Assistant Professor Carl Suddler recently wrote a piece in The Washington Post commenting on the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” which chronicles the story of five teenagers — the so-called Central Park Five — forced to confess to a rape they did not commit in 1989. Suddler is the author of Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York, to be published by NYU press in July of 2019. Read the full piece, “How the Central Park Five expose the fundamental injustice in our legal system,” along with the excerpt below.
“When They See Us” sheds new light on this old tale and aims to create change. DuVernay’s miniseries joins the decades-long efforts by activists to humanize the Central Park Five beyond the numeric moniker. It also, perhaps most notably, has inspired the next generation of social justice activists committed to working to overturn wrongful convictions and to reigniting mainstream discussions about criminal injustices in America’s legal system, in the hope of achieving an overhaul of the system.
Dr. Kylie M. Smith is Assistant Professor and the Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing and the Humanities. In the spring of 2019, Smith taught a freshman seminar in History entitled “Madness in America: A History from Lunancy to Mass Incarceration.” The Emory School of Nursing just published an insightful profile of Smith’s research and teaching: “A Different Set of Tools: Using the humanities to understand nursing’s role in social justice.” Read the full profile and see the description of the course below.
History 190: “Madness in America: A History from Lunancy to Mass Incarceration”
In this course we will explore the history of approaches to mental illness in the US, and consider the impact of this history for current issues in mental health. Topic areas include the culture of asylums, slavery and psychiatry, changing definitions and treatment practices, depictions of madness in popular culture, Civil Rights and patient rights, and trauma, war and the role of psychiatry in social control. We will visit the archives to explore journalist’s exposes and medical records as we attempt to uncover hidden histories of shame and stigma. We will seek to understand the experience and construction of “the patient” through the intersection of culture, politics and law, and ask critical questions about the nature of mental illness itself. Our goal in this course is to understand how historical attitudes shaped the development of policy and services, and how this impacts those with mental illness today. In this process we will explore the ethics of confinement of the mentally ill and analyze the troubled relationship between mental illness and criminality.
The Brazil section of the Latin American Studies Association recently awarded prizes to Dr. Lena Oak Suk and Dr. Andrew G. Britt, both historians of Brazil and alumni of the Emory History Department. Suk, who was advised by Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History Jeffrey Lesser, is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. She received Honorable Mention in the Best Article in the Humanities category her piece: “‘Only the Fragile Sex Admitted’: The Women’s Restaurant in 1920s São Paulo, Brazil,” Journal of Social History 51:3 (Spring 2018). Britt, who is currently Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at Northwestern University, received Honorable Mention in the Best Dissertation in the Humanities category for his work, “‘I’ll Samba Someplace Else’: Constructing Neighborhood and Identity in São Paulo, 1930s-1980s.” Britt was co-advised by Lesser and Thomas D. Rogers, Associate Professor of Modern Latin American History and NEH/Arthur Blank Distinguished Teaching Professor (2018-2021).
Natália Salgado Bueno, Assistant Professor in Emory’s Department of Political Science, also received an Honorable Mention in the Best Article in the Social Sciences category for: “Bypassing the Enemy: Distributive Politics, Credit Claiming, and Nonstate Organizations in Brazil,” Comparative Political Studies 51:3 (Mar. 2018), pp. 304–340.
History Majors Ellie Coe and Hannah Fuller have each won Elizabeth Long Atwood Undergraduate Research Awards from Emory’s Woodruff Library. The Atwood Award recognizes the best paper that makes use of the library’s resources and applies research skills and critical analysis to evidence. Coe’s piece is titled “The Soldier’s Queue in the Eighteenth Century,” and she wrote the paper in Prof. Judith A. Miller’s course “The Origins of Capitalism” (Fall 2018). Fuller conducted the research for her paper, “Jemima Wilkinson: The Genderless Feminist of the Enlightenment,” in Prof. Judith A. Miller’s course “HIST 385W: Scandalous Texts in the Enlightenment” (Spring 2018). Learn more about the awards here: http://web.library.emory.edu/research-learning/award-research-programs/undergraduate-research-award.html.
Senior History Honors student Yi Xie is currently working on her thesis as an undergraduate fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Xie’s thesis is titled “Becoming American in a Multiracial Context: Chinese ‘Sojourners’ and African Americans’ Battle for Inclusion in a White Republic, 1868-1904.” She recently wrote a reflection, “Becoming American: A Historical Parallel between Chinese Immigrants and African Americans, 1868-1904,” about her research and experiences at the Fox Center. Read the full post here along with an excerpt from the abstract of her project below.
“This research aims to develop a clear understanding of the racial dynamics of the second half of the nineteenth century by studying the ‘Chinese Question,’ the ‘Negro Problem,’ and the relations between the two from the perspectives of abolitionists, Caucasian immigrants, African Americans, and the Chinese. She investigates why and how the ‘Chinese Question’ and the ‘Negro Problem’ were conflated and differentiated, and how dynamic and complex were the relations between the two. She also conducts a comparative study of anti-black and anti-Chinese violence on the West Coast. She has visited archives in Northampton, MA and will conduct more archival research in Seattle, WA.”
NPR’s Michel Martin, host of “All Things Considered,” recently interviewed Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt about the resurgence of public antisemitism in the contemporary United States. Lipstadt is, most recently, the author of Antisemitism: Here And Now (Schocken, 2019). At Emory she holds positions as Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies and as associated faculty in the History Department. Read the full transcript of the interview here.
Junyi Han, an undergraduate and Honors student in the History Department, will present a paper at the 10th Annual Texas A&M History Conference: “Resistance in Retrospect.” Han’s paper asks why the “Great Purge,” or Joseph Stalin’s violent repression of dissenters in the 1930s, did not generate greater resistance in Soviet society. Han has conducted the research under the direction of Dr. Matthew Payne, Associate Professor of History and a specialist in modern Russian and Soviet history. Read more about the conference and check out Han’s abstract below:
The Spread of Terror
This research project examines a lack of resistance against the Great Purge in the Soviet Union. This topic has great historical significance and rich research potential. A thorough examination of the reasons that caused a lack of resistance among Soviet society can provide insights into the dynamics of the Great Purge and facilitates an understanding of mass terror under dictatorial regimes in general.
While the Great Purge was originally targeted at the political elites, it expanded at an unexpected speed and millions of ordinary civilians became its victims. My research uses a bottom-up approach to examine the internal driving forces that dragged people into this political turmoil. The findings are mainly based on primary sources, such as personal letters, diaries, and memoirs. I have also consulted secondary literature to support my argument.
This project suggests that the expansion of terror is in fact largely a matter of individual choice. During the Great Purge, a sense of duty, fear, personal grudges, and opportunism significantly propelled Soviet people to spread terror at a breakneck speed, and therefore caused numberless victims to be devoured in the 1930s. This research provides insights into the dynamics of mass terror and serves as a stepping stone for further research on political repressions in dictatorial regimes.