2017 SHAFR Prizes
On Saturday, June 25, 2017, SHAFR presented the following awards at the Presidential Luncheon:
Betty M. Unterberger Dissertation Prize Committee—Vanessa Walker, Jim Meriwether, and Jonathan Nashel—has awarded the 2017 prize to Zach Fredman for his outstanding dissertation “From Allies to Occupiers: Living with the U.S. Military in Wartime China, 1941-1945” (Boston University, 2016). committee was impressed with the depth and breadth of his multinational archival research and attentive analysis to both Chinese and U.S. perspectives. His sophisticated analysis of the daily experiences and interactions of both Chinese and U.S. actors makes a critical contribution to our understanding of U.S.-Sino relations in the 20th century. Moreover, Fredman’s dissertation is an impressive piece of research that reveals the complicated overlap of alliance and occupation that has often been involved in the United States’ presence in foreign territories throughout the 20th century. committee takes great pleasure in recognizing this exemplary piece of work.
The committee also cited Betsy A. Beasley’s dissertation, “At Your Service: Houston and the Preservation of U.S. Global Power, 1945-2008” (Yale University, 2016) for an honorable mention in the 2017 Unterberger Dissertation Prize. “At Your Service” is an ambitious and original study of the transformation of American internationalism through the prism of the oilfield services industry in Houston, Texas. Beasley’s work traces the development of “service globalism”—that is the export of expertise rather than products—and its implications for U.S. corporate and governmental power at home and abroad. This work exemplifies the exciting nexus between local and global forces that have defined the United States in the twentieth century and raises important questions about the relationship between capitalism, labor, race, and power for the United States today.
(L-R, Vanessa Walker, Betsy Beasley, & Mary Dudziak)
The newly renamed Marilyn Blatt Young Dissertation Completion Fellowship committee of Mike Morgan(chair), Megan Black, and Osamah Khalil announced the two recipients for 2017:
Nguyet Nguyen, of American University, is bringing the Vietnamese diaspora into the history of the global movement against the Vietnam War. She examines the ways in which Vietnamese exiles built support among activists in the United States and Western Europe in an effort to persuade the American government to withdraw its forces. In this account of international diplomacy from below, state and nonstate actors collided, as migrants, university students, and transnational social movements mobilized support for the National Liberation Front. Nguyen’s research moves impressively across continents, integrating Vietnamese, American, and French sources into a single, globe-spanning story. Operating in the best tradition of the “new diplomatic history,” she offers new explanations for the failure of U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam and Washington’s inability to win over international public opinion. In this way, she sheds new light on an important and previously neglected aspect of the conflict.
It is widely accepted that the U.S. War on Drugs has left its mark on Mexico, but the history and consequences of this process have not been well understood. Aileen Teague, a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University, is breaking through this barrier with a dissertation that explores how U.S. drug control policies shaped Mexican domestic politics. It makes a major contribution to the history of the United States and the world by illuminating the actors, institutions, and policies that shaped patterns of drug addiction and violence in two societies. Navigating the national and local levels of this story, Teague examines the perspectives of U.S. policymakers, Mexican leaders, local drug enforcement agents, Mexican soldiers, opium producers, and insurgents. Her dissertation reveals how the United States and Mexico constructed an antidrug worldview that has provided an essential framework for more recent policies concerning immigration, manufacturing, and border enforcement. Teague’s multisited and multilingual work breaks new ground and offers important insights into present-day problems. (L-R, Black, Teague, Morgan, & Dudziak)
The Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize Committee—Andrew M. Johnston, Kristin Ahlberg, and Stephen Macekura—has awarded the 2017 prize for distinguished research and writing by a junior scholar to Tehila Sasson of Emory University for her article "Milking the Third World? Humanitarianism, Capitalism, and the Moral Economy of the Nestlé Boycott,” published in the American Historical Review in October 2016. The committee judged the article’s impressively broad research, and its ability to combine the new histories of humanitarianism with emerging transnational consumer critiques of multinational corporations, as an exemplary demonstration of the intersection of global and international history. The article makes a persuasive argument about the emergence of a global “moral economy” in the 1970s that has continuing salience in our understanding of global governance today. The committee is delighted to be able to recognize Dr. Sasson’s exceptional contribution to the field.
Hal Brands, Andrew Preston, and Emily Conroy-Krutz awarded the 2017 Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize for the best initial book in the field of U.S. foreign relations to Matthew Karp for his book, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy (Harvard University Press, 2016). Karp’s book is a path-breaking and highly original account that relates the rise of U.S. power in the decades preceding the Civil War to an unfolding global struggle over the future of slavery. It describes the intimate relationship between slaveholders and America’s increasingly ambitious foreign policy and maps the ways in which these individuals sought to fashion a broader global order and economic system based on white supremacy, human bondage, and an aggressive and empowered state. In doing so, Karp’s book provides new insights on U.S. foreign policy in the antebellum era as well as the battles between abolitionists and slaveholders that roiled the Atlantic world. This Vast Southern Empire is an impressive work of scholarship, one that is likely to shape debates for years to come.
Julia Cobbs, Julia Irwin, and David Painter have awarded the 2017 Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize, which rewards distinguished scholarship in the history of American foreign relations, broadly defined, for a book beyond the author’s first monograph to Nancy Mitchell for Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race and the Cold War. Her deeply researched and engagingly written book not only provides a detailed and nuanced account of U.S. policy towards Africa during the Carter years, it also compellingly argues that scholars (not to mention pundits and the public) have misunderstood Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy. Rather than an inexperienced and naïve liberal more interested in promoting human rights than containing Communism, Carter was an intelligent, disciplined, and convinced Cold Warrior who believed new policies were necessary to achieve victory in the Cold War. Drawing on extensive research in documentary collections of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Cuba, South Africa, and Zambia, in addition to interviews with twenty-eight key participants and a firm command of the secondary literature, Mitchell makes a stunning contribution to the history of U.S. foreign relations. In prose of literary distinction, Jimmy Carter in Africa uncovers new information and advances novel interpretations about an understudied region, period, and president. (L-R: Nancy Mitchell, Mary Dudziak, Julia Irwin)
The Arthur S. Link-Warren F. Kuehl Prize for Documentary Editing recognizes outstanding collections of primary-source materials in the fields of international or diplomatic history, especially those distinguished by the inclusion of commentary designed to interpret the documents and set them within their historical context. In the two meticulous volumes of The Nixon Tapes, Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter have done the heroic work of transcribing and annotating the 3,700 hours captured by the recording devices in the Oval Office between 1971 and 1973. Less than 5 percent of those conversations had been previously transcribed and published. The prize committee—Laura Belmonte, Brad Simpson, and Nichole Phelps—is pleased to make this award.
In response to a clear demand from the organization’s membership, SHAFR’s Council has this year established an annual SHAFR Distinguished Service Award. The first recipient is Peter Hahn. Peter has been almost certainly the most important single person in the distinguished history of our organization. He served as our Executive Director from 2002 to 2015. One past-president has observed that Peter “in effect ran the organization, served as its institutional memory, and oversaw its enormous expansion, and as such he is largely responsible for its success.” Other former presidents who worked closely with him recall Peter’s “extraordinary administrative competence” and his “reassuring unflappability.” Various SHAFR Presidents recalled hearing endless variations on the phrase, “It’s already taken care of.” Peter has for years infused SHAFR with his deep moral integrity and steadfast courtesy and concern for others. A longtime chair of the History Department and mentor to dozens of graduate students at Ohio State University, Peter now serves as Dean of Arts and Humanities. Last fall, Peter was elected Vice President of SHAFR and will take over as President next year.