Publication Date

February 1, 2015

2014 Awards for Publications

Herbert Baxter Adams Prize

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Daniela Bleichmar, University of Southern California

Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment (University of Chicago Press, 2012)

Daniela Bleichmar has produced a compellingly original and methodologically sophisticated study of how the European Enlightenment sought to describe, represent, and comprehend the natural world. Imaginative, lucid, and intellectually engaging, it is an example of interdisciplinary history at its very best. Its particular success lies in its skillful embrace of both the visual and imperial turns in the writing of European history, and its undeniable achievement in shedding new light on both.

George Louis Beer Prize

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Mary Louise Roberts, University of Wisconsin–Madison

What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

This beautifully written book revises our understanding of the American invasion and liberation of France. Gender and sexuality are the windows onto this international history: Americans’ attitudes about their role in a postwar world were forged not only at Yalta and Tehran, Roberts argues, but also on the ground in relationships between soldiers and European women. Roberts writes with courage and nuance about an ambivalent and sometimes violent relationship long hidden by celebratory historiographies.

Jerry Bentley Prize

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Gregory T. Cushman, University of Kansas

Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

This imaginative and far-ranging book argues that guano was key to globally transformative phenomena, from industrialization to “neo-ecological imperialism” in settler colonies and from conservationist visions to spectacular environmental failures. For fully integrating Latin America in Pacific history, re-centering 19th-century world history on the Pacific region, and artfully combining ecological, geopolitical, and cultural analysis, Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World deserves recognition as a pathbreaking, original contribution to world history.

Albert J. Beveridge Award

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Kate Brown, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013)

This comparative history of Richland, Washington, and Ozersk, Russia, centers on a profound irony: divisions so deep that they threatened human existence fostered commonalities among these two plutonium-producing towns, well before activists from each place connected with each other. By alerting us to common histories, Plutopia counters dominant understandings of the Cold War couched in terms of divergent or separate paths. Deeply and multilingually researched in difficult conditions requiring perseverance in the face of official secrecy, courage in the face of personal exposure, and empathy in the presence of suffering, Plutopia adds to recent scholarship that emphasizes the costs of the Cold War in the places where it turned hot.

Paul Birdsall Prize

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Jacob Darwin Hamblin, Oregon State University

Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Hamblin presents an innovative exploration of the ways in which Western military officials and scientists contemplated harnessing natural disasters as weapons of war during the Cold War. Hamblin has crafted an international history of the creation of “catastrophic environmentalism,” the idea that mankind could and should interfere with the environment to achieve strategic ends. The implications of his discoveries will reach beyond the fields of military and strategic history.

James Henry Breasted Prize

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Alex Mullen, All Souls College, University of Oxford

Southern Gaul and the Mediterranean: Multilingualism and Multiple Identities in the Iron Age and Roman Periods (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

What makes Alex Mullen’s study exceptional is that she courageously takes in hand a very longue durée of Mediterranean history, and truly makes use of the totality of the evidence, ­archaeological as well as textual. In particular she succeeds in making historical sense out of a complex body of ­inscriptions in several languages. Her use of sociolinguistics and her sophisticated understanding of identity help to make this deeply learned study a major contribution.

Albert B. Corey Prize

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Lissa Wadewitz, Linfield College

The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries, and Bandits on the Salish Sea (University of Washington Press, 2012)

Lissa Wadewitz’s The Nature of Borders illuminates beautifully the variables that affected the salmon population of the transnational Pacific Northwest during the 19th and 20th centuries. Wadewitz finds that, rather than mere urbanization or industrial innovation, it was the exploitation of the porous US-Canada boundary that imperiled the species. This careful study speaks volumes about the impact of borders on the historical actor least confined by the dictates of the nation-state: the natural world.

Raymond J. Cunningham Prize

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Jacob Anbinder, Yale University (BA, 2014)

“The South Shall Ride Again: The Origins of MARTA and the Making of the Urban South,” Yale Historical Review 2, no. 3 (Spring 2013): 37–57

Faculty adviser: Glenda E. Gilmore, Yale University

Anbinder’s meticulous analysis, based on extensive primary and secondary sources, demonstrates how a chronological study of Atlanta’s transportation system (MARTA) can provide rich insight into the race and class issues impacting a city’s economic development. His work exposes how a southern city that styled itself in the post–World War II era as modern, tolerant, and progressive ultimately built a public transportation system that entrenched racial division, due, in part, to the political interests of a host of both white and black historical actors who saw de facto “segregated” neighborhoods as a more secure basis of political power.

John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian History

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Charles K. Armstrong, Columbia ­University

Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950–1992 (Cornell University Press, 2013)

In this fresh and compelling narrative, Charles Armstrong methodically probes the apparently perennial question about North Korea: Why won’t it fail? Tyranny of the Weak situates the formation and endurance of the North Korean state in the global context of the Cold War and engagement with South Korea. Drawing on both well-known and new archival materials from multiple sides of the divide, it offers a rigorously argued and deeply grounded account that deals deftly with the abundance as well as absence of sources.

Morris D. Forkosch Prize

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Deborah Cohen, North­western University

Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain (Oxford University Press, 2013)

This is an astoundingly original book that provides great insight into the intimate work­ings of families in modern Britain. Utilizing rich archival sources like diaries and clinical records, Cohen discusses why some Britons revealed secrets while others obscured them. Examining diverse topics ranging from mixed-race children and the treatment of mental disability to illegitimacy and homosexuality, Cohen showcases the complexities of familial shame and revelation while brilliantly charting the uneven rise of contemporary confessional cultures.

Leo Gershoy Award

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Andy Wood, Durham University

The Memory of the People: Custom and Popular Senses of the Past in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Andy Wood’s The Memory of the People presents a new interpretation of the interplay of memory, law, and custom in early-modern England. This book’s innovative methodology deepens our understanding of the social memory of the common folk, arguing that popular memory was local, pragmatic, and embodied in customary law, which gave it great staying power across the period. Wood’s extensive archival research and wide secondary reading illuminate new aspects of everyday life and together provide a model for future research.

William and Edwyna Gilbert Award

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Lendol Calder, Augustana College

“The Stories We Tell,” OAH Magazine of History 27, no. 3 (2013): 5–8

The survey is both our gateway course and our greatest challenge. For 10 years, Calder collected and analyzed his students’ understanding of history in such courses to better comprehend his students’ perceptions and approaches. His consequent switch to emphasizing narrative and the telling of “stories” in his courses over approaching the materials conceptually and theoretically merits great attention as we think about how to both encourage historical understanding and inspire enthusiasm in the general ­population.

Friedrich Katz Prize in Latin American and Caribbean History

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Piero Gleijeses, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976–1991 (University of North Carolina Press, 2013)

Based on monumental research in archives on three continents, including Cuban archives that no other foreign scholars have been allowed to use, Visions of Freedom puts Cuba’s long military mission to Angola at the center of the fight against apartheid and at the heart of Cuba’s self-image as a ­revolutionary nation. Defying both the Soviets and the United States, Cuba emerges in this absorbing narrative as relatively autonomous and as powerfully influential on the global stage of the Cold War.

Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in Women’s History

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Afsaneh Najmabadi, Harvard University

Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Duke University Press, 2013)

Afsaneh Najmabadi skillfully combines analysis of historical texts and life stories with ethnographic observation of meetings among medical professionals, government officials, and prospective patients for sex-reassignment surgery to trace the complex genealogies of homosexuality and transsexuality in Iran beginning in the mid-20th century. Exploring how nonnormatively gendered Iranians drew from both local and global discourses to narrate their experiences and influence policy, her multilayered account illuminates the spaces for agency within a discriminatory state biopolitics.

Martin A. Klein Prize in African History

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Allen F. Isaacman, University of Minnesota

Barbara S. Isaacman, independent scholar

Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007 (Ohio University Press, 2013)

Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development reveals the human and environmental costs of a high-modernist project undertaken by a racist colonial state and continued by its independent successor. Using a wide lens that examines hydrology, food security, political economy, and political conflict, and drawing on a vast set of oral histories, the authors explore how the project fundamentally changed the ecology of the Zambezi Valley and the lives of many thousands of Africans while yielding little development for Mozambiquans. This elegantly written, multi-faceted account raises vital questions about political sovereignty and development in colonial and postcolonial Africa.

Littleton-Griswold Prize

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Michele Landis Dauber, Stanford Law School

The Sympathetic State: Disaster Relief and the Origins of the American Welfare State (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

In The Sympathetic State, Michele Landis Dauber skillfully and persuasively argues that the long tradition of federal disaster relief provided political and constitutional precedent for the American social welfare state. This ambitious, compelling book provides important insights about legal debates within the Roosevelt administration and historical interpretations of the Constitution’s general welfare clause. Dauber powerfully contests the notion of a 1930s judicial revolution and contributes significantly to a revisionary legal history of the New Deal.

J. Russell Major Prize

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Arlette Jouanna, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III

Joseph Bergin, translator, University of ­Manchester

The St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre: The Mysteries of a Crime of State (Manchester University Press, 2013)

This is a career-capping tour de force. Jouanna’s mastery of primary and secondary sources in many languages allows her to weave together a compelling narrative of the political and diplomatic history of Saint-Barthélemy as event. She combines her narrative with insights from recent scholarship about religious violence and the cultural history of the period. This timely and important book sets a very high bar. It is sure to be the standard account of this still-controversial subject for a long time.

Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize in Italian History

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Nicholas Terpstra, University of Toronto

Cultures of Charity: Women, Politics, and the Reform of Poor Relief in Renaissance Italy (Harvard University Press, 2013)

Drawing on his deep knowledge of Bologna’s archives and his decades of anthropologically inflected work on confraternities, Terpstra analyzes a series of social experiments in public welfare as women’s life-cycle poverty compelled the attention of politically anxious male elites. This humane and engaging study of collective action revises how historians understand early-modern European poor relief, and provides a supple model for investigating pragmatic and aestheticized responses to the poor in other times and places.

George L. Mosse Prize

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Derek Sayer, Lancaster University

Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History (Princeton University Press, 2013)

In a scintillating challenge to more conventional narratives of 20th-century Europe and indeed to ways of writing history, this book positions Prague’s distinctive artistic and intellectual achievements as a “prehistory of postmodernity.” Set against the city’s recurrent and often brutal political dislocations, with vast erudition that incorporates the literature, music, arts, and architecture of Prague’s cultural avant-garde from before World War I through the Velvet Revolution, this study is as conceptually bold as it is impressively learned.

James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History

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Aaron Spencer Fogleman, Northern Illinois University

Two Troubled Souls: An Eighteenth-Century Couple’s Spiritual Journey in the Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press, 2013)

Two Troubled Souls is the gripping account of a restless missionary couple who left Europe behind for adventures in North America and the Greater Caribbean. Providing deep insights into their private lives, Aaron Fogleman examines sources in four languages and nine archives in three countries and expertly reconstructs the disease environments they entered, the religious landscapes they traversed, and the forms of unfreedom they witnessed as they crisscrossed the Atlantic world.

Premio del Rey

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Janina Safran, Pennsylvania State University

Defining Boundaries in al-Andalus: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Islamic Iberia (Cornell University Press, 2013)

Safran’s book explores complex issues of ethno-religious identity and communal relations in al-Andalus after the eighth-century Muslim conquest and the implications of the elaboration and maintenance of community boundaries. Using complicated juridical texts, Safran traces how conversion, intermarriage, and acculturation complicated rigid notions of Islamic and non-Islamic identity, and reveals the contingent and shifting nature of ethno-religious identity. It is a compelling and sophisticated book with applications beyond al-Andalus and the Islamic world.

John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History

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Sunil S. Amrith, Birkbeck College, University of London

Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013)

Taking the Bay of Bengal as its unit of study, this innovative work highlights the interconnected histories of South Asia and Southeast Asia across a common body of water. It is pathbreaking in linking the social and political history of migration to a changing physical environment and global economic context. Combining sweeping vistas that span centuries with intimate portraits of individual lives, this highly readable book gives new meaning to oceanic history.

James Harvey Robinson Prize

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Trevor R. Getz, San Francisco State University

Liz Clarke, illustrator

Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History (Oxford University Press, 2012)

This innovative, compelling “graphic history,” created by historian Trevor Getz and illustrator Liz Clarke, uncovers the story of an enslaved West African woman seeking freedom. Weaving together a court transcript from 1876 and Abina’s story before the trial within a broader context of gender, colonialism, and world history, the book shares historical evidence as well as interpretation to present a powerful tool for teaching history and teaching about history.

Roy Rosenzweig Prize for ­Innovation in Digital History

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Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, 1854–1865, Kansas City Public Library

Civil War on the Western Border ( presents several thousand digitized documents and images gathered from 25 different archives to illuminate the social and political history of the 1854–65 Missouri-Kansas conflict. The site offers a range of innovative pathways through the sources, including maps, timelines, scholarly thematic essays, topical encyclopedia entries, lesson plans, and an interactive relationship viewer that provides dynamic graphical representations of the connections between people, places, groups, and events.

Wesley-Logan Prize

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Jacob S. Dorman, University of Kansas

Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Chosen People is a bold, compelling history of Black Israelite religions among African-descended people in places as far afield as Kansas, Harlem, and Ethiopia. Highlighting Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ideas and practices, the book explores the dynamic, historically specific “bricolage” that made Black Israelite religions. It is a novel intervention in scholarly debates of cultural change in the African diaspora, a must-read for scholars of the African diaspora, religious studies, and cultural production.

2014 Awards for Scholarly and Professional Distinction

Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award

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Clif Stratton, Washington State University

Stratton has successfully engaged students in his classes using inquiry-based frameworks and has made these techniques scalable and applicable to a contemporary issues course for Washington State University’s general education curriculum. The course promises to apply historical inquiry to contemporary issues of equity, race, class, justice, and global conflict. By offering thousands of students a context for these issues, he has a deep impact. Stratton stands out as an exceptional teacher-scholar.

Beveridge Family Teaching Award

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The education team at Joseph B. Radez Elementary School, Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District, New York.

Laura Gagnon, Pamela O’Connor, Tara Coppolo, Donna Pacatte, Jen Hanes, Meka Osterhoudt, Rosemary Peterson, Cathy Dewitt, Susan Ginsburg, and Elizabeth Bisnett, Joseph B. Radez Elementary School, Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District, New York

The Radez Elementary School education team “brought history to life” by integrating mapmaking, audio-visual production, writing, and acting with basic research and project collaboration in producing multimedia local history projects. These projects engaged the fifth-grade students at the heart of the program, while involving students of other ages and the community generally in a way that can be learned from and ­reproduced by teachers elsewhere. They exemplify excellence in both teaching and innovation.

Equity Awards

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Individual Award:Ernesto Chávez, University of Texas at El Paso

Ernesto Chávez, prof­­essor of history, is the recipient of this year’s individual Equity Award in recognition of his achievements in mentoring a new generation of Latina and Latino scholars to enter the study of Chicana and Chicano, Mexican American, and borderlands history and earn doctoral degrees. Professor Chávez’s scholarship has focused on Mexican Americans in the 19th- and 20th-century United States.

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Institutional Award:Jim C. Harper II, chair, on behalf of the Department of History, North Carolina Central University

The Department of History at North Carolina Central University is the recipient of this year’s Equity Award for an institution that has achieved excellence in recruiting underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the historical profession and retaining them. Since 1939, the history department has produced important African American scholars. Through the decades, the faculty has mentored African American students who have majored in history and produced 75 alumni who have earned PhDs in history.

Herbert Feis Award

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Naomi Oreskes, Harvard University

Naomi Oreskes, prof­­essor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, has shaped the practice of public history as an internationally recognized historian of science; she has engaged with communities and professionals across the disciplines who wish to maintain the primacy of evidence, context, and truth in the dialogue between historians and public decision makers. By insisting that “history matters,” she has interjected and extended the role of the past in the public policy debates of the present, shaping the careers of her students, colleagues, and the communities they serve.

Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award

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Leonard N. Rosenband, Utah State University

With a deep commi­tment to history and to the life of the mind, Rosenband has taught, advised, and mentored generations of Utah State students. For the thousands of students he has engaged with his magnetic lectures, his guidance of their research, and his readiness to talk about their studies and their lives, Rosenband remains a lasting influence.

Honorary Foreign Member

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Roger Chartier, Collège de France, Paris

The 2014 Honorary Foreign Membership is awarded to Roger Chartier of the Collège de France. Throughout his long career, most of it at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Chartier has been an innovative and border-crossing historian. He reoriented the celebrated Annales school of historiography by incorporating cultural and intellectual life into its earlier focus on society and economy; he energized the field of the history of the book with studies of reading practices and attention to the ways the material features of texts shaped their uses and reception; joining ­literature to history, he explored early-modern playwriting. Fluent in several languages, he routinely reaches out to colleagues in the United States, Spain, and Latin America. His robust American connection includes informal mentoring of young historians doing research in France and, since 2001, a regular visiting appointment at the University of Pennsylvania. As one of the letters endorsing his nomination for this honor aptly put it, Chartier is “a modern-day Erasmus.”

Awards for Scholarly Distinction

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Keith M. Baker, Stanford University

Keith M. Baker (BA, MA, Cambridge University; PhD, University of London) is the J. E. Wallace Sterling Professor in the Humanities at Stanford, where he has taught since 1988. He served as the cognizant dean for the humanities, School of Humanities and Sciences, and director of both the Stanford Humanities Center and the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. He began his professional career at the University of Chicago, where he pioneered the wildly successful institutional form that he later introduced at Stanford: the workshop tailored to the needs of advanced graduate students writing dissertations.

Baker is universally acknowledged as a brilliant and original intellectual historian and a preeminent interpreter of the 18th-century Enlightenment. In his monumental, prize-winning Condorcet: From Natural Philosophy to Social Mathematics (1976), he tackled the problem of the origins of the social sciences, considering not only their epistemological underpinnings but also their political and bureaucratic preconditions. He next addressed the relationship of the Enlightenment to the French Revolution. Inventing the French Revolution (1990) thoroughly altered the terms of a discussion that had once turned on the direct translation of the philosophes’ ideas into revolutionary action. Baker argued that available 18th-century “political languages” enabled those familiar with them to seize the interpretive power and label otherwise inchoate events as constituting a “revolution.” His book represents the most influential and theoretically sophisticated statement of the autonomy of political discourse and its role in bringing about the great upheaval of 1789.

Baker’s intellectual rigor is legendary among his students, as is his generosity as a mentor. He is a model of what it means to be an analyst of texts, a historian, and a teacher.

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Susan Mann, University of California, Davis

Susan Mann (BA, University of Michigan; PhD, Stanford University) is professor of history, emerita, at UC Davis, where she taught from 1989 until her retirement in 2010. She chaired the departments of history and of East Asian languages and cultures, and served as president of the Association of Asian Studies.

Mann is unquestionably the premier historian of women and gender in late-imperial/early-modern China. Her Precious Records: Women in China’s Long Eighteenth Century (1997) received the Association for Asian Studies’ Levenson Prize for the best book on pre-1800 China, and The Talented Women of the Zhang Family (2007) won the AHA’s Fairbank Prize for the best book in East Asian history. Both were pathbreaking interventions, the first in recognizing the influential role of elite Chinese women, the second in exploring the importance of same-sex social environments for elite Chinese women and men. Moreover, both brilliantly demonstrated how placing women and gender at the center of the inquiry changes our overall view of Chinese history—especially by illuminating the changing class dynamics of the Qing dynasty.

Mann has made exceptional contributions to the growth of her field. She has provided elegant translations of Qing texts, written a widely used AHA pamphlet on women and gender in East Asia, mentored numerous young scholars, and been a prizewinning teacher of both undergraduates and graduate students. Her work has promoted feminist scholarship as a powerful lens through which to reimagine Chinese history and enriched feminist scholarship by including the Chinese historical experience within its purview. Neither field will ever be the same.

Jan Vansina, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Jan Vansina (PhD, University of Leuven) is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he taught from 1960 until his retirement in 1994. Together with his colleague Philip Curtin, he founded the first African Studies program in the United States and trained the first generation of US historians of Africa. Vansina was an accidental Africanist. A specialist in medieval European history who had studied some anthropology, he did not immediately embark on a teaching career but took a research position with the Royal Museum of the Belgian Congo at Tervuren and began fieldwork among the Kuba. He soon extended his work outside Congo to Rwanda and Burundi.

Vansina’s cross-disciplinary experience enabled him to provide a methodological paradigm for studying the precolonial African past. At a time when many scholars believed that cultures without written records had no history, or at best an unknowable history, Vansina discovered that he could analyze the stories he heard from his Kuba informants with the methods he had learned for extracting historical information from medieval dirges. The result was his pioneering Oral Tradition (1961). Reworked in Oral Tradition as History (1985), it became the indispensable manual not only for Africanists but also for a wide array of scholars dependent on oral evidence.

Vansina published numerous monographs on Central Africa, continuing to innovate methodologically. Paths in the Rainforests (1990), for example, relies primarily on comparative linguistic data and archaeological evidence. Vansina’s most recent book appeared in 2013. We honor him here as a creative scholar, an institution builder, and a mentor.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Attribution must provide author name, article title, Perspectives on History, date of publication, and a link to this page. This license applies only to the article, not to text or images used here by permission.