Professor Magda Teter Receives NEH Senior Scholar Fellowship at the Center for Jewish History

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Fordham historian Magda Teter is a recipient of the 2020-2021 NEH Senior Scholar Fellowship at the Center for Jewish History. 

Below is a description of her fascinating project.

Magda Teter

Project Title: “The Dissemination and Uses of the Jewish Past: The Role of The Present in The Production and Politics of History.”  

Project Description: As historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot noted in his groundbreaking book on the production of history, Silencing the Past, “history is always produced in a specific historical context.” Trouillot’s work distinguished between “what happened”—the historical events, and “what is said to have happened”—how historians, professional or not, recount historical events. Thus, not just the context of the historical events matters, but also the historical context of the time in which historians do their work. The overarching questions that loom over my project concern the impact of the present on the study of the past and the compounding effects on the shaping of the field—beyond the known connections with political emancipation, i.e., the acquisition of equal rights by Jews, religious reform, and nationalism that played an important role in shaping the works of Jewish history. When Jewish Studies emerged in the nineteenth century, the field and its scholars were excluded from the academy, but they formed scholarly societies and institutes, published scholarly books and journals. The topics that interested these early scholars were inflected by their own personal interests related to the social and political position of Jews in Europe. They were concerned with current events. Many journals related to Jewish Studies, in fact, devoted a separate section to contemporary events, and allowed for a more rapid response to the current events by publishing not only studies but also primary sources from the archives. These primary sources, in turn, influenced generations of scholars and scholarly projects. And yet, modern scholars have sometimes used these sources uncritically, neglecting to examine how these primary texts and images entered circulation, what might be missing, and of what conversation these sources were a part. My project will explore that.

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Fordham Historian Professor Kirsten Swinth was Featured in the New York Times

New York Times writer Claire Cain Miller published an article, “Why Mothers’ Choices About Work and Family Often Feel Like No Choice at All,” that features our own Dr. Kirsten Swinth. Here is a snippet of what Dr. Swinth stated: “What’s implicit in the conservative logic is that good mothers make the right choice, and the right choice is to prioritize your family.”

For further reading, here’s the link to the New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/17/upshot/mothers-choices-work-family.html

You can follow Dr. Kirsten Swinth on Twitter @kswinth

Kirsten Swinth

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Two History Faculty Members Awarded The Prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Fordham historians Scott Bruce and Yuko Miki are recipients of the 2020-2021 NEH fellowship. Below is a description of their fascinating projects.

Scott Bruce’s project is entitled, The Lost Patriarchs Project: Recovering the Greek Fathers in the Medieval Latin Tradition. Yuko Miki’s project is entitled, Brazilian Atlantic: Archives and Stories of Illegal Slavery.

The Lost Patriarchs Project: The influence of Greek patristics on western European thought and culture remains an important, but largely overlooked, aspect of the history of medieval Latin literature. The goal of my project is the creation of an instrument of reference called The Lost Patriarchs: A Survey of the Greek Fathers in the Medieval Latin Tradition.  This book will present a catalogue of the deep, largely untouched, reservoir of medieval Latin texts that have Greek Christian origins, both those known directly from surviving manuscript copies and those known indirectly from medieval library catalogues. It will provide an alphabetically arranged handbook that presents a series of concise accounts (500 to 10,000 words) of the manuscript tradition and transmission of Greek Christian literature in the medieval Latin tradition.  A reference tool of this kind would gather all this is known about these texts in current scholarship, allowing future researchers to begin the work of charting their influence in western Christian doctrine and devotional practices.

Brazilian Atlantic: This project is a narrative history of illegal slavery in the nineteenth-century Atlantic World. Through four intertwined stories about a slave ship and its captives, two West African men, a financier, and a Kongolese prince, it investigates how illegal slavery thrived throughout the Atlantic World in general, and in Brazil in particular, in the very midst of the “Age of Emancipation.” In paying attention to the lived experiences of women, men, and children forced into, or who profited from, illegal slavery, this project challenges the predominant, sweeping narratives of the nineteenth-century as the triumph of abolition, free trade, and liberal freedom. Through an ethnographic reading of the archives of illegal slavery, this project weaves together the past and present, historical characters and archival encounters to propose a new way of writing about the ambiguous histories of slavery and freedom that centers the suffering and afterlives of the enslaved.

** Yuko Miki’s photo was taken by Margarita Corporan Photography **

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by | January 16, 2020 · 2:41 am

Professor Magda Teter’s New Book, “Blood Libel: On the Trail of An AntiSemetic Myth” (Harvard, 2020) is Now Out.

About the Book:

“A landmark history of the antisemitic blood libel myth—how it took root in Europe, spread with the invention of the printing press, and persists today. Accusations that Jews ritually killed Christian children emerged in the mid-twelfth century, following the death of twelve-year-old William of Norwich, England, in 1144. Later, continental Europeans added a destructive twist: Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood. While charges that Jews poisoned wells and desecrated the communion host waned over the years, the blood libel survived.

Initially blood libel stories were confined to monastic chronicles and local lore. But the development of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century expanded the audience and crystallized the vocabulary, images, and “facts” of the blood libel, providing a lasting template for hate. Tales of Jews killing Christians—notably Simon of Trent, a toddler whose body was found under a Jewish house in 1475—were widely disseminated using the new technology. Following the paper trail across Europe, from England to Italy to Poland, Magda Teter shows how the blood libel was internalized and how Jews and Christians dealt with the repercussions. The pattern established in early modern Europe still plays out today. In 2014 the Anti-Defamation League appealed to Facebook to take down a page titled “Jewish Ritual Murder.” The following year white supremacists gathered in England to honor Little Hugh of Lincoln as a sacrificial victim of the Jews. Based on sources in eight countries and ten languages, Blood Libel captures the long shadow of a pernicious myth.”

Book Reviews:

“An intellectual tour de force. This authoritative study of the blood libel and its ramifications in early modern Europe will become a classic.”—Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, author of Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial

“A work of wide-ranging research, great insight, and remarkable erudition. This will be the definitive book on blood libel for a long time to come, equally important for readers of Jewish history and Christian history in early modern Europe.”—Larry Wolff, author of Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment

“In this deeply researched and meticulously argued book, Magda Teter offers the first comprehensive study of the origins and afterlife of one of the most virulent and harmful of all anti-Jewish accusations. But Blood Libel is far more than a narrative history. By highlighting the central role of printed books, broadsheets, and images in the dissemination of the libel, Teter illuminates the mechanisms by which hate can be generated, and offers a powerful and sobering lesson for our own time.”—Sara Lipton, author of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Iconography

Magda Teter

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Awards & High Recognitions Continue to Pour in for Yuko Miki’s Monograph!

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Fordham Historian Yuko Miki has received 3 honors across 3 different fields at the 2020 American Historical Association (AHA) for her book, Frontiers of Citizenship: A Black and Indigenous History of Postcolonial Brazil. She received the AHA’s Wesley-Logan Prize for African Diaspora History and the Conference on Latin American History (CLAH)’s Warren Dean Memorial Prize in Brazilian History. Moreover, she received an Honorable Mention from CLAH for the Howard F. Cline Prize in Latin American Ethnohistory. Frontiers of Citizenship was also a 2019 Outstanding First Book Award Finalist, Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD). We are so thrilled by her successes. Please congratulate Yuko Miki when you see her.

Below is the list of honors Frontiers of Citizenship has received so far:

  • 2019 Wesley-Logan Prize for the Best Book in African Diaspora History, American Historical Association (AHA)
  • 2019 Warren Dean Memorial Prize for the Best Book in Brazilian History, Conference on Latin American History (CLAH)
  • 2019 Honorable Mention, Howard F. Cline Prize for the Best Book in Ethnohistory, Conference on Latin American History (CLAH)
  • 2019 Honorable Mention for Best Book Prize, Latin American Studies Association 19th-Century Section
  • 2019 Outstanding First Book Award Finalist, Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD)

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Nana Osei-Opare’s new article, “Uneasy Comrades: Postcolonial Statecraft, Race, and Citizenship, Ghana–Soviet Relations, 1957–1966,” is now out.

Osei-Opare’s article tells a new history of the Cold War, of Ghana’s early postcolonial foreign policy, and the formation of Ghana’s national identity through its diplomatic, economic, and migratory relationship with the USSR during Kwame Nkrumah’s government (1957–66). Through examining English and Russian sources from American, British, Ghanaian, and Russian archives, this article offers three arguments. First, by analyzing Soviet anxieties over its role in Ghanaian affairs, the article shows that Ghana significantly controlled the economic and diplomatic contours and pace of its relationship with the USSR. Second, that discourses of race and neocolonialism were more central to defining the terms of Ghana’s geopolitical positioning than the Cold War framework. Third, the virulent racism Ghanaians experienced in the United States and USSR helped forge a global Ghanaian national consciousness. The article illuminates an independent black state’s attempts to procure sovereignty against a white supremacist economic and political international order and calls for Cold War scholars to engage seriously with African archives alongside non-African ones to create more dynamic, representational historical accounts.

You can read the full article here.

You can follow him on Twitter at @NanaOseiOpare

Nana Osei-Opare

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What Is Global History at Fordham? (Part 4 – Prof. Westenley Alcenat)

This is part 4 of our new series, “What is Global History at Fordham?” Today, we hear from Professor Westenley Alcenat, a member of Fordham’s Global History consortium, on what global history means to him and how it shapes his work.

“Most historical tools of analysis we have at our disposal are inherited from the territorial logic of the late nineteenth century European academy. Now that we live in a time and place where the realities of a networked and globalized world disrupted this nation-state model, the pervasive tendency to conceive of national histories as the history of localized, discrete, self-contained spaces has to exist as only one among other analytical frameworks of historical methodology. Modernizing contemporary historical inquiry cannot operate outside of an understanding of systems of interactions, institutional patterns of connectedness, and historical complexes (race, class, gender, nations and nation-states, regional, geographical, etc.,). In other words, to ignore the global in the local, and vice versa, is to articulate an almost vacuous history.

As a historian of comparative Caribbean and American slavery and emancipation, I try to avoid that analytical trap by examining my sources, as well as approach my pedagogy, through the lens of comparative historical analysis. This means starting foremost by understanding global history as NOT a study of globalization; rather, globalization is the core of global history. And in order to get closer to the historical properties at that core, I encourage students to ask questions that place events and problems in their global context. Historians working within traditional national, transnational, or world-based historical approaches can situate their different conceptual frameworks within that globalized paradigm.”

Westenley Alcenat

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Media Technology and the Dissemination of Hate

Prof. Magda Teter’s exhibit, “Media Technology and the Dissemination of Hate,” has appeared on Fordham News. Below is Tom Stoelker’s commentary on the exhibition.

“From chat rooms fostering hate speech to racist memes, there has been a notable uptick in anti-Semitic bullying online. Just this past June, the Council on Foreign Relations concluded that online hate speech has led to real-world violence. Now, an exhibit at the Walsh Library reveals that while the technology may be new, the abuse of it is not. Titled, ‘Media Technology and the Dissemination of Hate,’ the exhibit notes that from the invention of the printing press to the early days of radio, technological advances have been harnessed to spread derogatory images and stereotypes. The exhibit, curated by the Jewish Studies program, runs through May 31, 2020.”

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The Page 99 Test of Prof. Beth Penry’s New book, “The People Are King.”

The English Novelist and Critic Ford Madox Ford argued: “Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.”

Prof. Penry conducted the page 99 test. Click on the links below to see the fascinating results.

Beth Penry

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What is Global History at Fordham? (Part 3 – Prof. Samantha Iyer)

This is part 3 of our new series, “What is Global History at Fordham?” Today, we hear from Professor Samantha Iyer, a member of Fordham’s Global History consortium, on what global history means to her and how it shapes her work.

“Global history offers a perspective that is integral to my work as a historian of capitalism: a system for organizing life that has, since its beginnings, bound together continents and nations. It allows us to ask fundamental questions that tend to lie outside the purview of the national histories that have traditionally dominated the historical profession. For example: How did the work of enslaved people in the Americas since the sixteenth century affect economic institutions and everyday life in Europe? Why did the environmental catastrophe of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s United States have echoes in other parts of the world near the same time, such as South Africa and Australia? How have organizations like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Rockefeller Foundation influenced the economic systems of countries around the world? Global history encourages you to think critically about the geographic contours of the questions that most interest you.”

Samantha Iyer

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