Publication Date

January 1, 2016

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

The following is a list of recipients of the various awards, prizes, and honors that were presented during the 130th annual meeting of the American Historical Association on Thursday, January 7, 2016, in Grand Ballroom D at the Hilton Atlanta Hotel.

2015 Awards for Publications

Herbert Baxter Adams Prize

Emily J. Levine, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Dreamland of Humanists: Warburg, Cassirer, Panofsky, and the Hamburg School (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

This intellectual and cultural history, deeply considered and researched, sensitively explores ideas and their wider impact. It skillfully interweaves intellectual biography with an analysis of place and epoch, offering new and insightful perspectives on academic life in the Weimar Republic, the German Jewish experience, exile, and the development of art history and philosophy in the first half of the 20th century. Levine’s multidimensional treatment of figures from the Hamburg school enriches our understanding of the urban intellectual geography of Weimar Germany, and places Hamburg alongside Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and Dessau as a center of innovation and turmoil.

George Louis Beer Prize

Frederick Cooper, New York University
Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945– 1960 (Princeton University Press, 2014)

With magisterial command of postwar French and African history, as well as prodigious research, Cooper overturns the familiar narrative of decolonization, persuasively undermining the teleology of anticolonial nationalism. He shows how French and West African intellectuals and politicians attempted to reimagine the empire through novel forms of geopolitical and social integration and how national states emerged only after the failure to establish common ideas of citizenship. This revolutionary study is essential to understanding both European and African history since 1945.

Jerry Bentley Prize

Adam Clulow, Monash University
The Company and the Shogun: The Dutch Encounter with Tokugawa Japan (Columbia University Press, 2014)

This remarkable study offers a stereoscopic view of the 17th-century encounter between the VOC and the Tokugawa shogunate. Drawing on documents penned by both parties, the author illuminates the curious and counterintuitive ways in which the Dutch—whose attempts to use violence in Japanese waters were systematically blocked—ended up as formal subordinates of the Tokugawa. The result is a new picture of Asian-European relations and a valuable contribution to debates on early modern sovereignty, diplomacy, and empire.

Albert J. Beveridge Award

Elizabeth A. Fenn, University of Colorado Boulder
Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People (Hill & Wang, 2014)

Fenn achieves a feat once thought impossible: a longue durée history of the Mandan, whose horticultural civilization knit the American before warfare, epidemics, and environmental pressures thinned their numbers. She accomplishes this feat not only by exhausting the sparse archival sources, but also by tapping into insights from other disciplines and embracing a narrative strategy that makes the very evidentiary uncertainties she faced drive the narrative. A remarkable exercise in historical forensics, Encounters at the Heart of the World is also a model for writing early American history from the center of the continent outward.

Greg Grandin, New York University
The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World (Metropolitan Books, 2014)

Taking as its launching point the 1805 shipboard rebellion that inspired Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, Grandin’s book makes visceral the webs of unfreedom that ensnared the Americas in an age of revolution and liberal ideals. Merging gripping depictions of slave markets and seal islands, Andean crossings and ship decks, The Empire of Necessity knits hemispheric history into the larger tapestry of global history. As a meditation on the taut ties between dreams of liberty and capitalist entanglements, Grandin’s magnificently researched and multilayered book is a powerful cautionary tale for our own times.

James Henry Breasted Prize

Nicolas Tackett, University of California, Berkeley
The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy (Harvard University Asia Center, 2014)

Tackett’s strikingly original monograph explains the rapid disappearance of China’s bureaucratic aristocracy amid the Tang dynasty’s collapse in the late ninth century. Blending traditional analysis of texts such as poetry and tomb epitaphs with the novel methods and approaches of GIS mapping and social-network theory, Tackett composes a detailed, elegant sketch of an elite that long proved remarkably adaptable to the upheavals of the late Tang, even if it could not finally resist the destructive violence of rebellion.

Raymond J. Cunningham Prize

Michael D. Welker, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BA ’14
"Nothing without a Demand: Black Power and Student Activism on North Carolina College Campuses, 1967–1973,"Traces: The UNC-Chapel Hill Journal of History(Spring 2014)
Faculty adviser: James L. Leloudis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Richly documented, well organized, and clearly written, this essay examines postsecondary education in North Carolina amid social and political protests in the 1960s and ’70s. Welker explores how bureaucrats, institutions, individuals, and ideologies intersect, revealing the resilience of the university as an institution, the difficulties people face when they try to change those institutions, and the irony that an ideology rooted in noncompromise required compromise in order to effect change. Shedding new light on the workings of Black Power at various North Carolina campuses, Welker combines the voices of students, nonstudent activists, administrators, and politicians, and provides a thoughtful analysis of the role of African American studies at predominantly white institutions of higher learning.

John H. Dunning Prize

Kate Brown, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Kate Brown’s Plutopia, a riveting example of interpretive narrative and comparative history, tells its story of expectation, exploitation, and unintended consequences with verve and passion. In addition to engaging writing, the book demonstrates impressive transnational reach as it weaves together deep archival research in scientific and government records, in both English- and Russian-language sources, with the personal accounts of individuals caught up in the nuclear policies and atomic disasters of the Soviet Union and the United States. In doing so, it offers a seamless integration of the history of science, spatial history, environmental history, and social history.

John K. Fairbank Prize

Rian Thum, Loyola University New Orleans
The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History (Harvard University Press, 2014)

In this richly textured, rigorously argued, and theoretically provocative work, Rian Thum narrates with profound ethnographic sensitivity the complex histories of community formation and world making among the Turkic Muslims of Altishahr—now known as the Uyghur peoples of northwest China. The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History introduces a vital chapter in the histories of Central Asia, Islam, the Qing empire, and the Chinese nation-state. It spurs historians to reexamine deeply held notions surrounding early modern identity formation, print culture, nationalism, and the very meaning of writing history.

Morris D. Forkosch Prize

Gregory E. O’Malley, University of California, Santa Cruz
Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619–1807 (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2014)

Final Passages is a scholarly triumph, combining formidable research and shrewd analysis. O’Malley has painstakingly reconstructed the trans-shipment of vast numbers of Africans, for whom the Middle Passage was only the beginning of their sufferings before being “re-exported” around the Caribbean and North America. He portrays the victims of this human trafficking and the buyers, seamen, and traders who carried it out, while illuminating the complex economy of slavery between rival empires.

Leo Gershoy Award

John C. Rule, Ohio State University
Ben S. Trotter, Columbus State Community College
A World of Paper: Louis XIV, Colbert de Torcy, and the Rise of the Information State (McGill-Queens University Press, 2014)

The result of a massive amount of research in the French archives, this work traces the rise of Colbert de Torcy and his creation of a foreign office for Louis XIV. Torcy recognized that control over information flowing into Paris from Louis’s extensive diplomatic affairs was required for French policy to remain coherent. Reorganizing the foreign office and creating an archive to control the flow of information was crucial to his enterprise. The authors pay close attention to the personnel in the ministry and how the office worked on a daily basis and made policy. This is an important study of the creation of bureaucracy and information in the early modern era.

William and Edwyna Gilbert Award

Peter Burkholder, Fairleigh Dickinson University
"A Content Means to a Critical Thinking End: Group Quizzing in History Surveys," The History Teacher 47, no. 4 (August 2014): 551–78.

Teaching a survey course is both the gateway to historical study for many and the last exposure to history for many others, and its importance is often undervalued. Rather than treating the coverage of general content and the promotion of cognitive approaches in a survey class as mutually exclusive goals, Burkholder’s course-design methods make them mutually reinforcing and the resulting survey course especially enriching. His methods deserve recognition for their merit and contribution.

J. Franklin Jameson Award

Emily Levine, independent scholar
Witness: A Húnkpaphˇa Historian’s Strong-Heart Song of the Lakotas (University of Nebraska Press, 2013)

In this sensitively edited and translated volume, Emily Levine performs a work of recovery mirroring that of Lakota historian Josephine Waggoner (d. 1943). She distills a disciplined but wide-ranging gathering of historical materials for scholars that might otherwise have been lost forever. The list of archives consulted is impressive and the attention to Lakota expression and Waggoner’s intention extremely conscientious. Well illustrated and annotated, it is a major editorial achievement.

David Edward Luscombe, University of Sheffield
The Letter Collection of Peter Abelard and Heloise (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Done to the highest critical and scholarly standards, and paired with Betty Radice’s translation, David Luscombe’s volume of the correspondence between Abelard and Heloise brings together all the recent scholarship surrounding the letters to produce the best contemporary edition. The lengthy introduction explains fully the structure, style, and history of the surviving, lost, or only tentatively identified texts, while the extensive notes offer insights on the literary traditions that influenced the authors’ writings.

Friedrich Katz Prize

Ada Ferrer, New York University
Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Ada Ferrer has crafted a work of remarkable insight and methodological brilliance. Many commentators evoke Haiti's hemispheric significance as an impulse for liberation and conservative reentrenchment, but no one else so meticulously traces the interdependencies of freedom and enslavement, or incorporates diplomatic, military, and social history while providing extraordinarily imaginative textual analysis. Ferrer’s chapter on the Aponte rebellion is a tour de force, ingeniously unraveling the enigmatic strands that bound together Haiti, Cuba, and the African diaspora in the Age of Revolution.

Joan Kelly Memorial Prize

Susan S. Lanser, Brandeis University
The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, 1565–1830 (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

The Sexuality of History provides a new analysis of the phenomenon of women loving women contained in the publications of both male and female authors, arguing that “the Sapphic” underwrote early modern understandings of “the modern.” Lanser shows that rather than voicing individuals’ idiosyncratic desires, texts that invoked intimate connections among women enabled critiques of the patriarchal order and supported radical visions of both equality and the normative presence of women in the public sphere.

Martin A. Klein Prize

Frederick Cooper, New York University
Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945– 1960 (Princeton University Press, 2014)

Cooper’s book presents a radical new view of decolonization in French Africa. AsCitizenship between Empire and Nation reveals, independent nation-states resulted from a contingent process in which African and European actors sought to transform, but not dismantle, the connection between France and Africa. Through extensive archival research and masterful prose, Cooper captures the political imagination of African activists, the dynamism of ensuing policy debates, and the poignancy of outcomes that no one, at the start, actually wanted.

Littleton-Griswold Prize

Cornelia H. Dayton, University of Connecticut
Sharon V. Salinger, University of California, Irvine
Robert Love’s Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014)

In Robert Love’s Warnings, Dayton and Salinger painstakingly trace the practice of warning out—notifying strangers that the town would not support them if they became indigent—in colonial Boston. The book challenges the longstanding claim that warnings served as forms of exclusion, arguing instead that the system actually encouraged the circulation of people. Gracefully written and based in previously unexplored sources, the book imaginatively captures the texture of everyday life and its relationship to law and governance.

J. Russell Major Prize

Michael Kwass, Johns Hopkins University
Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global Underground (Harvard University Press, 2014)

Contraband tells the gripping tale of an 18th-century gentleman smuggler, framed in the context of emerging global capitalism and the Old Regime French state’s brutal attempts to stamp out underground markets. Deeply researched and engagingly written, this fine book challenges readers to think over the long term about how porous borders have conflicted with state efforts to regulate consumer demand—a situation that engenders violence and may delegitimize the regime itself.

Helen & Howard R. Marraro Prize

David I. Kertzer, Brown University
The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Random House, 2014)

Kertzer has produced a compelling narrative based on previously unavailable documents from the Vatican archive. He reveals, in new and surprising detail, both the inner workings of the Vatican and the on-again, off-again relationship between Pius XI and Mussolini. Sensitive to the difficult situation in which the pope found himself, Kertzer nonetheless documents in no uncertain terms the role played by the church hierarchy in the promotion of both Italian fascism and that regime’s racial legislation.

George L. Mosse Prize

Ekaterina Pravilova, Princeton University
A Public Empire: Property and the Quest for the Common Good in Imperial Russia (Princeton University Press, 2014)

This extraordinary, deeply researched study discovers the “public things” of imperial Russia through its 19th-century debates over property rights. Liberal politicians and professional experts sought to secure a “public empire” between private property and the state via rivers and forests, minerals and icons, literary manuscripts and historical monuments. A compelling, profoundly original work of scholarship, this book deepens our understanding of how a public domain developed in modern Europe.

John E. O’Connor Film Award

Dramatic Feature: 12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen, director; Brad Pitt, producer (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2013)

With this breakthrough production, the filmmakers and actors have adapted an important historical source, Solomon Northrup’s 1853 memoir of kidnapping and enslavement, into a gripping and painfully accurate drama. In step with the best historical scholarship, this film also challenges Hollywood’s long romance with the plantation.

Documentary: Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels
Tony Buba, director; Marcus Rediker, producer (University of Pittsburgh, 2014)

Ghosts of Amistad documents historian Marcus Rediker’s road trip through Sierra Leone, listening to the African side of slavery’s living past, to find traces of memory about the 1839 Amistad mutiny. Through innovative oral history methods and factual sleuthing, the filmmakers present a compelling portrait of historians at work in today’s world.

James A. Rawley Prize

Ada Ferrer, New York University
Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Using sources in English, French, and Spanish from over a dozen archives, Ferrer shows how revolution in the most profitable Caribbean slave society, Haiti, and the rise of Cuba as its successor, linked the two islands in complex ways. Above all, the author creatively traces the intellectual crosscurrents to reveal a radical imaginary of the Age of Revolution, which endowed ideas about freedom, sovereignty, citizenship, and nation with concrete and local meanings.

Gregory E. O’Malley, University of California, Santa Cruz
Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619–1807 (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2014).

This book brilliantly reconstructs two centuries of intra- and inter-colonial British slave trade by assembling a database culled from thousands of naval shipping lists, alongside mercantile and colonial correspondence and occasional slave testimony. Exceeding demographic history, O’Malley illuminates the lives of individual slaves and offers a fascinating study of how all Atlantic trade was systematically built upon the trade of human beings—an important, often overlooked insight on the historiography of capitalism and slavery.

John F. Richards Prize

Richard M. Eaton, University of Arizona
Phillip B. Wagoner, Wesleyan University
Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300–1600 (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Eaton and Wagoner analyze the built landscape of the Deccan plateau during a period of intense political conflict, showing how the meanings of that landscape were contested and mobilized by succeeding rulers who drew on both Sanskrit and Persianate cosmologies. Deploying an innovative, multidisciplinary methodology, and shaped as much by on-the-ground analysis of historical remains as by the study of Sanskrit, Persian, and Telugu texts, their book provides critical new insights into the history of this era.

Dorothy Rosenberg Prize

Libby Garland, Kingsborough Community College
After They Closed the Gates: Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921– 1965 (University of Chicago Press, 2014).

While it has been assumed that mass Jewish immigration to America ended with the quota law of 1924, Garland reveals how Jews circumvented its restrictions both upon leaving Europe and upon entering the United States. She also insightfully captures the struggle of Jewish leaders to reconcile their support for the immigrants with their reluctance to break the law. Garland brilliantly uses Jewish history to provide excellent historical context for understanding contemporary debates about illegal immigration, thus making an outstanding contribution to both American history and the history of the Jewish diaspora.

Roy Rosenzweig Prize

The First Days Project, South Asian American Digital Archive

The First Days Project is a platform for immigrants to create histories through brief video, audio, and textual accounts about their first day in the United States. The site not only engages communities beyond traditional academic boundaries, it establishes an archive that is ongoing, interactive, and accessible. Its clean, effective design reflects the value of creating a user-friendly website that has multi-faceted uses inside and outside the classroom. The First Days Project resonates with Roy Rosenzweig’s commitment to using digital technology to democratize the past.

Wesley-Logan Prize

Ada Ferrer, New York University
Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Freedom’s Mirror is an elegant, detailed, and convincing treatment of the paradoxes characterizing the Age of Revolution in the early modern Caribbean. At the moment Saint-Domingue became Haiti—a symbol of freedom and sovereignty in the Atlantic—its eastern neighbor Cuba became increasingly entrenched in sugar, slavery, and imperial authority. Moving beyond comparative history by exploring transnational connections, interdependencies, and geopolitical crises, this book is a welcome addition to the historiography of slavery in the Americas.

2015 Awards for Scholarly and Professional Distinction

Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award

Kimberley Mangun, University of Utah

We commend Dr. Mangun for her innovative techniques, especially in teaching history within the parameters of mass communication, to both graduates and undergraduates. We are also impressed with her commitment to the promotion of local history and to the awareness of the roles of minorities within that history. Her ability to be a highly productive scholar and to be actively engaged in her community simply adds to a record of overall general excellence.

Beveridge Family Teaching Award

Kevin A. Wagner,Carlisle Area School District, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

We commend Mr. Wagner for his combination of web technology, historical thinking, and community service in his “Normandy project,” in which students apply research techniques to digital and community resources to create and post memorial biographical websites for fallen soldiers who might otherwise remain only names. His additional work in extracurricular activities such as National History Day, Model UN, and local history projects confirms him as a role model for the profession.

Equity Awards

Individual Award: Víctor Macías-González, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse

The Committee on Minority Historians is very pleased to confer the 2015 Equity Award on Víctor Macías-González, associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. As numerous letters from colleagues and former students make clear, Macías-González has been tireless in his efforts to mentor underrepresented students and open the historical profession, and academia in general, to peoples of all backgrounds. A prominent scholar of Latino/a history, his many achievements include directing the Institute for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, and creating the Eagle Mentoring Program.

Institutional Award: Jacqueline Looney, senior associate dean for graduate programs and associate vice provost for academic diversity, on behalf of Duke University Graduate School

Over the past 25 years, primarily under the leadership of Jacqueline Looney, Duke University Graduate School has succeeded in recruiting and retaining students from historically underrepresented minority groups, more than tripling the percentage of enrolled graduate students of color. In the history department, this has resulted in more than 23 black PhD recipients since 1998, most of them now tenured at colleges and universities across the globe.

Herbert Feis Award

Pamela M. Henson, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Pamela M. Henson, director of the Institu-tional History Division of the Smithsonian Institu-tion Archives, has helped to steward and grow the country’s national col-lections for decades, enriching the fabric of public history while doing so. In her career, she has curated over a dozen exhibits, advised Smithsonian secretaries and regents, mentored the careers of countless scholars, and made major contributions of her own to the history of science. The Smithsonian Archives are a national treasure, their value made manifest through Henson’s work.

Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award

Brian Balogh, University of Virginia

Brian Balogh has proved to be a truly exemplary mentor, deeply committed to pro-viding immediate critical feedback to his students and other junior scholars, helping them navigate the shoals of being both academic historians and public advocates, working to create a rich and supportive network of new political his-torians, and creating the fellowship program at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, which specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history.

Honorary Foreign Member

Natsuki Aruga, Saitama University, Japan

Professor Natsuki Aruga has been a leading scholar of US and women’s history in Japan for more than three decades. After 30 years as a professor at Saitama Univer-sity, Aruga became a visiting professor at Taisho Univer-sity in 1995.

The author and editor of 15 books, Professor Aruga was awarded the Yamakawa Kikue Prize as well as the Japan–United States Friendship Commission Book Award for Amerika Feminizumu no Shakaishi [A social history of American feminism] in 1989. Aruga is a versatile scholar; her focus has ranged from child labor in the 19th-cen-tury United States and the employment of teenagers during World War II to appraisals of the “new social history” and the direction of second-wave feminism.

Professor Aruga was president of the Japanese Association for American Studies from 2008 to 2010 and now serves as both the executive director of the American Studies Foundation of Japan and the international editor for the Organization of American Historians.

Awards for Scholarly Distinction

Ira Berlin, University of Maryland, College Park

Ira Berlin’s scholarship extends from the 15th to the 21st century, and his influ-ence on African American social history is as broad and deep as any living scholar’s. Berlin’s 1998 classic, Many Thousands Gone, both energized and reoriented fields of study. Rather than regard American slavery as a 19th-century “southern” phenomenon, Berlin swept across the continent and detailed the expansion of a system with its own economic, cultural, and political logic. The book remains a model study. Berlin’s influence crosses genre as readily as it crosses time and space. Under his direction, the Freedman and Southern Society Project mined the National Archives and identified more than two million documents for Freedom, a multi-volume work covering slavery’s destruction and the rise of free labor, with annotations and essays that qualify as major scholarly contributions in their own right. Berlin’s recent publications—Generations of Captivity and The Making of African America—reveal a tireless pursuit of meaning by an accessible writer with an immensely fertile mind.

Asuncion Lavrin, Arizona State University

Born 80 years ago in Havana, Cuba, Asuncion Lavrin completed her PhD in history in 1963 as a member of the first class of women admitted to Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her dissertation immediately stood out for its treatment of gender in colonial Mexico, and Lavrin has since become a benchmark figure in Latin American history and feminist historiography. Publishing in English and Spanish, Lavrin has transnational influence. Her first essay, published in the Hispanic American Historical Review in 1967, won the journal’s best article award. Her focus has ranged from masculinity and the priesthood to labor and the left in Chile and Argentina. Lavrin has served on eight editorial boards, and she has edited the Oxford Encyclopedia of Women’s History. Lavrin made her career at Howard University before spending well over a decade at Arizona State. She was a Guggenheim fellow in 2001 and was inducted into the Academia Mexicana de la Historia in 2011.

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