Assistant Professor of History Tehila Sasson recently contributed to a roundtable for the journal Past & Present on the expanding field of research about the history of humanitarianism. Sasson, a specialist in Britain in the World, is currently completing her first monograph, provisionally titled We Are the World: Humanitarian Ethics, Global Markets and the End of Empire. Read an excerpt from her contribution to the roundtable below along with the full discussion here: “History and Humanitarianism: A Conversation.”
“I came as a sceptic to this field. In the political landscape where I grew up in Israel, human rights and humanitarianism have often been used as empty rhetoric to justify forms of intervention and governance rather than to offer any real political alternative to minorities and refugees. My first encounter with the works of Hannah Arendt, Didier Fassin and Jacques Rancière during my undergraduate studies in 2003 was formative to the way I came to perceive the field politically as well as intellectually. Human rights and humanitarianism, I learned from them, offered a thin political framework, indeed too thin, that was stripped of any robust notion of obligation, responsibility and rights. A class I took with Wendy Brown and Saba Mahmood later in graduate school taught me that not only rights discourse but also moral technologies carry with them an entire array of contradictions connected to empire, religion and the economy.”
History Department Chair and Jimmy Carter Professor of History Joseph Crespino discussed his most recent book, Atticus Finch: The Biography (Basic Books, 2018), with Brandon Tensley of Pacific Standard. In “How Reconsidering Atticus Finch Makes us Reconsider America,” Crespino talks about the enduring relevance of this fictional character in American society and politics. Read an excerpt below along with the full article here.
“Lee wrote her two novels in the midst of the massive resistance era. These were the days of Southern politics when you saw the rise of a right-wing, militant segregationist movement, when you had politicians who only a few years earlier had been dismissed as cranks, as nobodies, as jokes being elected to office—look at Ross Barnett in Mississippi or Lester Maddox in Georgia. That’s the period Lee was writing in. And she was trying to make sense of the fact that what she admired as the principled conservatism of her father was being overrun by—but also, crucially, was not standing up to—right-wing reactionaries across many states in the South.”
Dr. Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History and Director of the Halle Institute for Global Research and Learning, discussed the increasing influence of evangelicals in Brazilian society and politics for Bloomberg. The article was released three days before the first round of Brazil’s 2018 elections. The October 7 elections included the near-victory of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate with substantial evangelical support. Read the full piece, written by R.T. Watson, David Biller, and Samy Adghirni, here: “From Jails to Congress, Brazil’s Evangelicals Could Swing Election.”
Dr. Carol Anderson’s newly-released book, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy, was named to the National Book Award longlist. Published by Bloomsbury and released on September 11, 2018, One Person, No Vote charts continuities in practices of voter suppression from the nineteenth century through the present. Read more about Anderson’s work and Emory’s representation on the National Book Award longlist in the Emory News Center’s article “Emory professors named to 2018 National Book Awards longlists.”
Dr. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies, has just published a new book, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy (Bloomsbury Publishing 2018). Anderson is Associated Faculty in the Department of History. The Emory News Center profiled Anderson’s new work in a video and article by Kimber Williams: “New book explores history of voter suppression in America.” Anderson is also the author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, which received the 2016 National Book Critics Award in Criticism.
Congratulations to Jason Ward, acting professor of History, who recently authored a piece for Southern Spaces. The article reviews Melanie S. Morrison’s Murder on Shades Mountain: The Legal Lynching of Willie Peterson and the Struggle for Justice in Jim Crow Birmingham (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018). Read Ward’s article here: “Shades of Violence: Jim Crow Justice and Black-Resistance in the Depression-Era South.”
Professor of South Asian Studies Ruby Lal recently published Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan with W.W. Norton. Lal is Associated Faculty in the History Department. The biography charts the ascendance of the empress in 17th Century India and her unprecedented rule over the vast Mughal empire. Read a more detailed description of the book below along with Lal’s recent article about it on the BBC, “The Mughal queen who became a feminist icon.”
Four centuries ago, a Muslim woman ruled an empire.
When it came to hunting, she was a master shot. As a dress designer, few could compare. An ingenious architect, she innovated the use of marble in her parents’ mausoleum on the banks of the Yamuna River that inspired her stepson’s Taj Mahal. And she was both celebrated and reviled for her political acumen and diplomatic skill, which rivaled those of her female counterparts in Europe and beyond.
In 1611, thirty-four-year-old Nur Jahan, daughter of a Persian noble and widow of a subversive official, became the twentieth and most cherished wife of the Emperor Jahangir. While other wives were secluded behind walls, Nur ruled the vast Mughal Empire alongside her husband, and governed in his stead as his health failed and his attentions wandered from matters of state. An astute politician and devoted partner, Nur led troops into battle to free Jahangir when he was imprisoned by one of his own officers. She signed and issued imperial orders, and coins of the realm bore her name.
Acclaimed historian Ruby Lal uncovers the rich life and world of Nur Jahan, rescuing this dazzling figure from patriarchal and Orientalist clichés of romance and intrigue, and giving new insight into the lives of women and girls in the Mughal Empire, even where scholars claim there are no sources. Nur’s confident assertion of authority and talent is revelatory. In Empress, she finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens us to a fascinating history.