Daniel B. Domingues da Silva (PhD ’11), Molly McCullers (PhD, ’13), and Sean Andrew Wempe (PhD, ’15) Contribute to December Issue of ‘The American Historical Review’

Emory University PhD alumni are well represented in the December issue of The American Historical Review (AHR). Two alumni contribute to the reflections on “One Hundred Years of Mandates.” Molly McCullers (PhD, ’13) addresses the mandate system in South Africa in her article, “Betwixt and Between Colony and Nation-State: Liminality, Decolonization, and the South West Africa Mandate.” Sean Andrew Wempe (PhD, ’15) points out in which ways the mandate system preserved empires through his article, “A League to Preserve Empires: Understanding the Mandates System and Avenues for Further Scholarly Inquiry.” In the Museum Review section, Daniel B. Domingues da Silva (PhD, ’11) authored a piece on the “Museu do Aljube Resistência e Liberdade, Lisbon, Portugal.”

Harvard UP Publishes Sharon T. Strocchia’s ‘Forgotten Healers’

forgotten-healers

In December of 2019 Harvard University Press released Professor Sharon T. Strocchia‘s newest book, Forgotten Healers: Women and the Pursuit of Health in Late Renaissance Italy.  The monograph recovers the pivotal roles that women played in providing health care in Renaissance Italy and, in doing so, uncovers their role in the transformation of early modern medicine and medical science. Sheila Barker, director at the Medici Archive Project, writes that Strocchia’s work “makes a vital contribution to the history of medicine, gender studies, and Renaissance studies.” Strocchia’s previous monographs were Death and Ritual in Renaissance Florence (Johns Hopkins UP, 1992) and Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence (Johns Hopkins UP, 2009), which was awarded the 2010 Marraro Prize by the American Catholic Historical Association. Read more about Forgotten Healers on the site for Harvard UP.

Emory News Center Features ‘Archival Lives’ Conference

FirstPosterDraft

The Emory News Center featured a profile of the Archival Lives conference from December 5-7, 2019. Co-convened by Adriana Chira (History), Clifton Crais (African Studies/History), and Walter C. Rucker (African American Studies/History), the workshop brought together an array of participants “to reckon with what it means to work with and produce archives of the African diaspora.” Read April Hunt’s feature story on the Emory News Website, “‘Archival Lives’ conference examines trans-Atlantic slave trade,” in addition to the full description of the conference at “Archival Lives.”

Emory News Center Features Eckert’s ‘West Germany and the Iron Curtain’ in Advance of Talk with Crespino

The Emory New Center recently published a feature about Dr. Astrid M. Eckert‘s new book, West Germany and the Iron Curtain: Environment, Economy, and Culture in the Borderlands (Oxford UP). The article presents some of Eckert’s central findings, which she will discuss in more depth with History Department Chair Joseph Crespino on Thursday, November 14. Find out more information about the event, hosted at 5pm in the Jones Room, 311 of the Robert W. Woodruff Library, here. Read the full Emory News Center article (written by April Hunt): “Iron Curtain’s consequences still evident for former West Germany.” Also learn more about the project by checking out our recent Q&A with Eckert: “New Books Series: Q & A with Astrid M. Eckert about ‘West Germany and the Iron Curtain’.” 

New Books Series: Q & A with Astrid M. Eckert about ‘West Germany and the Iron Curtain’

Astrid M. Eckert, Associate Professor of History, published West Germany and the Iron Curtain: Environment, Economy, and Culture in the Borderlands with Oxford University Press in October 2019. Frank Biess (University of California, San Diego) offers the following review of the work: “This brilliant book is a timely reminder of how borders and walls remake the human and natural environments they seek to divide. Deeply researched and deftly written, West Germany and the Iron Curtain is a major accomplishment that is certain to have a lasting impact on the field.”

Below, Dr. Eckert offers a glimpse into the making of the monograph as a part of the History Department’s series on new faculty publications.

Books are produced over years if not decades. Give us a sense of the lifespan of this book, from initial idea to final edits.

This book took me eleven years. Of course that does not mean that I engaged with the project every waking hour over those years. There were times of intense immersion during the summers and during occasional leave time; and then there were times when my attention was needed elsewhere and the book project moved to the back burner for a while. What I try to convey to our students is that you really need to be passionate about your dissertation and book project. Given the time such projects take, without a deep commitment and this passion, you would run out of steam. You also need to pace yourself and break down the project into manageable portions. Finally, it helps to remember that everything always takes longer than you think! The production process holds many surprises, from copyright issues for images to staff changes at the publisher’s offices.

What was the research process like?

I visited nineteen archives with records of state and non-state actors. I interviewed a number of people, mostly nature conservationists, and corresponded with a few former East German border guards. At times, I identified relevant interlocutors in the archives or in dated literature from, say, the 1970s and ’80s. In one case, I read an article from 1981 on the re-discovery of the black stork (ciconia nigra) in a certain area of Thuringia (East Germany). Although the piece was very vague on location, I figured out that it must have been close to the Iron Curtain. I contacted the author, and lo and behold, I uncovered the story of how this East German conservationist was called by GDR border guards who had observed a “strange black bird with red feet” in the border area. This might not rock everyone’s boat, but if you are trying to piece together how, exactly, the “hardware” of the Iron Curtain that was placed into the landscape affected wildlife, you live for nuggets like this. In terms of reading, I extended my reach into fields like conservation biology, ornithology, and river ecology. I also read up on nuclear technology for the chapter on a nuclear waste reprocessing and storage facility that the West Germans intended to build right on the Iron Curtain. This obviously does not turn me into a nuclear engineer, but I felt strongly that you need to know the difference between a light-water reactor and a fast breeder, otherwise you can’t explain what’s at stake.

Are you partial to a particular chapter or section?

I love them all because each offers a new perspective on a subject in Cold War German history that many people would have considered to be “settled.” The chapter on tourism to the Iron Curtain has autobiographical roots of sorts. As a high school student, I myself took our French exchange students to the border although I no longer remember why we did this or what they thought about it; presumably it was one of the few things we could do in our rural region that might impress teenagers from Paris. I also like the chapter on transboundary pollution between East and West Germany. Not only is this a staple subject in environmental history and borderland studies, it also allowed me to develop a genuinely new perspective on inter-German relations. Environmental diplomacy has thus far been overlooked in those relations. I point out that the inter-German border was the interface through which West and East Germany encountered each other’s pollution, an encounter that was becoming very asymmetrical over time: during the 1980s the GDR’s infrastructure was in full decline and its decaying industry was literally “bleeding” pollution. West German authorities monitored and engaged East German pollution. I argue that through the evidence of this pollution (the water quality of the Elbe River was so poor that a new classification category had to be invented to describe its pollution level), they were practically handed the evidence of the GDR’s dissolution on a platter but failed to get the message. Still, the negotiations with the GDR over pollution that I address in the chapter generated the knowledge about the causes of East German environmental problems. Only if we take these encounters seriously (although some of them may have looked ineffectual at the time) can we understand the rapid pace of the post-unification ecological restoration in East Germany. To be sure, much of the pollution abatement after 1990 was achieved by switching off the polluter—factories were closed, mines were shut down etc., but I still credit the environmental diplomacy of the 1980s with producing a clear understanding of the challenges and occasionally with generating accurate templates to fix them. Such insight is only possible, of course, if one does not stop analyzing data in 1990 when both countries re-unified. In fact, I found it very illuminating and satisfactory to draw the subject matter of all my chapters well into the post-unification years and at times right into the present.

How does this project align with your broad research agenda?

With its strong focus on environmental history, work on this book has acquainted me with several aspects of this field, namely the history of nature conservation, the history of pollution and environmentalism, and nuclear history. I intend to continue to work in this field with a new project that examines the ways in which one leading industrialized western economy with a high standard of living has related to global environmental resources over time. This new project will probe Germany’s reputation as a “green leader” and presumably show that the paths towards climate-conscious and sustainable practices that it took were serendipitous, contingent, and involved dead ends and unintended consequences.

‘Archival Lives’ Conference Brings Leading Scholars of the African Diaspora and Slavery to Emory

In early December 2019 leading scholars of the African diaspora and slavery will gather at Emory University for a conference entitled “Archival Lives.” The conference is organized by Adriana Chira (Assistant Professor, History), Clifton Crais (Professor, History and Director, African Studies), and Walter C. Rucker (Professor, History and African American Studies). The History Department is a co-sponsor of the conference, which will feature multiple current and emeritus faculty along with PhD program alumni. Read more about the event on the website for Emory’s Institute for African Studies: “Archival Lives Conference.”

WABE’s ‘Closer Look’ Features Dr. Carl Suddler

 Dr. Carl Suddler is the author of the new book "Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York"

Assistant Professor Carl Suddler was recently interviewed by Rose Scott, host of the WABE (one of Atlanta’s NPR affiliates) show “Closer Look.” Suddler discussed his new book, Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York (NYU Press, 2019). Listen to the full show, “Closer Look: The History of Black Youth & The Criminal Justice System,” and check out the recent new faculty profile of Dr. Suddler.