Graduate Student James Smith Becomes Dr. James Smith! Dr. Smith Defends, “A Clash of Ideals: Human Rights and Non-Intervention in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1977-1988.”

We would like to congratulate Dr. James Smith on passing his dissertation defense on April 29, 2020. He becomes only the second person in the history of the Fordham’s History Department to pass his dissertation virtually.

Dr. Smith’s dissertation is titled, “A Clash of Ideals: Human Rights and Non-Intervention in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1977-1988.”

Below is his dissertation abstract:

The dissertation argues that Carter, Reagan, and other domestic and international actors deployed the ideals of universal human rights and state sovereignty as a political language. The protean meanings they assigned to the terms of that language were contingent upon calculations of political and strategic interests. The discourse of rights and sovereignty in domestic and international politics served as a means to justify or check political change, rather than as nonideological, moral, and legal imperatives. In short, Carter, Reagan, and others used morality and law as political strategy. The study proceeds from an analysis of records from the Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan presidential libraries. The personal papers of Patricia Derian, Barry Goldwater, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, and Donald Fraser provide additional context for the political uses of rights and sovereignty. So too, the papers of William Casey, Warren Christopher, and many of their contemporaries archived at the Hoover Institute enriched this analysis. The author also analyzed digital and other published collections of primary documents, interviewed and corresponded with former public officials, and reviewed memoirs, diaries, interview transcripts, and Congressional hearings and reports. While the dissertation probes the official mind of Washington in the manner of traditional diplomatic history, it also broadens that perspective by assessing how competing domestic and international actors deployed the conflicting ideals of rights and sovereignty. The dissertation builds upon the secondary literature by examining how Carter and others deployed human rights and non-intervention in the 1970s and 1980s. It connects that discourse to the history of U.S. foreign relations, domestic politics, international law, and the movement for economic decolonization. Then, after examining Carter’s embrace of rights and non-intervention as a campaign strategy and the contentious transformation of that rhetoric into policy, the dissertation employs as case studies U.S. relations with Panama, Nicaragua, and Iran. Finally, the dissertation assesses continuity and change in Reagan’s use of the ideals of rights and sovereignty in a foreign policy marked by anti-communism and democracy promotion.

You can reach Dr. James Smith at jwalkersmith511@gmail.com if you are interested in learning more about this fabulous dissertation.

Dr. James Smith

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Fordham Medievalist Grad Student, Rachel Podd, Lectures on Pandemics to Students at the Bronx High School of Science

As students all over the world and from pre-K to graduate school experience disruption to their educational lives, Fordham doctoral candidate Rachel Podd took some time to discuss the differing ways societies respond to pandemics with some students of the Bronx School of Science. One of the great teachers there, Mr. Matthew Clark, reached out to Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies looking for a lecturer, and connected with Rachel. She crafted a twenty-minute recorded lecture, including slides, for the students to explore, based on comparing societal responses to two pandemics, the Black Death of the fourteenth century and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Students read a selection from Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron recounting the author’s experience of plague in Florence, as well as several current news articles on COVID in New York, focusing specifically on areas of commonality, including a rise in xenophobia and a breakdown in the rituals of death and dying. Students were also asked to consider how the experience of a pandemic is at least partially determined by social class and economic status.

On Wednesday the 6th, Rachel and about forty BSS students gathered on Google Meeting for a question and answer session lasting about an hour and a half. Discussion was wide-ranging and lively, as the students probed how ideas about disease causation – the miasma theory of the Middle Ages versus today’s germ theory – determined the ways governments sought to prevent or reduce the spread of disease, as well as how the medical establishment, past and present,  has responded to moments of intense stress. Finally, Rachel, Matthew and the students discussed how pandemics result in fundamentally changed societies. Though immeasurably painful and demographically catastrophic, the Black Death allowed for considerable social reform, increased female entry into the workforce, and rising social mobility, fundamentally changing the way medieval Europeans lived. How, exactly, COVID-19 will change our own lives remains, as of yet, unknown.

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Prof. Nana Osei-Opare awarded the Beacon Exemplar Certificate of Excellence Award from the United Student Government at Fordham.

The United Student Government at Fordham University awarded Prof. Osei-Opare the Beacon Exemplar Certificate of Excellence Award in recognition of his outstanding dedication to inspiring, supporting, & motivating students. The award is the highest that the United Student Government can give.

You can follow Prof. Nana Osei-Opare on Twitter @NanaOseiOpare

Nana Osei-Opare

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Graduate Student Amanda Racine receives the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship.

Amanda Racine (PhD student, Medieval History) has received a Fulbright Fellowship to France for 2020/21. She will be affiliated with Centre d’études supérieueres de civilization médiévale (CESCM) at the Université de Poitiers working with Professor Martin Aurell. Over the course of the year she plans to study extant oaths and customs  spread across several archives in France: the Société Archéologique de Montpellier in Montpellier; the Archives départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône, the Archives municipales de Marseille, and the Bibliothèque municipale d’Arles, all in and around Marseille; and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris. Amanda has also been awarded a grant from the American Numismatic Society for the 66th Annual Eric P. Newman Graduate Summer Seminar in 2020 (delayed due to COVID-19). She plans to study the text and iconography of Frankish, Fatimid, Ayybuid, and Mamluk coins from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter @AMNerbo.

Amanda Racine

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Graduate Student Rachel Podd receives the NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship for British Studies.

Rachel Podd  (PhD candidate, Medieval History) received the NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship for British Studies to conduct research at the Henry Huntington Library in San Marino, California. During her time there she plans to photograph and transcribe a variety of medieval medical manuscripts, including regimens for health, medical recipes and charms, as part of her larger research project focused on medieval ideas about health management.  She will draw on these materials for her Ph.D. thesis on “Health in Late Medieval England: The Impact of Age, Sex, and Income on the Lived Experience.”

Rachel Podd

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Graduate Student Tobias Hrynick awarded a Shallek Grant from the Medieval Academy of America, co-funded with the Richard III Society, American Branch.

Tobias Hrynick has been awarded a Shallek Grant from the Medieval Academy of America, co-funded with the Richard III Society, American Branch.  The fellowship will fund travel to the Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham in the UK to work on a project related to his Ph.D. thesis, on  “According to the Law of the Marsh”; Medieval Wetland Drainage, Environmental Crisis, and the Invention of the Customs of Romney Marsh.” He will be examining normative texts on marsh law, as well as the manorial records of marsh land-holders, to understand the ways medieval communities responded to environmental crisis.

You can follow Tobias Hrynick on Twitter @elmermalmesbury.

Tobias Hrynick

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Graduate Student Douglass Hamilton awarded Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to participate in a three-week Mellon Summer Institute in French Paleography

Douglass Hamilton is one of fifteen faculty and advanced graduate students at U.S. and Canadian colleges awarded a grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to participate in a three-week Mellon Summer Institute in French Paleography program at the Newberry Library in Chicago. The course covers the history of French handwriting and will emphasize hands-on training with facsimiles and manuscripts of the late medieval and early modern periods. This training will allow Douglass to gain critical experience with archival material and manuscripts written in the French language, which will be essential for my research on Old French literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Because of the coronavirus, the seminar has been moved to the summer of 2021.

You can follow Douglass Hamilton on Twitter at @SacreDoog.

Douglass Hamilton

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Graduate Student Ronald Braasch awarded an Omar N. Bradley Historical Research Fellowship

Ronald Braasch has been awarded an Omar N. Bradley Historical Research Fellowship from the Omar N. Bradley Foundation to conduct archival research at The National Archives in the U.K. He will focus on Exchequer wardrobe accounts of the king, which include extensive details on military expenses during royal campaigns. The most important of these accounts is the Wardrobe Book of William de Farley for King Edward III’s 1359-1360 campaign in France during the Hundred Years War, which has never been edited or translated. Ron will draw on these accounts for his doctoral thesis on combat support personnel in the English army during the Hundred Years War. 

Ronald Braasch

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Prof. S. Elizabeth Penry’s Book, “The People Are King: The Making of an Indigenous Andean Politics,” Awarded the 2020 Flora Tristán Prize

We are excited to announce that the Peru Section of the Latin American Studies Association has awarded Prof. S. Elizabeth Penry’s new book, The People Are King: The Making of an Indigenous Andean Politics (Oxford University Press, 2019), the 2020 Flora Tristán Prize for the best book on Peru published in the previous year.

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Filed under book history, Faculty Awards, Faculty News, Faculty Profiles

Professor Yuko Miki Receives Prestigious American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Award

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) announced that Prof. Yuko Miki is one of its 2020 cohort Fellows. The “ACLS Fellowship program honors scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who have the potential to make significant contributions to knowledge in their fields.”

Yuko Miki’s project is entitled, “Emancipation’s Shadow: Stories of Illegal Slavery.” This project is a narrative history of illegal slavery in the nineteenth-century Atlantic World. Through four intertwined stories, 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.” Attention to the lived experiences of women, men, and children forced into, or who profited from, illegal slavery challenges the predominant history of the nineteenth-century as a period marked by the triumph of abolition and freedom. Drawing on literary analysis and archival ethnography, this project asks how illegal slavery can critique these liberal, modernizing narratives that have been foundational to the study of slavery and abolition, and Atlantic world history more broadly.

Yuko Miki – Photograph credit to Margarita Corporan Photography

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