SHAFR Awards Prizes at its Annual Conference

Wednesday, July 18, 2018 - 8:00am

SHAFR Awards Prizes at its Annual Conference

The Oxford University Press USA International History Dissertation Prize was awarded to Fritz Bartel.  His dissertation, “The Triumph of Broken Promises: Oil, Finance, and the End of the Cold War,” was completed at Cornell University under the direction of Frederik Logevall.  The prize committee -- Jim Meriwether, Jonathan Nashel, and April Merleaux -- was deeply impressed with his ambitious undertaking and the conceptual framework that weaves the economic crisis beginning in the early 1970s with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism in the late 1980s.  Bartel argues that the oil crisis shifted the terrain of the Cold War to the private realm of oil and financial markets, the movements of which were beyond the control of any single nation-state.  Diplomacy and statecraft, he argues, thus cannot fully explain when and why communism collapsed as a form of governance.  Instead, Bartel offers a powerful framework for understanding the late Cold War within a globalizing international system comprised of private and state actors. His sophisticated analysis connects oil, global financial markets, and the politics of austerity in democratic capitalist states and state socialist regimes.  The oil crisis and its long-term reverberations fundamentally challenged the material basis upon which political legitimacy rested for leaders on both sides of the Iron Curtain.  Nation-states reacted to economic shocks in divergent ways, but ultimately democratic capitalist states more effectively managed the political consequences of austerity.  The work, under the direction of Frederik Logevall, was supported by impressive multinational and multilingual sources from Poland, Germany, Hungary, the UK, and the United States.  Bartel challenges us rethink the end of the Cold War, and the relationship between diplomacy and domestic politics.  The committee takes great pleasure in recognizing this exemplary piece of scholarship.


The committee also awarded Honorable Mention to Carly Goodman, for her dissertation, “Global Game of Chance: The U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery, Transnational Migration, and Cultural Diplomacy in Africa, 1990-2016,” which was completed at Temple University under the direction of Richard Immerman and with support from a SHAFR Dissertation Completion Fellowship.  Combining international history with migration and policy history, Goodman illuminates the history of the U.S. Diversity Visa lottery, and contributes original archival and oral history findings in the little studied area of African migration to the United States.  Since 1990, the Diversity Visa lottery has transformed African immigration to the United States, and reshaped the ways Africans imagine the United States as a land of opportunity. Her research in the United States, Ghana, and Cameroon enables her to highlight the ideas and efforts of African visa entrepreneurs, including travel agents and cyber café operators, as well as lottery applicants, U.S. policymakers and diplomats, and non-state policy advocacy groups.  Working with Richard Immerman, Goodman provides an exciting and compelling model of contemporary history.


SHAFR’s Marilyn B. Young Dissertation Completion Fellowship provides a year-long award to support the writing and completion of a doctoral dissertation of exceptional potential. This year the committee reviewed applications from a truly sterling and highly competitive field of candidates—the highest number in recent memory. The selection committee, consisting of Megan Black, Osamah Khalil, and Hidetaka Hirota, had the distinct pleasure of engaging these projects that will no doubt shape the field of U.S. foreign relations history for years to come. The recipient of this year’s award is Caleb G. Hardner, a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, for his dissertation, “Infectious Intruders, Helpless Hawaiians: Public Health and the Meaning of Race in Colonial Hawai’i, 1879-1914.”

Hardner’s dissertation explores an exciting intersection of public health and racialization in U.S. imperial management in Hawai'i. Building on extensive research in the Hawaii State Archives and multidisciplinary methods, Hardner reveals the contingent process by which the U.S. imperial state attempted to construct tidy racial hierarchies along supposed disease vectors—most notably, leprosy but also venereal disease and other pathogens—among a decidedly multiracial and transnational population of indigenous, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese plantation laborers. Over time, indigenous Hawai’ians were deemed assimilable, while migrant laborers were deemed incurable vessels of contagion. In the end, the seemingly mundane and neutral practices of scientific medicine became key sites, or “laboratories,” in which the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion on Hawai’i were determined on the murky path from territorial holding to statehood. This dissertation thus contributes to subfields of central importance to SHAFR, including the history of the United States and the world, migration, and empire studies, while also insisting on the importance of the history of medicine and analyses of interracial labor to understandings of U.S. global power. We believe Caleb is in an ideal position from which to launch a year of dissertation research with funds provided by SHAFR, and we congratulate him on this incredible achievement!

The Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize Committee—Kristin Ahlberg, Stephen Macekura, and Tehila Sasson—is pleased to announce that Vanessa Ogle (UC-Berkeley) is this year’s recipient of the Bernath Article Prize.  Vanessa’s article, entitled “Archipelago Capitalism:  Tax Havens, Offshore Money, and the State, 1950s-1970s,” appeared in the December 2017 issue of the American Historical Review.  In it, Ogle makes a persuasive argument for studying the rise of the capitalist archipelago.  These fluid spaces allowed for state and non-state actors to enhance free-market capitalism and enterprise through a variety of avoidance measures, including tax havens and shelters, free trade zones, and offshore markets.  Ogle’s elegantly-written article touches upon several topics, not limited to decolonization, finance, transnationalism, and development, and utilizes a variety of multi-archival sources.  This broad focus of analysis, we determined, meant that Ogle was more than deserving of this year’s award.  That said, the Committee was also encouraged by the sophisticated scholarship produced by the other Bernath nominees, as published in Diplomatic History and other journals, as it can only bode well for our field. 


Tore C. Olsson of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville is this year’s recipient of the Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize for Agrarian Crossings: Reformers and the Remaking of the US and Mexican Countryside (Princeton University Press, 2017).  The prize committee of Andrew Preston (chair), Emily Conroy-Krutz, and Madeline Hsu especially appreciated the book’s bilingual research, engaging writing, and historiographical nuance.  They noted that this exploration of US-Mexico relations emphasizes two-way flows and intersecting campaigns targeting rural poverty. Olsson foregrounds the congruence of Depression-era rural poverty in Mexico and the U.S. South to investigate an array of reform-minded activists—including politicians, government bureaucrats, diplomats, scholars, and foundation administrators—who sought practical solutions to development problems by adapting strategies from their neighboring region. He persuasively argues that these rural poverty programs evolved into global practices of aid and technical assistance. U.S. officials then deployed these policies during the Cold War, particularly in fostering the “green revolution” in the developing world where, just as in Mexico and the U.S. South, food supply has greatly improved even as deeply divisive issues of rural poverty remained. This ingenious reconceptualization of the origins of development theory turns our gaze away from Cold War modernization theorists and towards rural agricultural policy in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. It also reminds us of the shared topographies, troubled social and economic hierarchies, and social-justice commitments that have characterized relations between the United States and Mexico.

The Myrna Bernath Book Prize committee—Andy DeRoche (chair), Meredith Oyen and Sayuri Shimizu—reviewed a very strong pool of submissions whose topics ranged from recent Muslim women’s human rights to the role of women telephone operations in World War I, and focused on areas around the globe. The research and writing on display in these publications was truly impressive, across the board.   From this strong pool, Rebecca Tinio McKenna’s American Imperial Pastoral: The Architecture of US Colonialism in the Philippines (University of Chicago Press, 2017) won the honor.  McKenna’s innovative and insightful masterpiece carefully examined the American colonial hill station of Baguio, where they tried to create a racial haven for the new U.S. crew of white colonizers. By taking the focus away from urban centers such as Manila, McKenna succeeded in revealing different aspects of the U.S. occupation of the Philippines.  According to committee member Meredith Oyen, McKenna’s work was an “excellent use of local history to explore a much bigger issue - nominally about this one place, but actually about the whole colonial system.” Furthermore, Oyen commented that McKenna’s “attention to the physical space and structures is novel and important.” Finally, the whole committee agreed that McKenna achieved impressive balance in her evidence by extensively utilizing Philippine archives, making her argument more convincing.

The Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize, established to honor this long-time professor of diplomatic history at Indiana University (1953-1990), rewards distinguished scholarship in the history of American foreign relations, broadly defined.  This year’s committee – Julia Irwin (chair), David Painter, and Susan Carruthers – recognized Nathan J. Citino of Rice University for his book, Envisioning the Arab Future: Modernization in U.S.-Arab Relations, 1945-1967, published by Cambridge University Press.  In this exceptional book, Nathan Citino weaves together the histories of U.S.-Arab relations, modernization and development, and the global Cold War while advancing bold new arguments about each of these subjects. Upending much of the existing scholarship on the United States in the postwar Middle East, Citino places Arab perspectives and experiences at the heart of his narrative. He recovers how a diverse cast of Arab elites—among them nationalists, communists, and Islamists—interacted with U.S. officials in the field of development, analyzing their contests over the meanings of modernization as well as the consensuses they shared on particular development ideas and programs. Through his regional focus on the Arab Middle East, Citino also brings fresh insights and much-needed local nuance to the global histories of the Cold War, Third Worldism, and anticolonialism. Methodologically, Citino’s work is truly impressive. Grounded in a wide range of Arabic and English-language sources, and based on extensive archival research in Lebanon, Egypt, the United Kingdom, and the United States, his book succeeds in putting Arab and U.S. American voices into dialogue, emphasizing the agency of both sides in this exchange. Further, with his sustained attention to non-U.S. historiographies, Citino demonstrates the critical importance of integrating multiple scholarly perspectives into the study of U.S. diplomatic history. His innovative and engaging book represents an outstanding example of both international history and the history of American foreign relations.