Author Archives: Nana Osei-Opare

Professor Osei-Opare Featured in The Fordham Ram Article, “Professor Exposes Students to Truths of African History.”

Joergen Ostensen’s article, “Professor Exposes Students to Truths of African History,” is reproduced below:

The office of Nana Osei-Opare, assistant professor of history at Fordham University, is filled with books, and somewhere on the shelves, although not immediately at hand, he said there is a copy of “Long Walk to Freedom,” the autobiography Nelson Mandela wrote while imprisoned on Robben Island. In the book, Mandela explains his decision to abandon non-violence for the armed resistance to apartheid that made him a political prisoner for 27 years.

Mandela’s process of becoming a revolutionary is the kind of history Osei-Opare said he is trying to keep alive in his classes.

This year, his first at Fordham, he is teaching mostly freshmen, in a course called African History that fulfills the university’s Understanding Historical Change requirement. He said one of his main goals is to dispel the ahistorical narrative that social change is polite.

“I don’t recall slavery being ended because Clay, Webster and Calhoun got into a great deal and it ended,” he said. “No. I don’t physically remember this, but from what I’ve read, there was a war.”

Osei-Opare’s students are told to call him Professor O, according to Peter Wolffe, FCRH ’23, who took his class last semester. He said they read the works of revolutionary African figures like Franz Fanon, Steve Biko, Ruth First and Kwame Nkrumah.

While many of the authors on the syllabus were rebels against their governments, including First and Biko, who were killed by the South African state, Osei-Opare said he pushes back on being characterized as a radical historian.

“What is radical?” he asked. “Is radical just me saying what happened in history?”

For some of his students, the history he presents comes as a shock and a testament to the oversight of African history by America’s education system, said Rachel Lawson, FCRH ’23, who also took the class last semester.

“I didn’t even know there was a Nigerian civil war,” she said. “I didn’t know there was a Kenyan genocide.”

Osei-Opare said his goal is to force his students to confront the reality of colonialism. 

“Our president, Father McShane, in our orientation, he told us we should make our students uncomfortable, uncomfortable with humanity and their place,” he said. “I think that’s what I’m trying to do, make people uncomfortable with what has happened.”

Lawson said she can still recall specific moments in class where she felt the trauma of the content. They learned about the brutal conditions in the Congolese work force, and she said one class they watched a documentary about the Congolese genocide.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt that kind of horror before,” she said.

Osei-Opare was born in Ghana but grew up in South Africa before moving to Newark, New Jersey, for eighth grade and high school. He returns to Ghana every year for research and to visit his family. He said he tries to think from an internationalist perspective and encourages his students to do the same.

He also said he tries to help them make connections to the United States. 

According to Osei-Opare, a major research focus of his is the relationship between the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Ghanian state. He said that throughout history, colonial powers tried to delegitimize African revolutionaries by saying Moscow was telling them they were oppressed.

He said this reminds him of the discourse about Russian interference in the 2016 election where Black Lives Matter content was promoted, according to the Washington Post, in what Osei-Opare said was an effort to dissuade black people from voting.

“(The liberal media were saying) oh, they’re pushing Black Lives Matter content, we have to be careful, this is divisive,” he said. “It went back to that early 1900s narrative that black people don’t know the cause of their own oppression and that it’s a foreign power telling them they are oppressed.”

He also said he asked his students to consider the difference between the reaction to the Bundy standoff, where white ranchers occupied land with guns, and the treatment of black groups like the Black Panther Party and the MOVE organization, whose Philadelphia compound was fire bombed by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1985, according to NPR

Osei-Opare, who self-identifies as a pacifist, said Mandela’s political imprisonment speaks to the racism behind what society considers legitimate violence. 

“Unfortunately there’s a racial and there’s an ideological bent to … how the state responds to it,” he said.

Osei-Opare said he believes there are political prisoners in the United States.

The Alliance for Global Justice lists former Black Panther and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier of the American Indian Movement and the Standing Rock water protector Red Fawn Fallis as political prisoners. As the Ram reported, local Black Lives Matter activists consider cop-watcher Ramsey Orta, who filmed the death of Eric Garner, to be a political prisoner as well.

Osei-Opare said the purpose of creating this kind of discourse is to challenge students to be self-critical.

“All I want you to do is rethink what you think you know and really critique it,” he said. 

Included in the syllabus was founder of the South African Black Consciousness Movement Steve Biko’s essay about the detrimental role of white liberals to racial justice movements. Osei-Opare quoted Biko to illustrate his point. 

“A man is on the ground, he’s kicked, and the person kicking the man is telling that man how to respond to that kick,” Osei-Opare said referring to Biko’s writing, before elaborating that Biko’s point is there is no right way to respond to the violence of colonialism.

Wolffe said reading Biko was particularly impactful to him.

“He talks about how the white liberal is a huge problem,” he said. “That hit home for me because it portrayed me very well. It’s like the person who does this work to feel morally right but is not really helping the situation.”

Osei-Opare also talked to his students about how being black affects him at Fordham. Lawson said she found this particularly impactful, especially a story he told about fearing to eat fried chicken at an event on campus because he did not want to be associated with the stereotype.

“He was like, ‘That shouldn’t be a thing that I thought,’” she said.

Lawson said she appreciated his willingness to intersperse the difficult content with lessons on the beauty of African cultures. She said before every class he would play a song from a different part of the continent.

“They were all fantastic, they were all bops,” she said. “So I actually downloaded a bunch of them.”

Wolffe said he is currently working on an independent study about the implicit and explicit manifestations of racism with Osei-Opare. He said this came about after frequently going to his office hours with one question and talking to him for an hour or more.

“It’s just so refreshing to have professors like that who genuinely care about their students,” he said. “Getting to work with him has just been amazing.”

Lawson, who is planning to double major in two sciences, said Osei-Opare’s lessons will stick with her because of his energy and passion for teaching.

“This African History class is the most influential class I’ve ever taken,” she said.

Comments Off on Professor Osei-Opare Featured in The Fordham Ram Article, “Professor Exposes Students to Truths of African History.”

Filed under Faculty News, Fordham News, Uncategorized

Former Graduate Student, Louie Valencia, nominated for European Studies Book Award

The content below has copied and pasted from the Council for European Studies website:

The European Studies Book Award shortlist has been announced and it includes many notable and exciting books. The award honors the work of talented scholars who have written their first book on any subject in European Studies published within a two-year period. A multi-disciplinary Book Award Committee appointed by the Council for European Studies’ Executive Committee will choose the winner. Listed below are the shortlisted books.

News from Germany: The Competition to Control World Communications, 1900-1945 by Heidi J. Tworek (Harvard University Press);

Organic Resistance: The Struggle over Industrial Farming in Postwar France by Venus Bivar (The University of North Carolina Press);

Antiauthoritarian Youth Culture in Francoist Spain by Louie Dean Valencia-García (Bloomsbury Academic);

To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture by Eleonory Gilburd (Harvard University Press);

The First Modern Risk: Workplace Accidents and the Origins of European Social States by Julia Moses (Cambridge University Press);

The Return of Alsace to France, 1918-1939 by Alison Carrol (Oxford University Press);

Political Survivors: The Resistance, the Cold War, and the Fight against Concentration Camps after 1945 by Emma Kuby (Cornell University Press);

The Growth of Shadow Banking: A Comparative Institutional Analysis by Matthias Thiemann (Cambridge University Press).

The winner will be announced by early April in the European Studies Newsletter as well as on EuropeNow Daily. The winning author will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

This year’s jury is made up of: Megan Brown, Lindsey Chappell, Jonah Levy, Brittany Murray, Thomas Nolden (Chair), and Mark Vail.

Past awardees of the prize include Max Bergholz for Violence as a Generative Force: Identity, Nationalism, and Memory in a Balkan Community, Francine Hirsch for Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union, Chip Gagnon for The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s, Todd Shepard for his book, The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War and the Remaking of France (Cornell University Press), Mark I. Choate’s Emigrant Nation: The Making of Italy Abroad, Bonnie M. Meguid’s Party Competition between Unequals: Strategies and Electoral Fortunes in Western Europe, Paulina Bren for her book The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring, and Harris Mylonas for The Politics of Nation-Building: Making Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities.”

Comments Off on Former Graduate Student, Louie Valencia, nominated for European Studies Book Award

Filed under Alumni News

Prof. Sarah Elizabeth Penry’s forthcoming Book Talk, “From Resettlement to Revolution: The Comuneros of Peru,” at Livingston Campus (Rutgers University)

From Resettlement to Revolution: The Comuneros of Peru
Thursday, March 26, 3:20-4:40 TIL-246 Livingston Campus (Rutgers University)

In the sixteenth century, indigenous Andeans in the Viceroyalty of Peru were forcibly removed from their villages by Spanish colonizers and resettled in planned, self-governing towns. Rather than conforming to Spanish cultural and political norms, indigenous Andeans adopted and gradually refashioned the religious practices dedicated to Christian saints and the civil institutions imposed on them, in the process producing a new kind of civil society that merged their traditional understanding of collective life (the ayllu) with the Spanish notion of the común to demand participatory democracy. This hybrid concept of self-rule spurred the indigenous rebellions that erupted across the Andes against Spanish rulers and native hereditary nobility. Re-examining the era of the Great Rebellion through the letters and documents of the Andean people themselves, while eschewing a focus on well-known leaders such as Tupac Amaru, this presentation examines the community-based democracy that played a central role in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions and continues to galvanize indigenous movements in Bolivia today.

Sarah Elizabeth Penry, Assistant Professor of History and Latin American and Latinx Studies, Fordham University

Comments Off on Prof. Sarah Elizabeth Penry’s forthcoming Book Talk, “From Resettlement to Revolution: The Comuneros of Peru,” at Livingston Campus (Rutgers University)

Filed under Events, Faculty News, Faculty Profiles, Publications, Workshop

Graduate Students Receive Prestigious O’Connell Travel Grant

Graduate students Nicholas DeAntonis, Garrett McDonald, and Amanda Racine received prestigious O’Connell Travel Grants for research at archives in Massachusetts, Washington DC, and Montpellier, France.

Comments Off on Graduate Students Receive Prestigious O’Connell Travel Grant

Filed under Student Awards

A Recap of History Day at Fordham

On Monday, February 10, 2020, Fordham’s History Department hosted its annual History Day celebration. The event brought together some fascinating research from Fordham undergraduate and graduate students and Fordham faculty. The day’s keynote speaker was Prof. Amanda Armstrong. Below is just a snippet of the fascinating work and images we heard from our participants. You will hear from Brian Chen, Hannah Gonzalez, Grace Campagna, Emma Budd, Christian Decker, and Kelli Finn.

Brian Chen discussed Henry Kissinger’s diplomacy during the South Asia Crisis of 1971. He argued that given the geopolitical constraints of the Cold War and the limits of U.S. influence in the region, his response to the genocide in East Pakistan was not unreasonable. Kissinger’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” improved the prospects of peace between the United States and the Communist world, while also providing necessary humanitarian relief to the Bengali people. 

Hannah Gonzalez’s paper, “Natives, Naturalists, and Negotiated Access: William Bartram’s Navigation of the Eighteenth-Century Southeast,” examined how the naturalist William Bartram negotiated access to native territories and knowledge while constrained by colonial politics and a climate of cross-cultural hostilities. This navigation of the Southeast involved the utilization of imperial and colonial structures, from treaties to white traders. As recorded in Travels, Bartram’s journey demonstrates how naturalists negotiated the cultural landscape on levels beyond the scientific.

You can follow her on Twitter @hannahegonzalez.

Grace Campagna’s presentation, “The Quern: The Biography of a Medieval Object,” traced the lifecycle of an artifact, including its production, operation, and repurposing, using both historical and archaeological methods. The quernstones that archaeologists discovered in the Thames river came from a quarry in Germany in order to undergo the final stages of manufacturing in a London workshop. The presentation examined how communities assign value to everyday items and addressed the challenges of analyzing objects for which there are few primary sources.  You can access the full link to her article here:  https://medievallondon.ace.fordham.edu/exhibits/show/medieval-london-objects-3/quern 

Emma Budd’s presentation analyzed intersecting power dynamics in colonization, humanitarian intervention, and sexual assault. Through the lens of the Algerian War of Independence, she argued that the three aforementioned phenomena are intrinsically connected by their roots in a desire for power without concern for humanity. 

Christian Decker’s presentation talked about Polish immigrant networking from 1900 to 1945. It included discussion of family and labor networks, religious networks, all the way up to the formation of the Polish American Congress.

You can follow Christian Decker on Twitter @PCGamingFanatic

Kelli Finn’s presentation, “We survive. We’re Irish:” An Examination of Irish Immigration to the United States, 1840 -1890,” examined how the systemic poverty that Irish immigrants faced from the 1840s-1880s shaped their immigrant experience. It argued that the extreme poverty that the Irish faced lead to harsh stigmatism of Irish immigrants even in the workforce which in turn lead to poor living conditions for the Irish when they got to America and the highest mortality rates among immigrant groups at the time.

Comments Off on A Recap of History Day at Fordham

Filed under Conferences, Department Events, Events, Faculty Profiles, Grad Student News, Undergrad News, Undergraduate Research

Graduate History Workshop: “Retracing Power: Authority, Conflict, And Resistance in History”

The Fordham History Department, through its O’Connell Initiative on the Global History of Capitalism, is accepting abstracts for its Graduate Student Workshop. The workshop will take place on Friday, April 3, 2020 at the Rose Hill Campus. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a space for graduate students to present, read, and receive valuable feedback from other graduate students and Fordham faculty on projects they are planning on publishing.

Our goal is to foster conversations across a wide variety of topics. Concepts such as power, politics, and society can be interpreted broadly across time periods and geographies. Submissions can include topics on race, gender, class, political and social structures as well as economic, cultural, and religious institutions from antiquity to the modern era. We especially welcome papers exploring the following questions: How are culture and political power intertwined? How did gender, race, or class shape involvement in political institutions? How have class and race intersected with political power? How has the authority of religion affected social relations? How did the power structures of trade and colonialism function? What is the relationship between knowledge and power in social domains such as education, science, and/or medicine? Papers can investigate, but are not limited to, the question of power and:

Comments Off on Graduate History Workshop: “Retracing Power: Authority, Conflict, And Resistance in History”

Filed under Conferences, Events, Workshop

Ph.D. Candidate Nicholas J. DeAntonis’ article, “The Transnational Fight to End the Saudi Arabian Slave Trade: The British Anti‐Slavery Society, the African American Press, and the American Jewish Congress, 1953‐1960” is Now Out!

Ph.D. Candidate Nicholas J. DeAntonis just published an article, “The Transnational Fight to End the Saudi Arabian Slave Trade: The British Anti‐Slavery Society, the African American Press, and the American Jewish Congress, 1953‐1960” in Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research.

Below is the article abstract:

This article examines the transnational efforts of the British Anti‐Slavery Society to end the Saudi Arabian slave trade, highlighting the liveliness of human rights activism throughout the 1950s. The Society’s abolitionist efforts both succeeded and failed at the UN’s Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery in 1956. The Society failed to pass effective enforcement to end the slave trade, due to the growing concern for sovereignty amid decolonization throughout the Global South. Ironically, as decolonization spread, the Society’s abolitionist efforts were hampered. The Society’s own government avoided assisting them, fearing the imperialist perception of such actions. Nonetheless, the Supplementary Convention internationalized the cause and produced essential allies across the Atlantic: the African American press and American Jewish Congress. In the ensuing years, these journalists and activists denounced the burgeoning US–Saudi alliance and assured the continuity of the abolitionist message in the United States and globally. Although it is beyond the scope of this article, significant evidence exists that this new critical coalition helped shape human rights policy in the Kennedy administration.

Here is the link to the article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/pech.12395

Peace & Change publishes scholarly and interpretive articles on the achievement of a peaceful, just, and humane society. International and interdisciplinary in focus, the journal bridges the gap between peace researchers, educators, and activists. It publishes articles on a wide range of peace-related topics, including peace movements and activism, conflict resolution, nonviolence, internationalism, race and gender issues, cross-cultural studies, economic development, the legacy of imperialism, and the post-Cold War upheaval.

Nicholas J. DeAntonis

Comments Off on Ph.D. Candidate Nicholas J. DeAntonis’ article, “The Transnational Fight to End the Saudi Arabian Slave Trade: The British Anti‐Slavery Society, the African American Press, and the American Jewish Congress, 1953‐1960” is Now Out!

Filed under Global History, Grad Student News, Publications

“Unsettled Feeling & Critical Insight”! Graduate Class on Race and Gender

A group of graduate students studying at Fordham University has come together to analyze and provide insight into complex issues of both race and gender. Graduate students, in a course entitled, “Race and Gender” in the fall of 2019, led by Professor Kirsten Swinth, discussed race and gender in modern America.

As a final project, they each wrote several blogs, original pieces, and a comprehensive lesson plan that discusses a specific issue related to race and gender and/or a key historical insight that they obtained after completing the course.

Their publications are available on their student-designed public website (https://ufci2019.ace.fordham.edu ). Each blog post (written by one of the class members) tackles either race or gender through the incorporation of both secondary and primary sources.

It was their mission to use the knowledge obtained through spending a semester studying these social constructions in great detail to provide valuable insight into each discussion. In each blog post or lesson plan, the students selected a particular topic and offered their research and insights based on the knowledge they had accumulated over the course of the semester.

Students of all levels of higher education, professors, and history enthusiasts are welcome to interact with the information presented within each post. They are invited to consider questions that arise in handling these topics, and consider how their own insights could expand upon these ideas.

List of Contributors:

William Hogue 

William Hogue is a PhD student in History at Fordham University interested in the international intellectual and political history of US imperialism and its relationship to American Christianity. His research examines the history of multinational organizations, religious institutions and policy institutes, the politics of international order, and the connections between foreign and domestic policy. In particular, he focuses on the influence of liberation theology in Latin American revolutions and the US domestic human rights reaction to US foreign policy in Central America. 

Benjamin Van Dyne 

Benjamin Van Dyne is a PhD student in theology at Fordham University, where his work focuses on white and Christian supremacy and social solidarity in the face of violence and suffering. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and worked as a community organizer in Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, New York City and Long Island before attending Union Theological Seminary, where he graduated in with his Master of Divinity. He lives in the Bronx with his two children.

Katie Shine 

Katie Shine is a first-year doctoral candidate in modern history at Fordham University. Her academic interests include the First and Second World Wars, 20th century Italy, U.S.-Italy foreign relations, memory studies, race and nationalism, and Fascist society in western Europe. Having previously worked in higher education, tutoring, and program management in the career development and financial services spaces, she has had many valuable (and treasured) learning and teaching moments.

Grace Campagna 

Grace Campagna is an undergraduate Senior at Fordham University studying History, Anthropology, and Medieval Studies. She will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in History. Her academic interests include medieval England and women’s history. She has enjoyed tackling new topics and time periods during this course on Race and Gender in Modern America.

David Marchionni 

David Marchionni will complete his Masters’ degree in History from Fordham University in August 2020. His MA Thesis will focus on the Stonewall Riots, and its impact upon lesbian and gender non-conforming people of color.

Megan Stevens 
Owen Griffis Clow

Owen Griffis Clow is a doctoral student in the Fordham University Department of History. He researches modern American history with a focus on the late twentieth century (1970-2000), violence, and the American South. He is a graduate of Lawrence University (B.A.) and Columbia University (M.A.).

Comments Off on “Unsettled Feeling & Critical Insight”! Graduate Class on Race and Gender

Filed under Courses, Faculty Profiles, Public History, Teaching

Ph.D. Candidate Louisa Foroughi to Start a Tenure Track Position at Lafayette College

Louisa Foroughi, a 2020 Ph.D. candidate, will be starting a tenure track job in Medieval and Early Modern History in the history department at Lafayette College (Eaton, PA) beginning in the 2020-21 academic year. 

Working under Professor Maryanne Kowaleski, Louisa Foroughi specializes in the social and cultural history of late medieval England. Her dissertation, “What Makes a Yeoman? Status, Religion, and Material Culture in Later Medieval England,” explores identity construction among the English peasantry, c. 1348-1538. The yeomen were a group of affluent farmers who appear throughout English records from the early fifteenth century onward, but who have previously attracted little attention from medievalists. As Foroughi argues, the documentary records and manuscripts yeomen left behind provide rare insight into how medieval English peasants crafted and expressed their sense of self. Her analysis focuses on material culture, religion, office holding, and literacy as key aspects of yeoman identity, and integrates methods drawn from anthropology, archaeology, literary criticism, and religious studies in order to access the activities and mentalité of this little-studied group. 
Foroughi is also eager to share her wide-ranging interests in gender studies; material culture theory; food history; medieval medicine; fiber arts; and household books and miscellanies with the students at Lafayette College. She can’t wait to join the faculty in August.

Congratulations, Louisa!

Louisa Foroughi

Comments Off on Ph.D. Candidate Louisa Foroughi to Start a Tenure Track Position at Lafayette College

Filed under Grad Student News

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.

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

Filed under Faculty Awards, Faculty News, Faculty Profiles