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In the June Issue of the American Historical Review

Alex Lichtenstein, May 2016

The June issue of the American Historical Review will include four full-length articles as well as a review essay on recent developments in the history of food. The issue will also contain seven featured reviews and our regular book review section. The journal will continue its new feature, Digital Primary Sources, designed to provide a useful tool for navigating the enormous universe of online collections of primary source materials.

The issue opens with an article by Erin Kathleen Rowe, “After Death, Her Face Turned White: Blackness, Whiteness, and Sanctity in the Early Modern Hispanic World.” Rowe shows that in the early modern Atlantic, devotion to black saints began to spread throughout the Catholic world. First envisioned as a means to convert newly baptized black slaves, cults of black saints proliferated throughout Iberia and the Americas. Rowe’s article examines how 17th- and 18th-century hagiographers developed the typology of the black saint in order to convince readers of their subjects’ holiness. Rowe shows that the hagiographers focused on black saints’ suffering resulting from prejudice based on skin color. They also began to push beyond the limiting binary of “black” and “white,” emphasizing instead candidez—the dazzling brightness of heaven—which reflected a soul’s merit rather than the color of one’s skin. The genesis of a typology of black sanctity, Rowe’s article argues, led not only to the rise in standing of particular holy people of color, but also to the development of complicated and unexpected discourses about color difference and salvation that resisted the racialized discourses of the late early-modern period.

Rowe’s article is followed by Melissa Macauley’s “Entangled States: The Translocal Repercussions of Rural Pacification in China, 1869–1873.” Using a multiscopic approach to the study of global history, Macauley shows how a military rural pacification campaign in southeastern China fostered state-building in both China and in the British colony of the Straits Settlements on the Malay Peninsula. Two 19th-century polities in the early stages of development—one provincial, one colonial—sought to subjugate the same set of freewheeling Chinese sojourners who had long operated beyond the ambit of governmental authority. In the process, Macauley argues, these emerging states converged as economic entities as a result of their shared historical experiences and global economic trajectories. In the maritime borderland between southern China and Southeast Asia, the circulation, consumption, and taxation of the most profitable commodity traded in the region—opium—further accelerated entangled state-building. Macauley’s article enables us to discern the human experience of global change and to determine how disparate local arenas are shaped by similar global processes. A historical event that occurred in two ostensibly separate geographical places in fact occurred in one social and economic sphere that long had been dominated by Chinese merchants and laborers. The social and economic dynamics of Chinese translocalism, Macauley concludes, distinguish the entangled history of the South China Sea from that of the early modern and modern Atlantic.

Yet another account of entangled translocalities is provided by Emily J. Levine, in “Baltimore Teaches, Göttingen Learns: Cooperation, Competition, and the Research University.” In the first decade of the 20th century, scholarly reformers around the world realized that universities could be harnessed to achieve national economic and cultural goals. Yet universities remained local institutions, nested in the cities that benefited from and contributed to their success. Focusing on scholarly reformers in Germany and America, including Daniel Coit Gilman, Nicholas Murray Butler, Felix Klein, and Karl Lamprecht, Levine shows how competition and cooperation developed among universities in both places. Managers of institutions of higher learning negotiated often conflicting local, national, and international goals. In contrast to the classic story of the history of the research university, Levine reveals that educational models were transported not only from Germany to America, but also, nearly a decade before World War I, in the reverse direction. In contrast to the recent “international” turn in educational history, she argues that placing the university in a transatlantic framework reminds us that the local remains a critical ingredient in histories of knowledge exchange and globalization. The transnational story of these scholarly reformers and their institutions suggests that the international “knowledge economy” has earlier roots than assumed, and that those roots are the basis of contemporary questions concerning the university’s role in the wider world.

The June issue’s final empirical article, Catherine E. Clark’s “Capturing the Moment, Picturing History: Photographs of the Liberation of Paris,” considers the visual history of an iconic moment in modern French history. In August 1944, as Allied troops approached the French capital, Parisians rose up and fought to liberate their own city. Despite Paris’s secondary status in military terms, its liberation became one of the founding myths of postwar France. This myth was marketed and took root across the nation in the weeks and months that followed the liberation, above all in photo-­illustrated books and pamphlets at an exhibition at the Musée Carnavalet, Paris’s history museum. Clark contends that the extensive visual documentation of the liberation presents a paradox: the sheer quantity of photographs proved its importance as a historical event at the same time that their circulation helped construct it. Looking closely at these pictures, Clark’s article explores how photographers forged links between those August days in 1944 and Paris’s much longer revolutionary history. By tracing the history of the photographs’ circulation and exhibition, Clark reveals an investment in photography as a unique means of accessing and transmitting the emotionally rich history of the recent past. At the same time, her article proposes a methodology for using photographs as primary sources that takes into account both their formal qualities and their history as material objects that circulate and act in the world.

The articles section closes with a historiographic essay by gastronomic historian Jeffrey M. Pilcher, “The Embodied Imagination in Recent Writings on Food History.” Recent research on food history, Pilcher suggests, challenges Cartesian mind-body dualism and reveals important connections between the material-sensory properties of foods and the mental-discursive meanings attached to them. The concept of “embodied imagination,” he argues, provides food scholars with a useful tool for analyzing gastronomic sensory perceptions and the ways that cultural meanings attached to taste, purity, and hunger shape the physical experience of these sensations. The brain’s multisensory interpretation of food—understood as flavor or physical taste—is filtered through the memory of past meals, thereby providing the mechanism for constructions of taste as social distinction. Pilcher’s survey of recent food scholarship shows that by developing an archive of taste and examining historical moments of changing food preferences, scholars have started to reveal the dynamic interrelations between social and sensory expressions of taste. Purity, another concept that is simultaneously embodied and imagined, has similarly begun to figure in present-day debates about the industrial transformations of food. Pilcher shows how engaging with these debates has allowed food historians to call attention to the socially constructed nature of purity and to emphasize the importance of women’s and migrants’ labor in food preparation. Historical research on food has also contributed to establishing a connection between the physical experience of hunger and the politics of food distribution. Food historians, Pilcher concludes, have captured a wide audience beyond the academy with this scholarship and helped assert the relevance of the humanities to society and policy.

Alex Lichtenstein is associate professor of history at Indiana University Bloomington and interim editor of the American Historical Review.


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