Student Spotlight

Meet graduate students in our program with impressive research records.

Sean Gallagher

Co-awardee of the 2016 Emile G. Scholz Prize

A third-year student studying early American history, Sean Gallagher was co-awarded the 2016 Emile G. Scholz Prize for is second-year research paper, "Enslaved Maritime Laborers and Military Overseership in Revolutionary South Carolina." This prize was established in honor of alumnus Bret Hewitt's grandfather, Emile G. Scholz, to honor the graduate student with the best piece of historical written research.

Sean Gallagher's research focuses on the lived experiences of enslaved people during the American Revolution. Specifically, Sean is interested in studying the Revolution in the South as a period in which political and military institutions conscripted thousands of enslaved people for public labor to police them. Sean's dissertation will explore how enslaved people forged new kinds of community and shaped their own racial identities in the process of surviving and contesting Revolutionary labor discipline and surveillance.

His advisor, Professor Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor, writes of his work: "Sean's research uncovers the overlapping efforts of revolutionary governments and occupying armies to contain and mobilize the labor of people in the South for war and its aftermath. His careful detective work in British and American military records, business correspondence, and slave sale advertisements also promises to glimpse the tenuous communities of men and women who worked on waterways, roads, and workshops of the late eighteenth century. Rightfully suspicious of claims that liberty and Revolution went hand-in-hand, Sean demonstrates how Patriots bolstered the system of slavery with wages, as well as violence." 

Mike Haggerty

Co-awardee of the 2016 Emile G. Scholz Prize.

After transferring from CUNY with his advisor Professor Gregory Downs in Fall 2015, Mike Haggerty has established himself as an integral part of the History Department here at UC Davis. In June 2016, Mike was co-awarded the Emile G. Scholz prize for his second-year research paper, "Low Company: Mike Walsh and the Politics of Freedom in Nineteenth-Century America."

Mike's work examines the exponential growth of urban incarceration in the nineteenth century, a development that shaped the lives of a growing number of working people. He focuses on inmates who were capable of political action and often utilized violence alongside a rhetoric of "wage slavery" to negotiate for power in nineteenth century America. He maintains that examining the political activism of the nineteenth-century inmates promises a deeper understanding of the limits of anti-slavery politics as well as the pro-slavery alliances of southern slave owners and northern wage laborers.

Mike's advisor, Professor Gregory Downs, underscores the importance of this work writing: "Mike's work not only reveals that the American incarceration has a deep history but also changes out sense of its roots by fining them less in state prisons than in city and county jails, which grew dramatically in the early to mid-nineteenth century, partly in response to Irish immigration. By detective work in the archives, Mike has unearthed some of the most convincing data about the size and scales of local jails in the pre-Civil War Era, and by careful connections to political events, has begun to make the case for the centrality of those experiences in shaping the way white Northerners talked about freedom and government. His work promises to rewrite our sense of the origins of America's unusual rates of imprisonment and to show how imprisonment shaped the political beliefs of people in the mid-nineteenth century United States."

Looking ahead, Mike will serve as a graduate student researcher for the Institute of Social Sciences during Spring 2017.

Genesis Lara

2015-2017 Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship Awardee

Genesis is a second-year student in Latin American history. Upon entering the program in Fall 2015, Genesis was awarded the prestigious Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship by the Office of Graduate Studies. Genesis's research focuses on the political and racial dimensions of the Dominican Republic in the build-up to the Dominican Revolutionary period (1961-1965). Her project traces the story of the Revolution through the voices of Dominicans on the island and within a Dominican exile network, both of which garnered international support. Furthermore, it tells the complicated story of the Dominican Republic trying to define a future in the aftermath of the thirty-one year dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, the looming presence of the United States in the Caribbean, and the formation of the Dominican diaspora.

In the short time that Genesis has been a part of our program, she has been awarded numerous fellowships, including the UC Consortium for Black Studies in California Fellowship, the CUNY Dominican Institute Fellowship, and the Tinker Foundation Summer Field Research Award. Currently, she is working on completing her second year research project entitled, "The Stakes of Caribbean Freedom: The Dominican Revolution and the Caribbean."