SHAFR Recognizes Outstanding Scholarship and Service at the 2019 Annual Meeting
The Betty M. Unterberger Dissertation Prize Committee -- Jonathan Nashel (presenting), April Merleaux, and Erez Manela -- has awarded the 2019 prize to Jessica Levy for her dissertation “Black Power, Inc.: Global American Business and the Post-Apartheid City,” which she completed at Johns Hopkins University in 2018 under the direction of Professors Nathan Connolly and Angus Burgin. It is a path-breaking study that brings together international history, business history, and African-American history. Levy weaves these different historical methods into a dissertation on how the United States, and African-Americans, worked to abolish South Africa’s apartheid system. To an impressive extent, she links local histories with larger global struggles and does this all with unusual clarity and rigor. Her research in both U.S. and South African archives is comprehensive, especially her use of the records of NGOs in South Africa. By bringing the history of capitalism together with scholarship on the global black freedom movement, Levy is opening up new ways to conceive of U.S. foreign relations. Her dissertation focuses on Leon Sullivan, a prominent Philadelphia minister, and how his ideas on black entrepreneurship and on the “self-help” movement within the African-American community led to the adoption of the “Sullivan Principles” to guide multinational corporations in the fight against apartheid. Sullivan’s efforts were in turn adopted by Sam Motsuenyane’s National African Federated Chamber of Commerce to challenge the economic underpinnings of apartheid. Levy’s dissertation therefore internationalizes neo-liberal politics and history, while linking individuals with larger global histories. The committee was impressed with the way Levy developed this multi-faceted history into a sharply written piece of scholarship.
The Committee has also awarded honorable mention to Amanda Demmer’s “The Last Chapter of the Vietnam War: Normalization, Nongovernmental Actors, and the Politics of Human Rights, 1975-1995,” completed at the University of New Hampshire in 2017 under the direction of Kurk Dorsey. Demmer looks at how the Vietnam War, far from ending in April 1975, continued to influence U.S. politics and culture well into the 1990s. She deftly weaves foreign policy, immigration history, and non-state actors in ways that show the full complexity of this history. She argues that, at its core, the end of the Vietnam War was traumatic, but this history also involves recent Vietnamese immigrants coming to the U.S. and learning how to use the levers of power to achieve their political goals of recognition by both countries. Demmer carefully details how the issue of human rights linked in unexpected ways within this history as well. Her study challenges the reader to rethink how the Vietnam War continued to reverberate in U.S. politics and culture decades after its official end point. This study is a welcome addition to the literature on the Vietnam War and will serve as a new way for historians to think about the war and its aftermath.
The winner of the Marilyn Blatt Young Dissertation Completion Fellowship is Ida Yalzadeh of Brown University (receiving the award from SHAFR President Barbara Keys to the left). Yalzadeh examines U.S. foreign relations through the lens of immigration history. Yalzadeh’s dissertation, “Solidarities and Solitude: Tracing the Racial Boundaries of the Iranian Diaspora,” explores the increasingly contentious relationship between the United States and Iran over six decades through its impact on Iranian-Americans. Beginning with the 1953 coup that overthrew Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadeq, Yalzadeh reveals how racial formation within the United States and Iranian strategies of belonging reflected the changing political relations between Washington and Tehran. From Cold War propaganda to Third World solidarity activism and domestic lobbying today, Yalzadeh interrogates notions of U.S. and Iranian exceptionalism, whiteness and brownness, and the implications of foreign policy on the lived experiences of Iranian-Americans. Her transnational study benefits from rich multilingual, multi-archival sources that intersect with and contribute to the historiography of U.S. foreign relations, immigration, and ethnic studies. This important and innovative study is a timely intervention that promises to enhance our understanding of the fraught relations between the United States and Iran as well as the contested nature of race, ethnicity, and identity.
The Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize Committee—Stephen Macekura, Tehila Sasson, and Daniel Bessner—is pleased to announce that Alex (formerly) Betsy Beasley (University of Texas, Austin) is this year’s recipient of the Bernath Article Prize. Their article, entitled “Service Learning: Oil, International Education, and Texas’s Corporate Cold War,” appeared in the April 2018 issue of Diplomatic History. In the article, Beasley argues the U.S. oil industry, led by a cohort of Houston-based companies, responded to decolonization and oilfield nationalization by restructuring its economic model. By shifting from oil extraction and production to the provision of expertise and services, Beasley shows how U.S.-based companies retained their powerful position in the industry even as the geopolitical context for their activities changed dramatically. Focusing on oil companies’ international education programs, Beasley blends a careful and nuanced study of cultural diplomacy, economic history, and political power to highlight how U.S. corporations evolved to suit the post-colonial era. The article contributes to the history of cultural diplomacy, business history, and twentieth-century global capitalism, demonstrating that an emphasis on local centers of global power--such as Cold War-era Houston--can offer fruitful insights into the broader history of the United States in the world.
The Robert H. Ferrell Prize rewards distinguished scholarship in the history of American foreign relations, broadly defined, for a book beyond the author’s first monograph. This year’s prize committee (David Painter (presenting the award below), Susan Carruthers, and James Goode) announced this year’s winner is Sarah B. Snyder for From Selma to Moscow: How Human Rights Activists Transformed U.S. Foreign Policy (Columbia University Press, 2018). In this creatively conceptualized, deeply researched, carefully argued, and clearly written study, Snyder illuminates the impact of human rights activists on U.S. foreign policy from John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961 to Jimmy Carter’s in 1977, a period she labels the “long 1960s.” Focusing on policy toward the Soviet Union, Southern Rhodesia, Greece, South Korea, and Chile, Snyder traces the growing impact of human rights concerns over time and over a diverse group of countries to demonstrate that human rights had become an important issue in U.S. foreign policy well before Carter arrived in Washington. Snyder carefully examines the motivations that led individual Americans to become concerned about human rights, reasons often connected to their struggles in the civil rights movement and/or service abroad, such as Peace Corps volunteers and missionaries. Viewing the United States from abroad provided a new perspective, which led them to conclude that in many cases U.S. foreign policy had lost its moral bearing. Unlike the 1980s when the Reagan administration sought to use human rights as a Cold War weapon, activists in the long 1960s looked at violations by U.S. allies as well as by adversaries. Snyder also makes clear the strengths and the limits of Congressional influence on foreign policy, a very important, but often neglected, issue. The results of her research should inspire historians to consult the widely dispersed but very valuable papers of members of Congress. In addition, her extensive notes demonstrate her mastery of the primary and secondary sources. In short, From Selma to Moscow provides a model of how to address a complex but vitally important topic.
The Robert H. Ferrell Prize Committee also awarded Honorable Mention to David C. Engerman for his book The Price of Aid: The Economic Cold War in India. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union sought to utilize development aid as a tool to advance their interests in what was then called the Third World. India was at the center of this economic Cold War. Some scholars argue that India and other developing countries benefitted from this Cold War competition, because it allowed them to gain more aid by playing the superpowers against each other. In his sweeping study of the political economy of U.S. and Soviet aid to India from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, Engerman shows that the reality was much more complicated. Drawing on research in archives in seven countries--including extensive research in U.S., Soviet, and Indian records--and mastery of a wide range of secondary sources, Engerman examines how different factions in the Indian government sought external aid to further their own development priorities. Planners who favored state-led industrialization and a strong public sector looked to the Soviet Union for assistance; officials who wanted to promote the private sector and free markets favored integration into the global economy and looked to the United States. Rather than benefitting India, the Cold War reinforced rivalries within the government, distorted national development by leading officials to focus on projects and plans that would appeal to foreign donors, and left India burdened with a huge foreign debt. A path-breaking study, The Price of Aid illuminates a neglected aspect of the international history of the postwar world.
The Peter L. Hahn SHAFR Distinguished Service Award recognizes a senior historian who, over a career, has shown a deep commitment to the growth and development of our organization. The award committee (Thomas Zeiler (chair), Mary Dudziak (presenting), and Lloyd Gardner) selected Professor Emeritus Richard Immerman of Temple University as the 2019 recipient. While all of the nominees were, in the words of committee member Mary Dudziak, “amazingly impressive,” one of Richard’s nominators convincingly summed up his contributions by stating that “few people have done more to support SHAFR in about every way possible over the course of the organization’s existence.” Over his four decades as a SHAFR member, Richard equaled his prominence in research and teaching with his devotion to service. Richard has served in nearly every governing role in SHAFR – the Program Committee, the Diplomatic History editorial board, book and article prize committees, Council, and as the organization’s 40th president. He built SHAFR into a top-tier influence in scholarship, teaching, and service across our own our field, making us the envy of the historical profession itself. As president, he helped expand and diversify our membership by race, gender, geography, and methodology, including the creation of what has now become the standing Committee on Women in SHAFR. As president, director of the endowment, and a strategic planner on the Ways and Means Committee, Richard also orchestrated funding arrangements that enriched SHAFR on a permanent basis. He was instrumental in negotiating contracts for the journal, Diplomatic History, that provided the financial foundation for many of SHAFR’s activities today. These accomplishments arose in an era when the profession and our field were transforming, and when academia felt the pinch of funding reductions. That Richard saw us through these changes, and SHAFR actually grew, is a major feat.
But even from this top echelon, Richard continued to give advice to every SHAFR member--young and veteran, student and faculty--and he still does from retirement! He was, and is, a tireless advocate for us, a leader who builds bridges to SHAFR members in myriad ways. Such informal advice speaks to his wisdom and generosity. Younger scholars note how Richard encouraged them to participate in SHAFR; he has mentored many of them into key positions. The entire field is also indebted to Richard for his work on declassification, as Award Committee member Lloyd Gardner notes, whether as head of the SHAFR Historical Documentation Committee or as the esteemed, long-serving chair (since 2010) of the Historical Advisory Committee at the Department of State. It should be noted that he still serves as Chair, even though he retired a few years ago.
Richard has helped make SHAFR the vibrant and important organization it is today. As one nominator declared, everything he touched turned to gold--and he touched everything! He’s been the face of the organization and “remains its heart and soul.” It is an honor to name Richard Immerman the recipient of the Peter L. Hahn SHAFR Distinguished Service Award for his lifetime of commitment and leadership to our organization.
The 2018 Norman and Laura Graebner Award for Lifetime Achievement, (presented here by committee chair Edward Miller on behalf of the committee that also included Kristin Hoganson and Lien-Hang Nguyen), goes to Emily S. Rosenberg, Professor Emerita of the University of California at Irvine (and formerly of Macalester College). By any measure, Professor Rosenberg’s career as a scholar and leader in the field of U.S. foreign relations is extraordinary. She is the author, co-author, or editor of more than a dozen books; she has also published more than seventy articles, essays, and scholarly introductions/prefaces. Yet even more remarkable than the quantity of the scholarship she has produced is the deep and enduring impact of the arguments and interventions presented in her work. Indeed, Professor Rosenberg’s scholarly work is notable not merely because it has been widely read and acclaimed by her peers, but because it has sparked and shaped some of the most consequential intellectual developments in the study of U.S. foreign relations over the past forty years. As several of Professor Rosenberg’s nominators observed, her path-breaking 1982 book, Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945, was one of the first to apply cultural theory and cultural studies to the study of U.S. foreign relations. The nominators also highlighted her 1990 essay on gender in the Journal of American History and her “Walking the Borders” article in Diplomatic History the same year; these are now widely viewed as foundational texts that both anticipated and inspired the “cultural turn” that has defined and informed so much of the work in our field since the 1990s. More generally, Professor Rosenberg has frequently borrowed and applied theoretical and methodological tools from anthropology, literary studies, and gender and sexuality studies; by leveraging these tools from other disciplines, her work has opened new interpretive approaches to the study of race, masculinity, biopower, religion, and consumer culture in the study of U.S. foreign relations. At the same time, Prof. Rosenberg’s work has consistently offered refreshingly new perspectives on some traditional diplomatic history topics, such as U.S. economic diplomacy. Indeed, her sustained attention to economics, trade, and the ideology of “liberal-developmentalism” as a feature of twentieth-century capitalism shows that she was one of the first scholars to explore the history of globalization—and indeed, that she was doing so even before that term was coined.
In the area of service to the profession, Professor Rosenberg’s contributions are aptly described as “heroic” and “extensive.” She has served on boards and committees for the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians as well as serving as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation. She joined the editorial boards of some of the best-known journals in the field, including The American Historical Review, Diplomatic History, The Journal of American History, and Reviews in American History. She is a co-editor of the much-lauded Duke University Press series “American Encounters/Global Interactions,” which she has used to promote the work of other scholars who have followed her with their own contributions to the “cultural turn.” Last and most important, she has been a tireless leader and advocate for SHAFR, having served as its president in 1997 (when she became just the second woman to head the organization) and headed countless committees, councils, boards, conference panels, and roundtables on behalf of our organization and its work.
In recognition of this extraordinary career of leadership in scholarship, teaching, and service, our committee is pleased and honored to name Professor Emily S. Rosenberg as the winner of the 2018 Norman and Laura Graebner Award for lifetime achievement. We note that Professor Rosenberg is the first woman to receive this award—a fitting distinction for a scholar who has mentored and inspired many of the other women who have built successful careers in our field in recent decades.