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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Filed under Faculty Awards, Faculty News, Faculty Profiles, Global History

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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Tobias Hrynick, Nicholas DeAntonis, and Rachel Podd Receive Fellowships.


We are pleased to announce that graduate student Tobias Hrynick, who received a Distinguished Research Fellowship for his research on medieval environmental history.

Bravo and congrats to graduate student Nicholas DeAntonis, who received an Alumni Dissertation Fellowship for his research on human rights and U.S. diplomatic history! His dissertation is entitled, “The Struggle to End the Suadi Arabian Slave Trade: The United States, the United Nations and Transnational Non-Governmental Organization, 1953-1963.”

Many congratulations to graduate student Rachel Podd, who received an Alumni Dissertation Fellowship for her research on health and disease in medieval England! Her dissertation is entitled, “Health in Late Medieval England: The Impact of Age, Sex, and Income on the Lived Experience.”

You can follow Tobias Hrynick on Twitter @elmermalmesbury

You can follow Nicholas DeAntonis on Twitter @NDeAntonis

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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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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.”

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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

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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.

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