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History faculty in the news

Check out Professor Baki Tezcan's Op-Ed in the LA Times

Professor Tezcan comments on Kurdish oppression amidst Turkey's cease-fire in Syria for the LA Times.

Professor Kathy Olmsted chronicles Robert Arneson's Anti-Nuke Art for New York Exhibit

Professor Olmsted has written an essay in a newly published catalog for New York’s George Adams Gallery exhibition of Arneson’s work. Robert Arneson/The Anti-War Works: 1982-1986 is on view at the Manhattan gallery through Oct. 26.

Read Professor Greg Downs' analysis of the impeachment inquiry

Professor Greg Downs offers his take on the impeachment inquiry for the Washington Post:

"Impeachment is the right call even if the Senate keeps President Trump in office: Awaiting a Senate trial might curtail Trump’s worst behaviors." https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/10/07/impeachment-is-right-call-even-if-senate-keeps-president-trump-office/?fbclid=IwAR37mjdsEOjiYZVMGLOoUwRJbEk-neBpGgGQiNvi9TJEu2VF4_ivVQoWQbk

Professor Chuck Walker featured on Al Jazeera Media View

In this interview, Professor Walker provides context for the political crisis unfolding in Perú this week:

New York Times Op-Ed by Professor Kathy Olmsted

Check out Professor Olmsted’s piece, “Impeaching Trump Will Be Harder Than Impeaching Nixon” published in the October 2, 2019 edition of the New York Times:

Professor Olmsted hosts podcast series "States of Conspiracy"

Delve into popular conspiracy theories this month with a new podcast from Kathryn Olmsted, professor of history in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

Olmsted has launched a four-episode “State of Conspiracy” series on the site Crooked Media. In her first podcast, Olmsted talks with Anna Merlan, a journalist for Jezebel and other sites and author of the book Republic of Lies, about how Donald Trump successfully used conspiracy theories to gain national attention and get elected, and why the surge in government conspiracy theories today is no joke.

Other episodes will follow each Wednesday in September:

  • September 11, Kevin Kruse, a professor of history at Princeton University known for his Twitter threads about U.S. history, will talk about the historical context for the rise in conspiracism.
  • September 18,  Jon Ronson, journalist, documentary filmmaker and an author of several books, including Men Who Stare at Goats, Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Elephant in the Room: A Journey into the Trump Campaign and the “Alt-Right."
  • September 25, guest to be determined.

Olmsted said Crooked Media, a political media site best known for its Pod Save America episodes, contacted her and invited her to do a monthlong Crooked Mini podcast series.

“Are lizard people real? Was 9/11 an inside job? Is the government really out to get you? We can’t conclusively answer those questions, but we will be exploring these topics in September’s series, State of Conspiracy,” says the online intro to her podcasts.

Olmsted is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 and other books. She teaches a popular undergraduate course, “Politics and Paranoia: Conspiracy Theories in 20th Century America.”

Professor Howard Chiang's book, After Eunuchs, wins International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) Book Prize!

Howard Chiang's book, After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China (Columbia University Press, 2018) was awarded the 2019 Humanities IBP (ICAS Book Prize) at the opening ceremony of the Asian Studies conference in Leiden. The ICAS announced all winners on its website: https://icas.asia/en/shortlist-and-winner-humanities-ibp2019 Leiden University, where the Asian Studies conference was held, also featured a story about the IBS winner and short list books here: https://www.library.universiteitleiden.nl/news/2019/07/icas-book-prize-awarded-at-opening-ceremony-of-the-asian-studies-conference-in-leiden

Information about ICAS Book Prize from the ICAS website:

The prestigious ICAS Book Prize (IBP) was established in 2004. It aims to create an international focus for academic publications on Asia, thus increasing their worldwide visibility. The biennial ICAS Book Prize is awarded for outstanding English-language works and dissertations on Asia, and has always been organised around broad interdisciplinary bases (Social Sciences and Humanities) rather than traditional geographic or disciplinary compartmentalisations.

Starting in 2017, so as to reflect ICAS’ decentralising approach, the IBP now also honours publications in ChineseFrenchGermanKorean, Portugueseand Spanish(in addition to the original English Edition). Other language editions are due to follow.

Since its inception, the IBP has grown from an experiment with 50 books and 5 dissertations to a prestious prize with more than 400 publications submitted by 60 publishers worldwide and 150 dissertations. In 2013, a new category of prizes was added: The Reading Committee Accolades. This gives the Reading Committees the opportunity to single out and give credit to more outstanding books and dissertations. In 2007, the Colleagues' Choice Award was established. This award is determined by the public, who cast their votes online through the IBP Polling Booth.

Our current IBP organisers and sponsors are: 
ChineseEdition: NYU Shanghai
FrenchEdition: GIS Asie
GermanEdition: Max Weber Stiftung – Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland (MWS)
KoreanEdition: Seoul National University Asia Center (SNUAC)
PortugueseSpanishEditions: Sephis

Together with the Asian Library/Leiden University (English Edition), the IBP is now shouldered by six institutions in Asia and Europe.

Contact:  ibp@iias.nl

Paul van der Velde (IBP General Secretary)
Sonja Zweegers (IBP-English Secretary)

See all of the works in the Humanities (English Edition) being recognized here: https://icas.asia/en/ibp-longlist-en-hum



Professor Ari Kelman wins the Guggenheim Fellowship!

From the Press Release on April 10, 2019: 2019 Fellows—United States and Canada On April 9, 2019, the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding of Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of 168 scholars, artists, and writers. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s ninety-fifth competition.


The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study, and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is one of the unique characteristics of the Fellowship program. In all, forty-nine scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, seventy-five different academic institutions, twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces are represented in this year’s class of Fellows, who range in age from twenty-nine to eighty-five. Forty-nine Fellows have no academic affiliation or hold adjunct or part-time positions.
Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, is enthusiastic about the Fellows in the class of 2019: “It’s exceptionally satisfying to name 168 new Guggenheim Fellows. These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”
Since its establishment in 1925, the Foundation has granted more than $360 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, National Book Award, and other significant, internationally recognized honors.

The Guggenheim Fellowship program remains a significant source of support for artists, writers, and scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers. New and continuing donations from friends, Trustees, former Fellows, and other foundations have ensured that the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation will be able to continue to carry out its historic mission.

For more information on the Fellows and their projects, please visit the Foundation’s website at http://www.gf.org. 

Here is the full list of recipients:guggenheim 2019

Professor Jean-Baptiste wins Chancellor's Award for International Engagement

Congratulations to Professor Rachel Jean-Baptiste on receiving the UC Davis Chancellor's Award for International Engagement.

Professor Jean-Baptiste received the honor due to her global approach to research, teaching, and service.Her reseach focuses on the history of race, marriage, family, and colonialism in Africa and global contexts. In her teaching, Jean-Baptiste emphasizes how world regions are interconnected. Her courses enable students to learn from and engage with materials from all over the world—and her versatile teaching style weaves in real-life challenges and solutions in global settings. 

Jean-Baptiste’s international engagement is particularly evident in her dedicated service for the past two years as faculty director for the UC Education Abroad Program’s (UCEAP) Study Center in France. Responsible for the academics of 300 UC students across four French universities in this role, she is a tireless advocate for the academic and personal growth of students during such a momentous time in their lives.

Read more about Jean-Baptiste's commitment toward the campus' Global Education for All at https://globalaffairs.ucdavis.edu/chancellor-awards/2018-19-honorees?fbclid=IwAR1q8SmM9YjAugd2n26YaAQ-qrP8qJSsUpQdiGg0w-vPwx9IgrYwPUcCmVI

Professor Decker receives Global Affairs Seed Grant

Professor Corrie Decker has been awarded a UC Davis Global Affairs Seed Grant for International Activities to conduct oral history workshops in Uganda.

Decker will conduct workshops on oral history methodology with students at Stawa University in Kampala, Uganda this summer. While there, she will also carry out research for a project on the history of youth in Uganda. 



Prof. Sudipta Sen's new book on the Ganges making a splash in the media!

Professor Sudipta Sen's new book, Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River (Yale University Press, 2019), has made a big splash in the media since it came out in January. Click here for links to the reviews and more.

Professor Sudipta Sen's new book, Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River (Yale University Press, 2019), has made a big splash in newspapers and radio since it came out in January. Check out the reviews:

The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/unruly-waters-and-ganges-review-in-india-water-is-politics-11546641300

New York Journal of Books: https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/ganges-many

Science: http://blogs.sciencemag.org/books/2019/01/14/ganges/

LA Times: https://www.latimes.com/books/la-ca-jc-sudipta-sen-ganges-review-20190124-story.html

You can also listen to an interview with Prof. Sen about his book on Krys Boyd's show Think, broadcast by Dallas' NPR station, from February 12, 2019: http://think.kera.org/2019/02/12/595985/

Ganges is available for purchase from Yale University Press: https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300119169/ganges.

Professor Chiang wins the Yu Ying-shih Award in Humanities Research

Professor Chiang won the Yu Ying-shih Award in Humanities Research (Monographic Book Category) to write his next book on the history of Chinese psychoanalysis and transcultural psychiatry.

The Tang Prize foundation (est. 2012) tasked the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica in Taiwan to administer the annual prize competition.  In 2014, Yu Ying-shih was the inaugural recipient of the highly prestigious Tang Prize in Sinology, and he donated NT$10 million of his cash prize to establish the Yu Ying-shih Award for junior scholars in Sinology (3 book awards and 3 dissertation awards each year).  For more info on the award, see: http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aedu/201508230021.aspx.  The 2018 prize winners were announced on Nov. 30 on the Institute of History and Philology's website: http://www2.ihp.sinica.edu.tw/bulletinDetail.php?TM=1&M=1&C=&bid=1307

Department of History's Statement of Values

This campus and others have periodically been the target of hateful posters and other media designed to incite fear and loathing of various groups of people. Recent incidents have attempted to encourage anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, and anti-African-American hatred, among others. As historians, we are all familiar with the frightful history of this type of dehumanizing rhetoric, and aware of its devastating cost to the communities in which it is mobilized and tolerated.


In light of that history, everyone should be aware that those who advocate hatred of others make themselves open supporters of policies and actions that are disastrous for the entire human community—systematic discrimination, contempt for the law, chaotic civil violence, the destruction of democracy, tyranny, global war, and mass murder.

The open expression of vicious lies and fake fears regarding any group is incompatible with the constitutional order of our state and country, and with the fundamental values of our democratic society. Because of the catastrophic history of such rhetoric in our country and around the world, we urge the entire campus community to remain actively true to UC Davis' Principles of Community, and to the essential democratic civic virtues of truthfulness, mutual respect, and civic solidarity.  We urge the entire campus community to reject inwardly, and denounce openly, those who are attempting to tear our country apart and to sow hatred and lust for violence among us. 

The defense of democracy and of civil order requires of us more than passive civility or tolerance.  It requires that we actively denounce and resist the erosion of the values fundamental to the freedom and to the law and order that we cherish, and on which the lives and liberties of all of us ultimately depend.

Professor Cynthia Brantley, 1943-2018

The Department of History mourns the passing of Dr. Cynthia Brantley, Emerita professor of African history and friend to many at the university.

Professor Brantley was the first female professor and first Africanist historian in the department. As a trailblazer, she wore many hats when she arrived at Davis in 1972. She designed and taught the first undergraduate course on American women’s history, which regularly attracted 100 students or more. She used her own resources to create a course reading list because there were no textbooks available at the time. The introduction of women’s history set the stage for the department’s Women’s and Gender History (originally Cross-Cultural Women’s History) research cluster and graduate minor (http://history.ucdavis.edu/affiliates/womens-and-gender-history). As one of the few women faculty on campus, Professor Brantley served on dozens of committees when she arrived, and her service to the university resulted in the creation of the Women’s Resource Center (https://wrrc.ucdavis.edu/).

 Professor Brantley’s contributions to African history are equally impressive. Among her many publications are two influential monographs, The Giriama and Colonial Resistance in Kenya, 1800-1920 (UC Press, 1981) and Feeding Families: African Realities and British Ideas of Nutrition and Development in Early Colonial Africa (Heinemann, 2002). Professor Brantley launched the African history program at UC Davis, designing the first undergraduate courses in the field and mentoring the inaugural cohort of African history graduate students.

A respected scholar, generous colleague, and devoted mentor, Cynthia Brantley will be missed enormously.

Cynthia Brantley is survived by her partner of 36 years, Nancy Peden, her sister Betty Sue Norton (Donald), nephews and great-nephews and nieces. A celebration of Professor Brantley’s life will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Stonegate Country Club, 919 Lake Blvd. in Davis.

Donations in Cynthia Brantley’s memory may be given to the University of San Francisco Memory and Aging Center, the Davis Community Meals & Housing H Street Shelter, or a charity of your choice.

For a full obituary, see the Davis Enterprise: https://www.davisenterprise.com/obits/cynthia-louise-brantley/.

Professor Ari Kelman receives Graduate Mentoring Award

Professor Ari Kelman has been awarded a Graduate Studies Distinguished Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentoring Award. He will be formally honored at the Graduate Studies Honors and Awards Ceremony, Wednesday, May 23, 4pm-6pm at the ARC Ballroom.

Greg Downs elected to the Society of American Historians

Professor Greg Downs was elected to the Society of American Historians in recognition of the literary and scholarly distinction of his historical writing.

The Society of American Historians was founded in 1939 by the historian and journalist Allan Nevins to promote literary excellence in the writing or presentation of history. Membership is by invitation only; among our current fellows are scholars, journalists, independent historians, essayists, biographers, novelists, filmmakers, curators, and poets working in many different genres on topics that deal in whole or in part with American history. For more information, go to https://sah.columbia.edu/.

UCD History Department awarded AHA Career Diversity Implementation Grant

The UCD Department of History has been chosen as a recipient of the American Historical Association's 2018–20 Career Diversity Implementation Grants, part of the Career Diversity for Historians initiative.

Louis Warren wins Bancroft Prize

Louis Warren, the W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of U.S. Western History at UC Davis, was named winner of a 2018 Bancroft Prize for his book, "God's Red Son: The Ghost Dance Religion and the Making of Modern America."

Warren is the second UC Davis author in two years, and the third in five years, to receive the prestigious American history prize. Last year, his colleague Andrés Reséndez won for The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America. Ari Kelman won in 2014 for A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, about the Colorado site of an 1864 massacre of Cheyennes and Arapahos.

God’s Red Son (Basic Books, 2017), one of three winners this year, offers a new view of the iconic Ghost Dance religion that led to the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.That year on Indian reservations across the West, followers of the new religion danced in circles until they collapsed into trances. In an attempt to suppress this new faith, the U.S. Army killed more than 200 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek.

The Ghost Dance has been viewed by many historians as a failed effort by Indian militants to resist American conquest and return to traditional ways. Warren makes the case that the Ghost Dance helped Indians retain their identity and reshape the modern world.Portrait photo of UC Davis historian Louis Warren

The Bancroft Prize, established in 1948 by the trustees of Columbia University with a bequest from the historian Frederic Bancroft, includes an award of $10,000.

Columbia Provost John Coatsworth will present the awards at a dinner next month.

Edward Dickinson, professor and chair of the Department of History, said three faculty members winning the prize in five years is "a further testament to the intellectual and scholarly dynamism of our department."

This is the fourth time overall that department faculty have received a Bancroft Prize, beginning in 1996 when Alan S. Taylor won for William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic. The book also won Taylor the first of his two Pulitzer Prizes. He taught at UC Davis from 1994 to 2014. 

Chuck Walker awarded ACLS Fellowship

Professor Chuck Walker has been awarded the American Council of Learned Societies fellowship for next year for his research on the history of the Sendero Luminoso in Peru.

Greg Downs wins Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award

Professor Greg Downs has been awarded UCD Academic Senate's Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award, which honors "exceptional faculty who continue the tradition and demonstrate the commitment of the Davis campus to public service.”

Historian Gregory Downs has been awarded a 2018 UC Davis Academic Senate's Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award for his leadership in establishing the nation’s first monument to Reconstruction.

The January 2017 designation of the new monument in the historic Sea Islands region of Beaufort County, South Carolina, followed nearly four years of efforts by Downs and other experts on the post-Civil War era.

In nominating Downs for the award, fellow UC Davis history professor Eric Rauchway said his colleague’s devotion to setting the record straight on Reconstruction led to “an accomplishment of value to the public that few of us will ever match.”

Downs has devoted much of his career to educating the public about a widely misunderstood period in U.S. history—writing books, articles and an interactive website about the "forgotten second founding of the nation.”

He co-wrote the National Park Service’s Theme Study on Reconstruction, helped edit the Park Service’s handbook on Reconstruction and helped identify appropriate sites for a monument.

When President Barack Obama, during his last week in office, proclaimed the new monument to Reconstruction, he echoed Downs’ words—saying that the era “was in many ways the nation’s second founding, as Americans abolished slavery and struggled earnestly, if not always successfully, to build a nation of free and equal citizens.”

The Academic Senate award, given annually, honors "exceptional faculty who continue the tradition and demonstrate the commitment of the Davis campus to public service.”

Louis Warren wins R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellowship

Professor Louis Warren was awarded the R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellowship in the Humanities at the Huntington Library.

Rachel St. John awarded Huntington Library fellowship

Associate Professor Rachel St. John won a year-long fellowship at the Huntington Library.

Cecilia Tsu wins ACLS fellowship

Associate Professor Cecilia Tsu was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

Omnia El Shakry wins both Stanford Humanities Center fellowship and UC Davis Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship

Professor Omnia El Shakry has been awarded both the Stanford Humanities Center fellowship and the UC Davis Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship for next year to support her research on the encounter between Catholicism and Islam in twentieth-century Egypt.

Howard Chiang wins ISS Junior Faculty Research Grant

Assistant Professor Howard Chiang has been awarded the Institute for Social Sciences Junior Faculty Research Grant for his project on "The Cultural Revolution of the Unconscious."

Ian Campbell wins American Councils Research Fellowship

Associate Professor Ian Campbell has been awarded an Advanced Research Fellowship from the American Councils Title VIII Research Scholar Program. This fellowship will support a full academic year of research in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2018-19 for Campbell's second book project, The Bleeding Edges: Borderlands Violence and Russia's Enduring Empire, 1800-1917, a study of the culture and practice of counterinsurgency around multiple peripheries of the Russian Empire.

Lorena Oropeza Wins Equity Prize

Associate Professor Lorena Oropeza was awarded the 2017 Equity Award from the American Historical Association for excellence in recruiting and retaining historians from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Diversity has long been a challenge in the history profession. According to the AHA, the nation’s largest professional group of historians, African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, but only 5 percent of all history faculty nationwide; Latinos, who make up roughly 14.5 percent of the population, represent only 3 percent of history faculty. The Equity Award was established in 1996 to promote diversity.

The even lower representation of Chicana historians impressed Oropeza during her doctoral studies at Cornell University in the early 1990s. She heard a talk by Vicki Ruiz, a noted Chicano/a historian who taught at UC Davis from 1985-92 and who is now a distinguished professor at UC Irvine, and had the opportunity to meet her. Ruiz greeted her by saying, “‘Good to meet you. You’re No. 13.’” Oropeza was confused until Ruiz explained: “She said that I was the 13th Mexican American woman in the nation to get a Ph.D. in history,” recalled Oropeza. “That was a few years ago, but there’s not that many of us.”

Inspiring Mentor

A UC Davis faculty member since 1996, Oropeza has made an impact by mentoring her graduate students. She meets with these young scholars regularly to share and discuss their research—a group that some of her students have dubbed "Team Lorena" and that Oropeza calls their “mutual sounding board support team.” She believes that preparing students for life with a Ph.D. is essential, especially in a changing economy.

“The best thing about working with Lorena is that she makes it [the study environment] home,” said Genesis Lara, a Ph.D. student and a member of “Team Lorena.” “It’s just such a great feeling to know you always have a support system for you. [She] always believes in you and wants you to be the best that you can, and I think that just makes all the difference.”

Graduate student Griselda Wille said, “Lorena was the mentor that I was looking for. When I think about what I wanted from graduate school, Lorena is what I imagined, and I latched myself onto her for dear life.”

Second Diversity Award

Oropeza will officially receive the Equity Award on January 4, 2018, at the American Historical Society’s Annual meeting in Washington, DC. The Equity Award comes on the heels of the Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community, which she received in February 2017. She was surprised and honored by both awards, and she admits that she’d rather stay out of the limelight and focus instead on research, teaching, and mentoring.

“To be recognized . . . is really gratifying. I never think of what I do as unusual but evidently some other people did,” she said. “I’m honored by both awards, but I see it as just the work that I do.”

A Journalist Turned Historian

Oropeza’s experiences as a journalist in Arizona and Florida inform her research and remind her of the importance of equity in the field of history. “As a reporter,” she said, “the question was, ‘How do you make the newsroom reflect the city?’ Journalists miss important stories if they don’t have a connection to the whole city and all of its manifestations.

 “Who sets up the [historical] archive and what voices are included? If you’re only looking at it from one perspective or if you don’t have a bunch of diverse people in it, you might be missing stuff.”

A More Inclusive View of U.S. History

Oropeza has been fascinated by the intersection between race and foreign policy since her days studying American foreign policy in graduate school. Much like news reports, her research uses oral history in addition to available written documents. Oral history taps the memories of people who participated in or witnessed historical events—providing a way to include previously silenced voices. “Oral history is transmitted through memory and time and therefore can be viewed as a little less trustworthy,” she said. “But in some cases, that might be the only source you have. So to me, oral history research is deeply tied to a larger equity project.”

For her, this larger project is integrating Chicano/a history into the broader narrative of American history, particularly in the 1960s. Her forthcoming book, The King of Adobe: Reies López Tijerina, examines the leader of a Chicano resistance movement called the Alianza in New Mexico in the '60s. She describes the Alianza as an anticolonial movement, since its members sought to reclaim the land that had been taken from their ancestors by Americans following the war between the U.S. and Mexico in the 1840s. Race and foreign policy was also the subject of her first book was Raza Sí!, Guerra No! Chicano Protest and Patriotism During the Vietnam War Era, which was published in 2005.

At UC Davis, she regularly teaches “The History of the United States” from the Civil War through the Cold War (HIS 17B), “Mexican American History” (HIS 169A/B), and co-teaches “History of the United States in the Middle East” (HIS 80) with her colleague Baki Tezcan.

— Noah Pflueger-Peters (B.A., English, ’17) 




'The Other Slavery' Wins California Book Award

Prize is Latest Honor for History of Native American Enslavement

UC Davis professor of history Andrés Reséndez accepted a California Book Award on Monday, June 12, for The Other Slavery, the latest in a series of honors for his history of Native American enslavement.

The Commonwealth Club cited Reséndez’s “groundbreaking scholarship” in awarding him a gold medal in nonfiction in its 86th annual California Book Awards.

The Other Slavery, which tells the story of the enslavement of millions of Native Americans over four centuries, also won a 2017 Bancroft Prize and was named a 2016 National Book Award finalist.

The California Book Awards, one of the nation’s oldest literary awards, honors exceptional literary merit of California writers and publishers. (This year’s fiction gold medal went to Michael Chabon for Moonglow.) Watch a video of the ceremony.

Julia Flynn Siler, a journalist and author who was a juror in the nonfiction category, said the story of Native American enslavement had been largely untold before the publication of The Other Slavery.

“From their earliest encounters with the North American continent, conquistadors and missionaries kidnapped and enslaved native peoples, forcing them into harsh labors that helped build the new world,” Siler said at Monday’s award ceremony. “This native slavery continued under various guises for centuries.

“The practice of slave taking and trading among tribal peoples themselves has been obscured,” she said. “Understanding it requires to not only understand racial prejudice but even more generalized attitudes towards the value of other peoples’ lives. Andrés Reséndez has illuminated a vital dimension in the annals of American historical and moral knowledge.”

Giving Voice to the Enslaved

Reséndez said his book built on the insights of many other historians. “It is a humbling experience to be here,” he said. “The act of writing history may seem lonely, but it's always the result of a group effort.”

He dedicated his award to his family—children Samuel and Vera, his mother, a brother and his wife, economist Jaana Remes. 

“All along when I was writing this book, I kept thinking about the literally millions of Native Americans who lived out their entire lives as slaves,” Reséndez said. “Their subjugation was so complete that their condition has been largely erased from the historical record. An award like this makes their voices finally heard.”

This year’s award ceremony in San Francisco also included a special tribute to Kevin Starr, California historian and former state librarian who died in January.

Past UC Davis winners

Reséndez may be just the second UC Davis author to win in the nonfiction category. His former history department colleague Alan S. Taylor won a gold medal in 2001 for American Colonies.

Other faculty winners hailed from the English department. Winners of California Book Awards for poetry include: Celeste Turner Wright, for A Sense of Place, 1973; Karl Shapiro, for Adult Bookstore, 1976; Gary Snyder, Left Out in the Rain, 1986.

Snyder also shared awards with letterpress artist Tom Killion for notable contribution to publishing for The High Sierra of California, 2002 (silver), and in the Californiana category for California’s Wild Edge, 2015 (gold).

The Literature of California, Vol. 1: Native American Beginnings to 1945, edited by Jack Hicks, won silver for Californiana in 2000.

Yiyun Li won a silver medal for first fiction for A Thousand Years of Good Prayer, 2005, and a gold medal for fiction for The Vagrants, 2009.

Alumni winners include:

  • David “Mas” Masumoto (M.S., community development, ’82) for Californiana for Harvest Son: Planting Roots in American Soil, 1998 (silver);
  • Karen Joy Fowler (M.A., political science, ’74) for fiction, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, 2013 (gold).

Read An Interview HERE through the National Book Foundation. 

Resendez Wins Bancroft Prize for 'The Other Slavery'

A landmark history by Professor Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, is the winner of a 2017 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy.

The Other Slavery was one of three winners announced March 14 by Columbia University. Reséndez's book was also named a finalist last fall for the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

The Other Slavery tells the sweeping story of the enslavement of tens of thousands of Native Americans, from the time of the conquistadors through the early 20th century. Reséndez builds a case that enslavement was more responsible than epidemics for the decimation of native populations across North America.

"Receiving the Bancroft Prize is an incredible honor," Reséndez said. "I am humbled by the notable historians who have gotten it over the years going back to 1948; and I am especially fond of the fact that our former colleague Alan S. Taylor and our current colleague Ari Kelman have gotten it."

Kelman won in 2014 for A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, about the Colorado site of an 1864 massacre of Cheyennes and Arapahos.

Taylor won in 1996 for William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic. The book also won Taylor the first of his two Pulitzer Prizes. He taught at UC Davis from 1994 to 2014. 

Bancroft Prize winners are judged in terms of the scope, significance, depth of research, and richness of interpretation they present in the areas of American history and diplomacy. There were 239 books submitted for consideration for the 2017 prize.

The other 2017 Bancroft Prize winning books were Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson, and Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients into Consumers by Nancy Tomes.

Columbia Provost John H. Coatsworth will present the awards at the Bancroft Prize dinner next month. The Bancroft Prize includes an award of $10,000 to each author.

'Time' Article Spotlights Olmsted

Historian Kathryn Olmsted is one of three professors nationwide quoted in a Dec. 15 article on the growing relevance of courses on conspiracy theories.

Olmsted told Time that teaching her course this fall during the 2016 presidential election was an “entirely different experience” than when she last taught it four years ago.

“It seemed like the stakes were higher,” Olmsted said in the Time magazine article, "How Donald Trump Changed the Way College Students Learn About Conspiracy Theories."

“I was more stressed because I did not want to be perceived as partisan," she said. "On the other hand, it was clear that these political events were directly relevant to what we were talking about in the classroom.”

The article also quoted student Sierra Shidner. 

Read the article