In The New Republic, Fordham Historian Prof. Saul Cornell argues that “Liberal legal scholars are at risk of falling into a right-wing trap.” Cornell continues to argue: “In the pending congressional impeachment inquiry, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with (among other things) taking up the question of what the constitutional process of impeachment means. To aid them in this solemn task, committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and his colleagues on Wednesday summoned an impressive list of constitutional scholars to offer authoritative interpretations of the Constitution’s impeachment clauses.”
He continues: “The present debate over Donald Trump’s impeachment has largely been framed in originalist terms. But for all of this doctrine’s supposed appeal as a settled form of legal interpretation, it would be prudent to recognize that originalism now comes in about as many flavors as the Ben and Jerry’s product line. The dominant model, for the moment, is what’s known as public meaning originalism. Champions of this approach contend that the goal of interpreting the Constitution is to identify what a competent and reasonably well-informed speaker of American English in 1788 would have thought the words of the text meant. For Republicans and many movement conservatives, public meaning originalism is the default mode of inquiry for virtually every constitutional question. The Federalist Society, the influential right-wing legal group that now effectively issues the union card for entry into right-wing politics and law, has made public meaning originalism its unofficial philosophy, arguing in essence that originalism is not simply the best, but is indeed the only legitimate mode of interpreting the Constitution.”
In the sixteenth century, Andean communities were forcibly removed from their villages by Spanish colonizers and resettled in planned, self-governed towns. Rather than conforming to Spanish cultural and political norms, indigenous Andeans adopted and gradually refashioned the institutions imposed on them, in the process producing a new kind of civil society that merged their traditional understanding of collective life with the Spanish notion of the común to demand participatory democracy. This hybrid concept of self-rule spurred the indigenous rebellions that erupted across Latin America against Spanish rulers and native hereditary nobility. Through the letters and documents of the Andean people themselves, The People Are King 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.
“Elizabeth Penry offers a sharply original account of the Andean Age of Rebellions, placing it in a culture of civic populism whose roots extended to both pre-conquest Peru and medieval Spain. Where previous narratives have gravitated toward charismatic leaders, The People are King breathes a democratic spirit that is both moving and persuasive.”—Jeremy Mumford, Brown University
“This meticulously researched and gracefully narrated look at the transformation over time of the public sphere in indigenous communities of highland Bolivia offers readers a remarkable window into how and why the Great Rebellion of the 1780s unfolded by focusing on communities instead of on the leadership. This is an unusual and exciting second look at the prelude to independence in Spanish America.”—Joanne Rappaport, Georgetown University
“Elizabeth Penry’s skillfully crafted study reconstructs the ways colonial Andean comunes or commons became grassroots laboratories where modern ideas of communal self-government and popular sovereignty gradually emerged. Inscribed in the best traditions of Andean history and ethnohistory, The People are King is a much-needed contribution to the intricate ways indigenous community politics helped establish the foundations of the modern world.”— José Carlos de la Puente, author of Andean Cosmopolitans: Seeking Justice and Reward at the Spanish Royal Court
On October 24th, the History Department, along with the Modern Language Department hosted Dr. Teresa Fiore, author ofPre -Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy’s Transnational Ligations and Colonial Legacies (Fordham University Press, 2017) to speak about Italy’s history of emigration to all continents of the world, as well as its recent history of immigrants coming to Italy. Dr. Fiore is the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University. She is an expert in migration studies from a socio-cultural perspective. In particular, she focuses on immigration to Italy and the worldwide Italian diaspora. Her recent book, as well as her talk, emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to research and cultural analysis.
Dr. Fiore’s focus on socioeconomic contexts and cultural texts demonstrate the ways in which Italy is presently ‘pre-occupied’ with its past emigration, as well as colonialism. Dr. Fiore spoke to a room full of captivated students about how “the contemplative understanding of Italian civilization cannot be understood without the rigorous reconsideration of the inflation of its outbound and inbound migrations, as well as its colonialism and imperialism.” From early Italian diaspora to recent demographic stagnation, her presentation linked Italy’s long history of movement.
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In her new book, Kirsten Swinth, Ph.D., associate professor of history, examines misperceptions of American feminism’s past. From failed promises of women “having it all” to the contemporary struggle for equal wages for equal work, Swinth’s book exposes how government policies often undermined tenets of the movement known as “second-wave feminism,” which took place from 1960s through the 1970s.
The book, Feminism’s Forgotten Fight: The Unfinished Struggle for Work and Family (Harvard University Press, 2018), argues that second-wave feminists did not fail to deliver on their promises; rather, a conformist society pushed back against far-reaching changes sought by these activists. The book’s arc begins with the intimate sphere of the family in the 1950s and then moves on to larger societal changes where two-income families became the unavoidable economic norm.
“My focus is on the story of a broad feminist vision that wasn’t fully realized,” said Swinth. “There were a lot of gains generally, but the movement also generated an antifeminist backlash so that most of the aspirations, like a sane and sustainable balance for work and family, were defeated.” (Full article available at link below)
Ronald Braasch recently published an article titled: “The Skirmish: A Statistical Analysis of Minor Combats During the Hundred Years’ War, 1337-1453”in the Journal of Medieval Military History XVI (June, 2018). Ron is seeking to shed light on a neglected aspect of medieval warfare and discover what impact these smaller fights had on the conduct of warfare during the Hundred Years’ War. Skirmishes existed somewhere between a battle and duel, occurred during all varieties of locations and environments, and formed an integral martial function between medieval combatants. Moreover, skirmishes were a common feature during the Hundred Years’ War as the chroniclers wrote so much about them. As a case study, Ron’s work examines the chronicles of Jean le Bel, Jean Froissart, Enguerrand de Monstrelet, and Matthieu d’Escouchy, whose narratives collectively span the entirety of the conflict. By examining chronicles quantitatively, Ron’s research indicates that the outcomes of skirmishes could influence the strategies of military leaders and that indiscipline was a key component in French military losses against English, Burgundian, and various other opponents. Ron is entering the first year of his PhD in History, where he is studying the roles of combat support personnel in the armies of Edward III.
Full Citation: “The Skirmish: A Statistical Analysis of Minor Combats During the Hundred Years’ War, 1337-1453.”Journal of Medieval Military History XVI, (June, 2018): 123-157.
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Christine Kelly, a PhD candidate in History, recently published an article titled “Folk as the Sound of Self-Liberation: The Career and Performance Identity of Odetta,” based on her dissertation research. Christine shared with us the abstract for the article:
Odetta Felious Gordon Holmes – commonly known by her stage name, “Odetta” – played an instrumental role in the rise of American folk music as a mouthpiece for dissent during the social movements of the post-war era. She abandoned a life she planned in opera and oratorio for a career as an interpreter of African American slave songs and spirituals, material originally recorded by song collectors John and Alan Lomax in travels through the Mississippi Delta region. Odetta has claimed that while a life in oratorio would have enriched her vocally, its musical lineage had “nothing to do” with her experience. In contrast, a new repertoire of songs she gathered – songs derived from slave laborers, prison chain gangs, longshoremen, and church congregations – allowed her to shape her identity as a performing artist in crucial ways throughout her fifty year career. As a folk singer, Odetta co-constructed a cultural movement which drew inspiration from song writers of the past – composers of “freedom hymns” – to seek liberation in the present. For Odetta, such liberation was, at first, primarily for herself. As an African American woman who suffered the indignities of segregation, she felt she carried a “dragon” inside, one that hated herself and others. With a broad, black body of which she was ashamed, on stage Odetta tried to conceal and neutralize herself as a racial and gendered subject as she donned long, dark clothing, and threw herself fully into the material she performed. Through an act of self-abnegation, she performed the music, often of black men, who insisted on affirming their existence, the validity of their subjectivity, despite the oppressions that came with circumstances they faced involving humiliation and forced confinement. As an arbiter of the folk tradition, Odetta offered her body as bridge to connect a new generation of listeners with marginalized experiences of the past. As such, Odetta became a cultural broker of a folk tradition of dissent. She relied on a common method among performing artists – benefit concerts – to raise substantial funds for civil rights causes. Odetta’s life in music became a site of self-emancipation as she transformed from a suffering artist who often behaved subserviently to one who invented an identity which insisted on her own personal dignity. Furthermore, the exposure she gave her listeners to a nearly forgotten black cultural heritage enabled them to empathize with the experience of past singer-songwriters, seeing injustice in the present as more pressing than before. Odetta’s appeal to the idiom of folk and the benefit concerts she held directly supported the civil rights movement and related social mobilizations through the 1960s and 1970s as she helped to inspire not only political and legal change, but freedom in the arena of culture and emotion.
Esther Liberman Cuenca, PhD candidate in History, recently published an article in Urban History (Cambridge University Press) titled “Town clerks and the authorship of custumals in medieval England”. Below is her abstract and a link to the article.
This article examines the expertise and duties of clerks in medieval English towns, particularly their roles in creating custumals, or collections of written customs. Customs could regulate trade, of ce-holding, prostitution and even public nuisance. Many clerks were anonymous, and their contributions to custumals understudied. The careers of relatively well-known clerks, however, do provide insights into how some clerks shaped custumals into civic repositories of customary law. By analysing their oaths and known administrative practices, which involved adapting material from older custumals, this article argues that town clerks played critical roles in transmitting customary law to future generations of administrators.
This past month, Graduate Student Sal Cipriano published an article in The Scottish Historical Review, called “The Scottish Universities and Opposition to the National Covenant, 1638”. Below is a link to the journal’s website and his abstract. Continue reading →
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