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Seth Garfield, Director GAR 1.104, Mailcode B7000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-3261

A Banner Year at The Institute for Historical Studies

Posted: July 19, 2012
Director Julie Hardwick with IHS Fellows and Visiting Research Associates, 2011-12. Photo by Emily Kinsolving Photography.

Director Julie Hardwick with IHS Fellows and Visiting Research Associates, 2011-12. Photo by Emily Kinsolving Photography.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, historians and scholars from diverse fields continued to meet regularly on the fourth floor of Garrison Hall for lunch and dialogue at the lively workshops sponsored by the Institute for Historical Studies.

The Institute provided an intellectual home to ten outstanding scholars whose projects centered on the theme “Power and Place,” sponsored the innovative “New Works in Progress” series for graduate student dissertation work, and produced a major conference, “Sexuality and Slavery: Exposing the History of Enslaved Peoples in the Americas.”

The five visiting research scholars who joined the IHS for the year generated first-rate articles, conference papers, and book manuscripts, but they also participated in the broader UT intellectual community and carried their work to conferences around the world and to the public at large. 

Dr. Linda Darling, University of Arizona, worked on a project about state formation in the early Ottoman empire. Dr. Robyn Metcalfe, postdoctoral fellow, saw her first book on meat distribution in Victorian London through to publication. Metcalfe also became faculty sponsor for a UT student organization, ‘The Food Studies Project’ that aims to help undergraduates examine food as an interdisciplinary intellectual project as well as a human necessity and sensory pleasure. UT’s libraries provided compelling resources for the visiting scholars. Dr. Barbara Krauthamer of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found the collections at the Perry-Castañeda Library crucial to her ongoing work on the history of runaway slave women in the antebellum U.S. 

In the Nettie Lee Benson Latin America Collection, Dr. Tanalís Padilla, Dartmouth College, found memoirs written by former rural schoolteachers and published only locally in Mexico. She praised the Benson when she said, “This library is every Latin Americanist's dream.” Dr. Brian Cowan of McGill University called the Daniel Defoe collections he consulted at the Harry Ransom Center "unrivaled anywhere in the world save the British Library, which does not permit readers to consult their copies as originals." The visitors participated in many parts of campus life, offering workshops, public lectures, and mentoring graduate students as well as pursuing their own research.

Five UT faculty received IHS research assignments to advance their work on a wide range of important and fascinating projects. Neil Foley’s project highlights the multiple roles of Mexican-Americans in all parts of American History. Virginia Garrard-Burnett explores manifestations and expressions of spiritual belief in the material world of Latin America in the twentieth century. Matthew Butler’s work analyzes the ongoing and multi-facted importance of Catholicism in rural Mexico during the Christero War in post-revolutionary Mexico. Cynthia Talbot explores the long process by which a twelfth-century Indian warrior, Prithviraj Cauhun, became a hero of modern Hindu nationalism.  Penne Restad examines mid-twentieth-century advertising to explain the role of the consumer in modern American history.

The IHS offered many opportunities for graduate students as always, and initiated an important new site for graduate student work with the “New Works in Progress” series pioneered by graduate student and former IHS research assistant, Cameron Strang.  “New Works” gave advanced graduate students from UT and other institutions the opportunity to present their work for comments and suggestions. Graduate student Julia Gossard said the “workshops sponsored by the Institute for Historical Studies not only provided me an opportunity to collaborate with prominent scholars but also gave me a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how different scholars organize and develop their projects.” Dr. Tanalís Padilla mentored several UT graduate students, and Dr. Brian Cowan hosted a presentation for students on how to publish an academic journal article. Graduate student Valerie Martinez noted “this year’s IHS theme helped all to understand the symbiotic relationship between place and power. Each IHS fellow, and the “Sexuality and Slavery” conference in particular, brought unique theoretical, conceptual, and methodological approaches that highlighted the transformative effects of power and place in various historical moments.”

This year’s IHS conference, “Sexuality and Slavery,” led by UT History Professor Daina Ramey Berry and Professor Leslie M. Harris of Emory University, provided cutting edge scholarship and broad community involvement. Large audiences of scholars, UT students, high school pupils and Austinites at each session listened to pathbreaking work by leading national and international scholars.  Paige Hall, an Austin high schooler, observed, "It’s made me realize that there was no uniform experience of slavery that either men or women had. They were individuals and they had independent struggles that they had to be overcome as they formed their own place in society.”


The IHS enjoyed national recognition when two former Fellows of the Institute for Historical Studies were honored this year with book awards by the American Historical Association. Dr. Frank Guridy's Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010), and Dr. James H. Sweet’s Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011) respectively received the Wesley-Logan Prize for 2011 for the best book of the year on the history of African peoples and the James A. Rawley Prize for outstanding book of the year in Atlantic History.

‘Rethinking Diplomacy” will be the new IHS theme for 2012-13.  The primary goal of this year-long project is to re-think scholarly approaches to diplomacy as a worldwide, multi-disciplinary historical process and vital contemporary practice. UT faculty, IHS visiting fellows, and scholars from many departments and practitioners of international diplomacy will bring their own innovative and original research to work together on the project.  The IHS and the LBJ School for Public Policy will lead the campus-wide initiative. “Rethinking Diplomacy” will not only contribute to a re-conceptualization of the history of diplomacy, but explore new ways to configure international relations in a global community.

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