Scholarly Works, History

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Research articles, presentations, and other scholarship


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  • Continuing ‘the essential combat’: The Algerian War veterans’ movement in France and the imperial origins of the National Rally (1957-2012)
    Narayanan, Anndal (2022-11-24)
    France deployed over 1.2 million conscripts during the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962). Yet in the throes of decolonization, this imperial nation-state denied the existence of the war it was waging, and the status of the veterans it created. At the conflict’s end, former servicemen posed an embarrassing reminder of France’s failed attempt to preserve empire. Seeking to move on from the troubled Algerian era, the state largely ignored these citizen-soldiers and their memory of the war. And indeed, one would be forgiven for concluding the memory of Algeria no longer impacts French politics. 5 July 2022 marked the sixtieth anniversary of Algerian independence. Legislative elections only two weeks previously had rendered the far right National Rally (National Front until 2018) France’s largest opposition party. This followed campaigning in which Marine Le Pen emphasized economic issues rather than immigration, Islam, or the memory of French North Africa, so central to the National Front’s message under her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Obscuring the Rally’s imperial origins was a tactical decision Marine took in pursuit of Jean-Marie’s original vision––gaining power for the far right through elections. During the conflict in Algeria, French veterans created diverse associations to rally the homefront and elevate veterans as moral witnesses. At the war’s end, the main left wing association campaigned to inscribe its memory of Algeria in the commemorative landscape. But the right wing association continued its combat against the French state itself––becoming a vehicle for the revival and institutionalization of the legal far right. Drawing on oral histories and research in state and veterans’ association archives, this paper examines how the Algerian War veterans’ movement transmuted veterans’ memory of counterinsurgency and the end of empire into a political struggle over the identity of France, one that continues to challenge French republican norms today.
  • Plain paths and dividing lines: navigating native land and water in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake
    Taylor, Jessica L. (University of Virginia Press, 2023-08)
    It is one thing to draw a line in the sand but another to enforce it. In this innovative new work, Jessica Lauren Taylor follows the Native peoples and the newcomers who built and crossed emerging boundaries surrounding Indigenous towns and developing English plantations in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake Bay. In a riverine landscape defined by connection, Algonquians had cultivated ties to one another and into the continent for centuries. As Taylor finds, their networks continued to define the watery Chesapeake landscape, even as Virginia and Maryland’s planters erected fences and forts, policed unfree laborers, and dispatched land surveyors. By chronicling English and Algonquian attempts to move along paths and rivers and to enforce boundaries, Taylor casts a new light on pivotal moments in Anglo-Indigenous relations, from the growth of the fur trade to Bacon’s Rebellion. Most important, Taylor traces the ways in which the peoples resisting colonial encroachment and subjugation used Native networks and Indigenous knowledge of the Bay to cross newly created English boundaries. She thereby illuminates alternate visions of power, freedom, and connection in the colonial Chesapeake.
  • Inez Holmes, Nurse and Veteran
    Wilkerson, Kiana; Randall, Katherine; Ewing, E. Thomas (National Library of Medicine, 2021-11-11)
  • Revealing Data: Mortality in Mexico City During the 1890 Influenza Epidemic
    Ewing, E. Thomas; Murphy, Sydney (National Library of Medicine, 2023-08-06)
  • Online Catasto of 1427 [Review]
    Midura, Rachel (2023-08-01)
  • 'They Hide from Me, Like the Devil from the Cross': Transalpine Postal Routes as Intelligence Work, 1555-1645
    Midura, Rachel (Wiley, 2023-05)
    Tracing patterns of letter interception across the Alps provides a new geography of Habsburg communications, espionage, and counter-espionage in seventeenth-century Europe. Using the correspondence of the Tassis family of imperial and Spanish postmasters, this article demonstrates that despite increasingly martial rhetoric, battles in information security took place along different geography than the military campaigns of the Thirty Years War. Instead of the 'Spanish Road', the article proposes the consideration of two alternative roads debated by postal administrators: the 'German Road' through Augsburg and the 'Swiss Road' through Lucerne. Letter interceptions along these roads demonstrate that information security differed from martial security in two key ways: First, Habsburg postal systems relied upon international cooperation rather than territorial control. The desire to avoid information leaks had to be balanced with the financial necessity of contracting postal operations to Alpine towns such as Lindau. Second, postmasters themselves responded to the information security needs of cosmopolitan private patrons and multiple princes, complicating their allegiances as state agents. Cases such as the imperial Postmistress General of Brussels and Spanish postmaster of Milan demonstrate that postmasters served as both 'honorable spies' and spy-catchers, proposing new itineraries to circumvent espionage.
  • Development and Indigenous Ecopolitics in Post-Genocide Guatemala
    Copeland, Nicholas M. (SAGE, 2023)
    How do Indigenous and peasant political paradigms interact? This essay examines the relationship between Indigenous-ontopolitical critiques of development and peasant-oriented demands for alternative development in the Guatemalan defense of territory (DT), an Indigenous-led alliance against extractive development. Drawing on politically-engaged ethnographic and historical fieldwork, I argue that theories that counterpose indigenous ecological values of reciprocity and human-nature interrelatedness to “development” oversimplify Indigenous responses to the multi-dimensional nature of colonization. I describe how cosmological critiques coexist with demands for progressive (redistributive) extraction and agrarian struggles for food sovereignty and integral development. I suggest that the ascendance of post-development critiques crowds out demands for anticolonial development in the DT, limiting its potential to present a compelling alternative for poor communities. I point to a convergence between ontopolitical critique and counterinsurgency and propose holding critiques and demands for development in creative tension to strengthen decolonial struggles.
  • Politicizing Water: Rescaling Resistance to Extractive Development in Guatemala
    Copeland, Nicholas M. (Elsevier, 2023-02-22)
    Many Indigenous and peasant movements denounce the expansion of extractive development as a threat to their lives, livelihoods, and territories that reinforces legacies of colonization and armed conflict. Grassroots resistances to extractive projects converge on concerns over water access and contamination. This essay draws on politically-engaged ethnographic research with Indigenous territorial defense organizations in Guatemala and political ecological perspectives on water politics to examine how the strategic politicization of water affects the scalar potential of Indigenous and peasant environmental movements. I describe how Indigenous and peasant communities, political organizations, and NGOs use water as a transfer point to demonstrate the harms of extractivist projects; pursue legal strategies; form local, regional, and national networks; and to articulate resistances across a range of industries, environmental paradigms, and geographic and ethnic divides, strengthening alliances for alternative ways of being on the land.
  • Monetary Authorities: Capitalism and Decolonization in the American Colonial Philippines
    Lumba, Allan E. S. (Duke University Press, 2022-05)
    In Monetary Authorities, Allan E. S. Lumba explores how the United States used monetary policy and banking systems to justify racial and class hierarchies, enforce capitalist exploitation, and counter movements for decolonization in the American colonial Philippines. Lumba shows that colonial economic experts justified American imperial authority by claiming that Filipinos did not possess the racial capacities to properly manage money. Financial independence, then, became a key metric of racial capitalism by which Filipinos had to prove their ability to self-govern. At the same time, the colonial state used its monetary authority to police the economic activities of colonized subjects and to curb movements for decolonization. It later offered a conditional form of decolonization that left the Philippines reliant on U.S. financial institutions. By showing how imperial governance was entwined with the racialization and regulation of monetary systems in the Philippines, Lumba illuminates a key mechanism through which the United States securitized the imperial world order.
  • Resisting the Trauma Story: Ethical Concerns in the Oral History Archive
    Randall, Katherine; Powell, Katrina M.; Shadle, Brett M. (Living Refugee Archive, University of East London, 2020)
    This short article presents an oral history project undertaken with refugees resettled in Southwest Virginia. From this project has emerged an understanding of refugees as curators of a personal archive of stories. A birth-to-present oral history approach can resist the reductive trauma narratives refugees are often expected to tell, yet oral historians and archivists must also be aware of the story told by the archive framework itself. The authors explore the ethical challenges of amplifying oral histories from refugees in a way that inspires action without centering the trauma story, and leave readers with questions for reflection.
  • Virginia Tech, Land-Grant University, 1872–1997: History of a School, a State, a Nation
    Wallenstein, Peter (Virginia Tech Publishing, 2021-12)
    The first edition of this book was published in 1997, at the time of Virginia Tech’s 125th anniversary. Wallenstein, a professor of history at Virginia Tech, situates the story of Virginia Tech firmly in the context of both American history and Virginia’s checkered history of higher education. One reviewer wrote that the book “may well be the most un-parochial history of a college or university that has ever been written.” The new edition features a lengthy new preface as well as other changes in text and images throughout. The book will interest historians, educators, students, and just about anyone who wants to know more about the history of higher education in America.
  • Historical Gaps and Non-existent Sources: The Case of the Chaudrie Court in French India
    Agmon, Danna (Cambridge University Press, 2021-10-01)
    This article develops a typology of historical and archival gaps - physical, historiographical, and epistemological - to consider how non-existent sources are central to understanding colonial law and governance. It does so by examining the institutional and archival history of a court known as the Chaudrie in the French colony of Pondichéry in India in the eighteenth century, and integrating problems that are specific to the study of legal history - questions pertaining to jurisdiction, codification, evidence, and sovereignty - with issues all historians face regarding power and the making of archives. Under French rule, Pondichéry was home to multiple judicial institutions, administered by officials of the French East Indies Company. These included the Chaudrie court, which existed at least from 1700 to 1827 as a forum where French judges were meant to dispense justice according to local Tamil modes of dispute resolution. However, records of this court prior to 1766 have not survived. By drawing on both contemporaneous mentions of the Chaudrie and later accounts of its workings, this study centers missing or phantom sources, severed from the body of the archive by political, judicial, and bureaucratic decisions. It argues that the Chaudrie was a court where jurisdiction was decoupled from sovereignty, and this was the reason it did not generate a state-managed and preserved archive of court records for itself until the 1760s. The Chaudrie's early history makes visible a relationship between law and its archive that is paralleled by approaches to colonial governance in early modern French Empire.
  • Commemoration, Controversy, and Campus Buildings: A Case Study—Virginia Tech, 1997-2020
    Wallenstein, Peter (2021-01-14)
    Part historical reconstruction and part memoir by a participant observer, this article reveals the path that led, between 1997 and 2020, to three changes in names of campus residence halls at Virginia Tech. Major spurs to such reconsiderations of the names of campus buildings at many schools over the past decade were the shooting murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015, the “Unite the Right” violence in Charlottesville in August 2017, and the public murder of a Black man by a uniformed police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020. The particulars of the Virginia Tech story were more local and began earlier—in 1997–1998 and 2004–2005—but converged with the national narrative in 2020.
  • A Hard Job to Quit: Camaraderie, Crabbing, and Change on the Chesapeake Bay
    Taylor, Jessica; Daglaris, Patrick (University of North Carolina Press, 2022)
  • Labor, Landscape, and Four Virginia Watermen
    Taylor, Jessica; Daglaris, Patrick (Southern Historical Association, 2022-05-31)
  • How did we get here: what are droplets and aerosols and how far do they go? A historical perspective on the transmission of respiratory infectious diseases
    Randall, Katherine; Ewing, E. Thomas; Marr, Linsey C.; Jiminez, J. L.; Bourouiba, Lydia (Royal Society, 2021-10-12)
    The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed major gaps in our understanding of the transmission of viruses through the air. These gaps slowed recognition of airborne transmission of the disease, contributed to muddled public health policies and impeded clear messaging on how best to slow transmission of COVID-19. In particular, current recommendations have been based on four tenets: (i) respiratory disease transmission routes can be viewed mostly in a binary manner of ‘droplets’ versus ‘aerosols’; (ii) this dichotomy depends on droplet size alone; (iii) the cut-off size between these routes of transmission is 5 µm; and (iv) there is a dichotomy in the distance at which transmission by each route is relevant. Yet, a relationship between these assertions is not supported by current scientific knowledge. Here, we revisit the historical foundation of these notions, and how they became entangled from the 1800s to today, with a complex interplay among various fields of science and medicine. This journey into the past highlights potential solutions for better collaboration and integration of scientific results into practice for building a more resilient society with more sound, far-sighted and effective public health policies.
  • Read-Agree-Predict: A Crowdsourced Approach to Discovering Relevant Primary Sources for Historians
    Wang, Nai-Ching; Hicks, David; Quigley, Paul; Luther, Kurt (Human Computation Institute, 2019)
    Historians spend significant time looking for relevant, high-quality primary sources in digitized archives and through web searches. One reason this task is time-consuming is that historians’ research interests are often highly abstract and specialized. These topics are unlikely to be manually indexed and are difficult to identify with automated text analysis techniques. In this article, we investigate the potential of a new crowdsourcing model in which the historian delegates to a novice crowd the task of labeling the relevance of primary sources with respect to her unique research interests. The model employs a novel crowd workflow, Read-Agree-Predict (RAP), that allows novice crowd workers to label relevance as well as expert historians. As a useful byproduct, RAP also reveals and prioritizes crowd confusions as targeted learning opportunities. We demonstrate the value of our model with two experiments with paid crowd workers (n=170), with the future goal of extending our work to classroom students and public history interventions. We also discuss broader implications for historical research and education.
  • The Deutschland Series: Cold War Nostalgia for Transnational Audiences
    Gumbert, Heather L. (Cambridge University Press, 2021-06-01)
    How do you explain the Cold War to a generation who did not live through it? For Jörg and Anna Winger, co-creators and showrunners of the Deutschland series, you bring it to life on television. Part pop culture reference, part spy thriller, and part existential crisis, the Wingers’ Cold War is a fun, fast-paced story, “sunny and slick and full of twenty-something eye candy.” A coproduction of Germany's UFA Fiction and Sundance TV in the United States, the show premiered at the 2015 Berlinale before appearing on American and German television screens later that year. Especially popular in the United Kingdom, it sold widely on the transnational market. It has been touted as a game-changer for the German television industry for breaking new ground for the German television industry abroad and expanding the possibilities of dramatic storytelling in Germany, and is credited with unleashing a new wave of German (historical) dramas including Babylon Berlin, Dark, and a new production of Das Boot.