural presence has shaped our Emory communities and the possibilities for inclusion on and off campus…The Latinx community today at Emory, in Metro Atlanta, and the South more generally, is diverse, multilingual, and actively in search of spaces that can speak to some aspects of this complex, constructed category we know as Latinidad. I’m hopeful that the Carlos Museum is one of many spaces on campus that can commit to maintaining a sustainable, non-extractive, and mutually beneficial relationship with Latinx communities at Emory and across Georgia as we seek to make our institutions more inclusive and representative of the worlds we move through.”

*Remarks were informed by archival materials in the Rose and research conducted by undergraduate student Arturo Contreras for his work on the “Consciousness is Power: A Record of Emory Latinx History.” Efforts to digitize this Fall 2022 pop-up exhibit are currently underway in our history course, “The Migrant South.”

Q&A with Cassandra Olivo, History Major and Carlos Museum Intern

How did you become an intern at the Carlos Museum, and how has this experience shaped your time at Emory?

I was able to secure my internship at the Carlos Musuem through the help of Professor Rodriguez. She informed me that the museum was looking for two students to create an interactive component for the exhibition, and I applied because she informed me that the knowledge and skills that I had acquired from my history courses could be applicable in the creation of this component.

As a student who must also work to be able to study at this institution, I have found it hard to make time to visit the museum; thus, this experience provided me with the opportunity to explore and interact with a space that I would have not engaged with otherwise.

Have you seen intersections between your role at the Carlos and your history coursework? How so?

Yes, I have. I have taken a few classes where we have discussed the forms of resistance used by enslaved people, and a piece by artist Joiri Minaya not only allowed me to see how art could be crafted to represent this history, but added to my knowledge because I learned that enslaved women in the Barbados used the ayogwiri plant to induce abortions because they did not want their children to be thrusted into slavery. This piece does an excellent job at displaying how art can be utilized as a medium that both communicates and educates the public about historical events.

The exhibit you worked on highlights themes of identity, community, and belonging, with the interactive you co-created for the exhibit asking visitors to reflect on these themes. Can you share a bit about how your own identity, community, and/or sense of belonging informed your work at the Carlos and your time at Emory?

As the daughter of Mexican-immigrant parents who can barely read and write in English, I wanted to design the interactive in a way, which included translating the questions into Spanish, that would feel inviting to these kinds of individuals. The silence that Latinx populations face does not result from the community’s lack of expression on topics, but rather the linguistic barriers that limit their self-expression. Growing up, I always viewed my upbringing as a limitation, but this internship has made me realize that my experiences allow me to be an effective advocate for the needs of the community.

There have been instances where I was the only person of Latinx descent in my class, and it felt isolating at times. This feeling compelled me to create a space where individuals would not only be able to reflect on their own experiences, but also read the stories of others similar to them and see that they were not alone.

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.”

Students Contribute Original Research to the History of Skiing & Snowsports Website

Emory undergraduate students recently contributed their original research projects to the website of the History of Skiing & Snowsports course. Dr. Judith A. Miller, Associate Professor, has offered this innovative class since the spring semester of 2021. This year’s 24 student contributions tackle a range of compelling subjects, from the history of affordable housing in Aspen to the development of adaptive technologies that enable disabled persons to ride the slopes. View the full collection of student research, encompassing three years of the course’s offering, on the History of Skiing & Snowsports website.

2022 Loren & Gail Starr Fellows in Experiential Learning Present Results

The 2022 Loren & Gail Starr Fellows in Experiential Learning recently presented the projects for which they received funding over the summer. These fellowships were created in 2022 through a generous donation from Loren and Gail Starr. They provide summer funding from $500 to $3000 for experiential learning projects proposed by History majors, joint majors, or minors. The Starr Award aims to support students who wish to use the knowledge and skills they have acquired in history courses to create or participate in projects outside of the classroom. Bold, creative, and off-the-beaten path proposals are encouraged. The 2022 Fellows outdid themselves with creative historical projects. Learn more about the inspiring work they recently shared with History Dept. faculty, students, and staff below:

Junior major Matthew Croswhite created a website that connects Emory’s mascot, Dooley, to the 19th-century trade in cadavers.  Check out his amazing website here: Skeletons in the Closet: Emory University’s Position in the Illicit Cadaver Trade and the Birth of Dooley, The Skeleton from 1840-1930.

Matthew Croswhite Presenting “Skeletons in the Closet”

Senior Honors student Edina Hartstein created a StoryMap based on her Honors Thesis on “The Advisory Committee on Traffic in Women & Children.” Take a look here:

Edina Hartstein Presenting StoryMap on Trafficking in Women and Children

Senior Film Studies Honors student and History Major Kheyal Roy-Meighoo created a spectacular animated film on Asian American History that explored the dynamics of racism in the present and past. We look forward to posting an update with a link to the film in the future.

Kheyal Roy-Meighoo Presenting Animated Film

Schainker to Lead Inaugural Study Abroad Program in Poland

Trailer for the TJIS Jews in Poland study abroad experience.

Dr. Ellie R. Schainker, Arthur Blank Family Foundation Associate Professor of Modern European Jewish History, will lead a group of Emory undergraduates on an inaugural study abroad program to Poland in the summer of 2023. The 10-day, 1-credit experiential learning abroad experience is organized by the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies (TJIS). The Berger Family Fund, which supports student experiential learning on topics related to antisemitism, Jewish life, and Jewish history, will heavily subsidize the cost for participants. Through the on-site learning experience and a companion course taught by Dr. Schainker, students will engage with over one thousand years of Jewish history in Poland and Eastern Europe more broadly. Read comments from Dr. Schainker about the exciting initiative below, and learn more about the program on the TJIS website.

Reflecting on her vision for the program, Prof. Schainker noted, ‘My goal is for them to walk away with a deep appreciation for how Poland – and Eastern Europe more broadly – became such a magnetic home for Ashkenazi Jewish society and culture for really over a thousand years, until the Holocaust.  I want them to appreciate that as a space in which Jewish culture and life flourished while having its major challenges as well.‘”

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.

Annie Fang Li (’22) Named Marshal Scholar

2022 honors student Annie Fang Li has received a Marshall Scholarship for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. She wrote her honors thesis with Dr. Chris Suh on “San Francisco Chinatown to the American South: Chinese American Christians in the Civil Rights Movement, 1963-1966.” Annie did a double major in History & Sociology. There are many professors who enriched her time at Emory, including her Honors Thesis committee members, Dr. Suh, Dr. Carol Anderson, & Dr. Helen Jin Kim (Candler School of Theology). In addition, she is grateful to Dr. Tracy L. Scott (Sociology), Dr. Pamela Hall (Religion), and Dr. Tehila Sasson (History). Courses with Dr. Anderson (Civil Rights Movement) and Dr. Suh (Asian-American History) led Annie to declare a major in History.

Annie held a James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race & Difference Undergraduate Honors Fellowship to support her thesis writing. During her time in college, Annie served as founding Editor-in-Chief of Emory In Via, a journal of Christian thought. As an IDEAS fellow, she was the Communications Fellow and Teaching Assistant for two sidecar classes. She was also involved in Residence Life, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Activists (APIDAA), and Journey Church of Atlanta.

Congratulations, Annie!

History Honors Student Hannah Charak Wins James Z. Rabun Prize in American History

Congratulations to History Honors student Hannah Charak on winning the James Z. Rabun Prize in American history, given by the History Department each year to the graduating senior with the best record in that field.  Hannah’s Senior Honors thesis, “Terror from the Top Down: Violence & Voter Suppression in the Postwar South,” was directed by Prof. Jason Ward.  She was among the Spring 2022 inductees to the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

She writes that “Professor Hank Klibanoff’s class [on Civil Rights Cold Cases] was very formative for me.” She continued her work with him through research on the Ahmaud Arbery case (which became Season 3 of Buried Truths podcast). In the Fall of 2021, she was a teaching assistant for his Cold Cases class. She found the “TA role was really interesting, as it allowed me to get a glimpse of what teaching a class would be like.”  She also “enjoyed Dr. Joseph Crespino’s and Dr. Maria Montalvo’s classes very much.” She did research for both of their projects at various points over the past couple of years. She praises Dr. Jason Ward, her adviser, who “has probably influenced me the most during my time at Emory. I’ve been taking his classes since freshman year, which have inspired me to consider history as a profession.”

This prize was established in 1981 on the occasion of the retirement of Professor James Z. Rabun after thirty-four years’ service in the Department of History. In awarding this prize, the department also honors Professor Rabun’s distinctive traits of courtesy, integrity, wisdom, and unselfish devotion to his students and colleagues. The Rabun Prize consists of a book in the field of American history.

The prize was awarded on April 27 at the History Department’s Senior Celebration.

Many congratulations, Hannah!

History Major Edina Hartstein Wins Cuttino Scholarship for Independent Research Abroad

Congratulations to junior History Major Edina Hartstein on winning a George P. Cuttino Scholarship for Independent Research Abroad for Summer 2022 travel to London for her Honors thesis. She will also be a Halle Institute Undergraduate Global Research Fellow. Her working title is “The League of Nations’ Advisory Committee on Trafficking in Women & Children: The British Empire’s Role & Impact.”

Hartstein writes that “The first history class I took, ‘Hist 190: Fake News,’ introduced me to the History Department. Not only did I learn a lot, but I built relationships that are still important to me. I met Dr. Judith A. Miller, who later became my major advisor, and pushed me to explore different areas within the field.” Hartstein will work with her thesis advisor, Dr. Tehila Sasson, who taught her “Race and the End of Empire.” That thought provoking class caused Edina to reconsider her understandings of empire, which has been critical for the development of her thesis.

History Major Isabel Coyle Wins George P. Cuttino Scholarship

Congratulations to junior History Major Isabel Coyle on winning a George P. Cuttino Scholarship for Independent Research Abroad. Coyle will conduct research in France for her Honors thesis over the summer of 2022. She will also be a Halle Institute Undergraduate Global Research Fellow. Her working title is “Immigration, Race, and Assimilation in France, 1962-1975.”

She writes that Prof. Judith A. Miller’s “support has helped me so much, and I have such great memories from the French Revolution class as well as the Origins of Capitalism class.” She owes “a lot to Dr. Maria Montalvo, who taught the first history class I ever took at Emory and is one of the reasons I decided to major in history.”

The prize is named for Prof. George Cuttino (1914-1991), who taught at Emory for 32 years. He was a beloved professor and held the Candler Chair in Medieval History. He was a two-time Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and chaired the Emory History Department in the early 1970’s before retiring in 1984.

The summer fellowship recipients will present their research to the department at an event this coming fall semester.