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Stephen Leccese is now Dr. Stephen Leccese! Congratulations on Passing your Dissertation Defense!!

We would like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Stephen Leccese. He successfully passed his dissertation today: “The Discovery of the Consumer: Economic Regulation and Social Policy, 1865-1905.” Please congratulate him when you see him!

Stephen Leccese (@srleccese) | Twitter

You can follow him on Twitter @srleccese

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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.

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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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An Exciting Week at Fordham

Prof. Kirsten Swinth was cited in The New York Times’ article, “‘A Very Unwelcome Feeling’: The First Women at Yale Look Back.” You can read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/upshot/yale-first-women-discrimination.html?searchResultPosition=1

You can follow Prof. Kristen Swinth on Twitter @kswinth

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Kisten Swinth

The students of Prof. Steven Stoll’s Environmental History of New City course, taught in conjunction with the New-York Historical Society, have been mapping and connecting NYC’s past, present, and future. You can watch and learn more about their efforts here: https://news.fordham.edu/arts-and-culture/mapping-the-past-with-the-new-york-historical-society/

Image result for steven stoll fordham
Steven Stoll

Prof. Yuko Miki, the recent recipient of the American Historical Association’s Wesley-Logan Prize for the outstanding book in African diaspora history, discussed Race & Citizenship in Latin America alongside Fordham Law Professor Tanya Hernandez. The Maloney Library’s Behind the Book Series organized this event.

Yuko Miki

Prof. Saul Cornell and Dr. Nicole Hemmer discussed the history and politics of impeachment. In case you missed it or want re-watch it, you can re-catch their fascinating exchange here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPy_rDyLfow

You can follow Prof. Saul Cornell on Twitter @SaulCornell

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Saul Cornell

Prof. Nana Osei-Opare was interviewed by Starr FM, a Ghanaian based radio station, about his thoughts on the historic Africa-Russia Summit in Sochi.

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

Nana Osei-Opare

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HGSA Fall and Spring Events

Stephen Lecesse, PhD candidate and head of HGSA, has given us the inside scoop on the events that HGSA has organized this semester and what’s coming up in the Spring! Read Below:

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Postcard from Spain… PhD candidate Rachel Podd reports on her research.

We’re happy to hear from Rachel Podd in this postcard she sent about her research in Spain this Summer. Rachel is a Ph.D candidate in the History department and helps lead undergraduates on el Camino de Santiago every spring. This summer she stayed after walking the camino to work on her own research. Rachel writes:

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First O’Connell Initiative Event of the Semester!

WHO: Dr. Johan Mathew, Rutgers University.

 

WHAT:  “Unveiling Money: Counterfeits, Arbitrage, and Finance across the Arabian Sea”, based on Dr. Mathew’s recent book Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism Across the Arabian Sea (University of California Press, 2016).

 

WHEN: October 17 at 5:30 pm

WHERE: South Lounge, Lincoln Center Campus

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OCTOBER 9th! Informal Talk Given by Scott Bruce with Richard Gyug

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by | September 25, 2018 · 7:42 pm

International Conference on Sustainable Cities

Fordham, Columbia, and NYU are collaborating for a 2 day conference, interdisciplinary and international, on sustainable cities. For more information and registration, check out Fordham’s page: SUSTAINABLE CITIES CONFERENCE INFORMATION

May 1-2, 2018

Fordham University
Lincoln Center Campus, McNally Amphitheatre
113 West, 60th Street, New York, NY

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Lectures in London… Race and Risorgimento: An Unexplored Chapter?

In spite of the crucial role race played in European nationalisms, it still remains largely absent in the historiography of the Italian Risorgimento. Late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sources disclose the keen interest paid by Risorgimento nationalists in the history, the culture, the language and even the bodies of the Italians. Against this backdrop, the question of how the search for the “material essence” of Italian-ness shaped and affected the early nineteenth-century debate about the Italian identity becomes imperative.

This and other questions have been discussed and examined by Fordham Ph.D. candidate in modern European history Edoardo M. Barsotti, who was invited to deliver a lecture about his dissertation for the Italian Department Research Seminars at the University College of London, on February 21st 2018.

At the seminar, hosted by Dr. Ferrara Degli Uberti, Edoardo has discussed the extent to which the quest for the “first” Italians, and the question of the permanence and heredity of cultural, psychosocial and physical traits characterized the works of Italian national-patriotic intelligentsia since the Revolutionary age, and how they evolved, and interacted with the surrounding political debate about the future Italian nationhood well into the 1850s and 1860s. In such an outlook, the Risorgimento’s idea of race appears as a multilayered and multifaceted construction in which the contributions of different traditions, ideologies, and disciplines are evident. The resulting ideas of an Italian “race,” or even physical understanding of an Italian “national type,” result, in effect, from the coalescence of several concepts borrowed from the antiquarian tradition, Biblical genealogies, linguistics, philology, and, of course, the natural science of man.

In the concluding remarks of the seminar, the guest lecturer, the discussant, and the public discussed the theoretical and methodological questions concerning the different understandings of race in modern history, as well as their permanence in the public discourse about national identity in contemporary Italy and Europe as well.

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