Sherry L. Smith, “Reconciliation and Restitution in the American West,” Western Historical Quarterly, 41 (Spring 2010): 4-25.
In her thought-provoking and compelling article, Sherry L. Smith invites readers to consider how groups and nations can acknowledge monumental historical injustices and what role history and historians play. Focusing on the Native peoples of the American West, Smith asks whether reconciliation or restitution can begin to address the human rights abuses to which American Indians have been subjected. She offers no easy answers, but in a wide-ranging analysis of examples from across the globe and case studies from the history of the U.S. West, Smith outlines a variety of possible approaches and demonstrates that, on occasion and however imperfectly, people of good will have found ways to redress historical wrongs. Moreover, history has been a crucial element in the effort, as victims of human rights violations challenged existing narratives of the national story, and as historians validated those challenges. We applaud Sherry Smith for an article that tackles a big and important historical topic from a transnational perspective, with precisely rendered examples and thoughtful insights at every turn, all of it presented in appealing prose.
Christina Snyder, Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America (Harvard University Press, 2010)
In a very impressive pool of first books, Christina Snyder’s Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America stands out for its bold argument, elegant prose, and subtle analysis. Snyder’s work completely overturns assumptions about slavery in the American South. The genesis of that region’s plantation slavery was not African slavery but rather that of native Americans. For hundreds of years, including the entire colonial era, Indian slavery in the south was based on ideas of kin rather than race. Even as racial slavery became increasingly common among white southerners, Indians’ notions of slavery remained relatively fluid. Only in the wake of large-scale political and economic crises at the turn of the nineteenth century did southern Indians begin to embrace the notion of racial slavery. This is a big book that convincingly explains an enormous shift in captivity and slavery. Yet even for non-specialists, this book has a lot to offer. Snyder is an excellent guide through the shifting intersections of captivity and race that mark southern slavery. She sensitively brings the reader into the cultural logic of southern Indian slavery. Finally, Slavery in Indian Country is beautifully written, especially in the multiple passages in which she impressively invokes both the richness and the horror of ritual.
Honorable Mention: Jennifer Guglielmo, Living the Revolution: Italian Women’s Resistance and Radicalism in New York City, 1880-1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010)
Jennifer Guglielmo’s book Living the Revolution: Italian Women’s Resistance and Radicalism in New York City, 1880-1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) is an accomplished contribution to immigration, political, and gender history. Based on impressive research in both English and Italian sources, _Living the Revolution_ focuses on an under-studied group of women who shaped the political landscape not only of New York or of Italian-Americans from 1880-1954 but also of the politics of dissent all over the United States during that period. Guglielmo sensitively connects what we might today call “kitchen table politics” to street and organizational activism, usefully blurring the dividing line between public and private. The book is comprehensive in its coverage of the shifting racial identities of Italian immigrants in America; the participation of Italian women in transnational forms of anarchism and other radical politics; the cooperation with other women in the labor movement and industrial feminism; and the complicated reactions of Italian women to fascism. Over the generations that Guglielmo analyzes, Italian women both worked with men and through their own separate organizations in ways that reveal a great deal about gender and activism within the context of community organizing. The book does not shy away from confronting the ways in which the gradual recognition of their whiteness eventually led significant numbers of Italian-American women to protect their accrued white privilege through hostility toward racial others, especially African-Americans. The book is well-written, achieves a balanced focus on individuals, groups, and larger communities, and takes into account the large historiography on American women’s activism during the last decades of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century.
Hannah Rosen, Terror in the Heart of Freedom: Citizenship, Sexual Violence, and the Meaning of Race in the Postemancipation South (University of North Carolina Press, 2009)
Weijing Lu, True to Her Word: The Faithful Maiden Cult in Late Imperial China (Stanford University Press, 2008).
Susanne Freidberg, “The Triumph of the Egg,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 50, no. 2 (2008).
What is a “fresh” egg and how did Americans’ imaginings of what constituted a “naturally” fresh egg change over the the twentieth century? Reminding us that eggs were once a seasonal crop available primarily in the spring from local family farmers, Susanne Freidberg historicizes the concept of freshness through a focus on changes in the production and marketing of eggs. From early twentieth-century cold storage techniques which allowed eggs to be sold as “fresh” months after they were laid to New Deal era electrification projects which modernized hen houses, altering the birds’ life cycles, Freidberg traces the efforts of producers and marketers to have a year round supply of eggs, and of consumers to ensure fair prices and healthier standards. Engineering “seasonless freshness,” Freidberg argues, increasingly came to depend not so much on manipulating the egg after it left the hen house and more on manipulating the hens who produced them. Tracing the technological changes that eventually made hens “full-time, year-round workers” and egg production big business, pushing out many small farmers, Freidberg deftly pulls together histories of food production, food commerce, food consumption, civic activism, and regulatory change. Freidberg tells a story of the chicken and the egg which entwines what is happening in hen houses and in family kitchens with developments in research labs, warehouses and retail markets, and legislative chambers. The result is both a history of scientific changes and a fine social and cultural analysis which encourages us to wonder about our own conceptions of freshness in the contemporary global food market and provides a model of history study both methodologically sophisticated and marvelously engaging.
Juliana Barr, Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2007)
Peace Came in the Form of a Woman is a beautifully written and scrupulously researched study of the gendered nature of interactions between indigenous groups and Spaniards in the Texas region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Barr argues that those interactions were shaped by native kinship patterns more than by European racial categories, and were governed by the gender ideals of each. Our committee especially appreciated Barr’s ability to depict indigenous perspectives on their encounter with the Spanish in their own right, and without anticipating the formation and arrival of the United States. Andrea Friedman, “The Strange Career of Annie Lee Moss: Rethinking Race, Gender, and McCarthyism,” Journal of American History 94 (2007), 445-68. Andrea Friedman’s compelling article about an African-American army clerk and widowed single mother, who faced the loss of her job when called to testify in 1954 before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Permanent Sub-committee on Investigations, artfully connects one woman’s life to the complex political and ideological forces at play in American politics in the years after World War II. In lucid prose, and deftly deploying a multi-leveled analysis of gender, race and class iconography and politics, Friedman illuminates how limited were the possibilities for imagining the citizenship of African American women during the Cold War era.
Sandra Bardsley, Venomous Tongues: Speech and Gender in Late Medieval England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006)
Maureen Fitzgerald, Habits of Compassion: Irish Catholic Nuns and the Origins of New York’s Welfare System, 1830-1920 (University of Illinois Press, 2006)
Adrienne Edgar, “Bolshevism, Patriarchy and the Nation: The Soviet ‘Emancipation’ of Muslim Women in Pan-Islamic Perspective,” Slavic Review 65, no. 2 Summer 2006
Srirupa Roy, ‘A Symbol of Freedom: The Indian Flag and the Transformations of Nationalism, 1906-2002,” The Journal of Asian Studies 65. no. 3 (August 2006) 2005
Lisa Forman Cody, Birthing the Nation: Sex, Science, and the Conception of the Eighteenth Century Britons (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Wang Zheng, “‘State Feminism’? Gender and Socialist State Formation in Maoist China,” Feminist Studies, vol 31, no 3 (Fall 2005): 519-551. 2004
Mae M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton University Press, 2004)
Ruth Rogaski, Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China (University of California Press, 2004)
Toby L. Ditz, “The New Men’s History and the Peculiar Absence of Gendered Power: Some Remedies from Early American Gender History,” Gender & History 16:1(2004): 1-35
Sally McKee, “Inherited Status and Slavery in Late Medieval Italy and Venetian Crete,” Past & Present 182 (2004): 31-53. 2003
Nancy Appelbaum, Muddied Waters: Race, Region, and Local History in Colombia, 1846-1948 (Duke University Press, 2003)
Martha Hodes, “The Mercurial Nature and Abiding Power of Race: A Transnational Family Story,” American Historical Review 108:1 (February 2003): 84-118. 2002
Patricia M. Pelley, Postcolonial Vietnam: New Histories of the National Past (Duke University Press, 2003)
Samantha Power, A Problem of Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (Basic Books, 2002)
Premilla Nadasen, “Expanding the Boundaries of the Women’s Movement: Black Feminism and the Struggle for Welfare Rights,” Feminist Studies 28:2 (2002): 271-301.
Clare Haru Crowston, Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675-1791 (Duke University Press, 2001)
Sharon Marcus, “Haussmannization as Anti-Modernity: The Apartment House in Parisian Urban Discourse, 1850-1880,” Journal of Urban History 27:6 (2001) 2000
Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, Gendered Compromises: Political Cultures and the State in Chile, 1920-1950 (University of North Carolina Press, 2000)
Elizabeth Thompson, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (Columbia University Press, 2000)
Nancy Caciola, “Mystics, Demoniacs, and the Physiology of Spirit Possession in Medieval Europe” Comparative Studies in Society and History
Heidi Tinsman, (Honorable mention) “Reviving Feminist Materialism: Gender and Neoliberalism in Pinochet’s Chile” Signs. 1999
Ada Ferrer, Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation and Revolution 1868-1898 (University of North Carolina Press, 1999)
Lisa A. Lindsay, “Domesticity and Difference: Male Breadwinners, Working Women, and Colonial Citizenship in the 1945 Nigerian General Strike,” American Historical Review 104:3 (1999)
Alexandra Minna Stern, “Buildings, Boundaries and Blood: Medicalization and Nation Building on the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1910-1930,” Hispanic American Historical Review 79:1 (1999)
Jill Lepore, Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (Knopf/Random House, 1998)
Julia A. Thomas, “Photography, National Identity, and the ‘Cataract of Times’: Wartime Images and the Case of Japan,” The American Historical Review (December 1998).
Alice Conklin, A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895-1930 (Stanford University Press, 1997)
Dorothy Ko, “The Body as Attire: The Shifting Meanings of Footbinding in Seventeenth Century China,” The Journal of Women’s History (Winter 1997).
Isabel V. Hull, Sexuality, State, and Civil Society in Germany, 1700-1815 (Cornell University Press, 1996)
Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race and Power in Colonial Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
[honorable mention] Antoinette Burton, “A ‘Pilgrim Reformer’ in the Heart of the Empire: Behrami Malabari in Late-Victorian London,” Gender and History (August 1996) Peggy Pascoe, “Miscegenation Law, Court Cases, and Ideologies of ‘Race’ in Twentieth-Century America,” Journal of American History (June 1996)
Kathryn Kish Sklar, Florence Kelley and the Nation’s Work: The Rise of Women’s Political Culture, 1830-1900 (Yale University Press, 1995)
Susan Mosher Stuard, “Ancillary Evidence for the Decline of Medieval Slavery,” Past and Present (November 1995)
Linda Gordon, Pitied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare (Free Press, 1994)
Hitomi Tonomura, “Black Hair and Red Trousers: Gendering the Flesh in Medieval Japan,” American Historical Review (February 1994).
Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn, Black Neighbors: Race and the Limits of Reform in the American Settlement House Movement, 1890-1945 (University North Carolina, 1993)
Wendy Z. Goldman, Women, the State, and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936
Norma Basch, “Marriage, Morals and Politics in the Election of 1828,” Journal of American History (December 1993).
Phyllis Mack, Visionary Women: Ecstatic Prophecy in 17th Century England (University of California, 1992)
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race,” Signs (Winter 1992).
Marilyn B. Young, The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990 (1991)
Nancy Leys Stepan, “The Hour of Eugenics”: Race, Gender and Nation in Latin America (1991)
Patricia J. Hilden, “The Rhetoric and Iconography of Reform: Women Coal Miners in Belgium, 1840-1914,” The Historical Journal (March 1990).
Jo Burr Margadent, Madame le Professeur: Women Educators in the Third Republic (1990)
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, The Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Diary, 1785-1812
Drew Gilpin Faust, “Altars of Sacrifice: Confederate Women and Narratives of War,” Journal of American History (March 1990)
Nancy Rose Hunt, “Domesticity and Colonialism in Belgian Africa: Usumbura’s Foyer Social, 1946-1960,” Signs (Spring 1990)