Written by Olivia Wilkinson
During June and part of July 2022, I studied through one of the UO’s GEO study away programs, African Diaspora Studies in New Orleans & Ghana. The program was led by Dr. Yvette Alex-Assensoh, Vice President for Equity & Inclusion, and Dr. Akwasi B. Assensoh, Professor of history. The aim of the program is to build connections within the diaspora as well as offer students a chance to learn about diaspora studies in predominantly Black and African communities.
Dr. Yvette Alex-Assensoh taught the LACE framework as a way for us to build connections within ourselves, amongst members of the study away group, and finally to the wider world. LACE stands for Love, Authenticity, Courage, and Empathy. It was a unique way to learn through fully experiencing culture while feeling the lingering effects of the history that surrounded us.
We started in New Orleans, where we stayed at Xavier University, an HBCU (historically Black college/university) located in the heart of the city. We stayed for a week, then traveled to Accra, Ghana where we stayed for two weeks. Over the course of three weeks, we traveled through the history of rich culture in Louisiana and Ghana and examined how these two places are connected.
Beyond using the LACE framework to enhance our learning, I personally saw evidence of this framework in the people and places I visited in New Orleans and Ghana. One of those places was Congo Square, located in Armstrong Park in New Orleans. Enslaved people were stripped of the culture they knew and yet still expressed themselves through music and dance. They were courageous in the way they left clues for future generations in the architecture of New Orleans. They were also courageous when some ran from their enslavers, such as from plantations like the Whitney Plantation, which we visited as part of the study away program. Their acts of defiance, big and small, were all significant. Empathy was present in the ways they came together for one another beyond music and dancing in Congo Square. They found kinship in one another regardless of family and heritage because of the shared traumas of slavery.
In New Orleans, Congo Square still stands as a sacred place with centuries of shared trauma and authentic expression. The New Orleans African American Museum showcasing African American art in Tremé tells a similar story of trauma, but emphasizes the beauty and talent of modern Black artists in New Orleans. Gentrification has drastically changed the city and erased some of the Black culture, but the culture that is left is unique, authentic, and loving.
We then traveled to Accra, Ghana. The culture we experienced in Ghana was unique, yet in many ways reminiscent of New Orleans. Everywhere there was an abundance of vibrant clothing and spicy food. There is a rich culture of music and dancing that can be heard every night. The people we met in Ghana were friendly, accommodating, and community-oriented. There is a strong emphasis on family in Ghanaian daily life as well as dignity and respect for elders. We learned that in Ghanaian culture, the whole takes precedence over the individual, which informs how people conduct themselves in social situations as well as how they participate politically.
We visited sites such as the Ancestral Wall, Elmina Castle, Cape Coast Castle, and the Assin Manso Slave River. We learned about the history of the transport of enslaved people from Senegambia in the West, nearby Benin, and Congo to the southwest, through Ghana, and out to the Americas.
At the Ancestral Wall, the painted portraits that lined the wall represented a desire to know our collective history, and to especially honor how powerful the African Diaspora has been worldwide since before recorded history. We saw fascinating portraits of people from at least as far back as ancient Egypt, all the way to the present day.
At the coastal castles where the Spanish, the British, and the Dutch kept Africans captive after buying them inland, the history is imposing and not for the faint of heart. We spent time reflecting within the walls of Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle where the dungeon floors are smooth from the countless people who were kept against their will. We saw schoolchildren during our tours and learned that it recently became part of the national curriculum to teach children about Ghana’s history in the Transatlantic Trade. We learned that as part of this reckoning, a new plaque was made above the infamous Door of No Return that says “Door of Return.” This works as a way for visitors all around the world to understand the importance of acknowledging the past and moving forward toward a better future.
Slavery in the colonial era created troubling connections between the Southern United States and West Africa, but over time, the connection grew from the culture that was involuntarily transferred. The influences of West Africa are everywhere in New Orleans, from the invention of jazz to the uniquely Black Hoodoo traditions that were developed during slavery. It’s in everything.
The common thread: Love existed everywhere.
Olivia Wilkinson is a senior majoring in history and folklore and currently works in special collections in preparation for graduate school in archival studies. Some of her favorite topics in history to study include the US in the 1960s, indigenous North American history, and popular music history.
History is recorded and recounted in many ways, even in the classroom.
Duncan Baumgarten, a comics and cartoon studies minor, used a creative approach to a recent course on the USSR and Contemporary Russia. Baumgarten wrote and illustrated a zine, Queer Life in Russia: A Historical Primer, which provides an overview of queer history from tsarist Russia all the way up to current events with the war in Ukraine.
It has been called criminal mischief.
It has been called sluggishly manifesting schizophrenia.
It has been called Western decadence.
It has been silenced, punished, killed, and minimized.
But, from the bathhouses to the Gulags to the streets and online, queerness in Russia has historically endured, and will continue to do so.
The entire zine is available to read on this website, linked below.
“I embarked on the project out of sheer curiosity, aware that many general histories don’t include the experiences of queer people. The work Professor Hessler and I did was intended to not only educate myself on the history of queer people in the Soviet Union, but also, gradually, to figure out how to share that knowledge with others. Queer history is a special subject because it’s not only consistently unexplored, but it’s also a shared history in a way that many underrepresented groups experience. The experiences of those in the Gulags belong in the historical canon for queer people today to learn and contemplate. To document it and share it means so much to me as a historian and as an artist and creating a zine that synthesizes my term’s work—particularly finishing the class during Pride month—is exciting and extremely gratifying.”
Use the link above to read the complete zine online. Or download a PDF version.
Written by April Winz • April 27, 2022
The University of Oregon Department of History is delighted to announce its new Undergraduate Advisory Committee composed of five students—Julie Whitehill, Olivia Wilkinson, Isaac Kim, Tyler Mahan White, and Juan Ochoa.
The committee was established to foster more community between both the department and its students, and among the students themselves. “I felt that students in the history department have not been very well connected, and I want to work on ways we can change that,” Olivia Wilkinson said. The committee plans on creating things like newsletters and social events for students to cultivate connection.
They also look forward to contributing student perspectives to influence the future of the department. “I think this committee will serve as a great opportunity for undergraduates to have a voice in the matters relating to the History Department and help to make the community a better place,” said Isaac Kim.
Tyler White hopes to give a voice to the non-traditional student demographic. Since leaving the army to pursue a degree in history, he notes that joining the committee has been a fantastic opportunity to help his peers. “The committee is dedicated to contextualizing the way intersecting aspects of identity affect a student’s ability to receive a worthwhile historical education,” he said. “There is an emphasis on inclusion and awareness of student diversity in general, and a specific desire to ensure that the History Department continues to accommodate students from all walks of life.” The committee will also be working closely with the History Department Diversity Committee to further support students.
April Winz is a communications specialist for the History Department and General Social Sciences Program at the University of Oregon.
Congratulations go out to Michele Pflug, who won the Gwin J. and Ruth Kolb Research Travel Fellowship from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.
The ASECS seeks to advance the study of the eighteenth century through endowed travel and research funds. The Gwin J. and Ruth Kolb fund is awarded to early career scholars of the eighteenth century to support their access to research collections.
Michele Pflug is a PhD student in the UO Department of History. Her studies focus on the history of science, women and gender, and the the history of the book.
On July 29, 2021, Alaska experienced a magnitude 8.2 earthquake, deemed the largest earthquake to hit the state since 1965. In a stroke of strange luck, University of Oregon doctoral student Spencer Abbe was in the region at the time studying—you guessed it: earthquakes.
Spencer Abbe has spent the last year researching the history of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions in the North Pacific, specifically the relationship between humans and these natural phenomena. During the July 29 earthquake, Abbe was in Kodiak, Alaska to learn more about significant earthquake events.
Learn more about Abbe’s research and his experience in an interview with Kodiak Public Broadcasting.
HIST 407/507 Virtual Conference
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
A series of virtual presentations on undergraduate and graduate student research. All are welcome to attend. Join for either the entire conference or come and go. See schedule below.
Join conference: Zoom
3:30–4:20 PM, People Across Borders
Nikolai Perepelitza, “Managing Migration: The Italian General Commissariat of Emigration”
David Lerma, “Argentina’s Bicycle History: Through Italian Migration”
Odalis Aguilar-Aguilar, “Remembering Braceros and their contributions: How communal memory uncovers truth”
4:25–5:20 PM, Politics Across Borders
Will Blake, “Assessing Cold-War Democracy: Japan, The U.S., and the New York Herald Tribune World Youth Forum, 1952–1972”
Dalton Dodson, “Scandinavian Settlement Abroad: Earldom and Influence in the Northeastern Atlantic”
Veronica Jones, “Negotiating Removal Treaties: ‘Civilization’ in Conflict”
Andrew Vitt, “The Perspective of South Africa’s Apartheid in US media”
5:25–6:20 PM, Cultures Across Borders
Sam McClelland, “Cultural Difference in the Republic of Letters: Considering the Practice of the Alba Amicorum”
Mads Phythyon Miller, “Heathens, Witches, and Queers, Oh, My! A History of Trans and Queer Neopagan Subcultures in the 21st Century”
Ally Anderson, “Gender and Domestic Violence in Mexico between the 1910s to the 1920s”
Jason Ashcraft, “Extended Play: Challenging the Periodization of the “British Invasion” While Examining Cross-Class Relations in the United States”
The HIST 407/507 Crossing Borders course is a senior/graduate research seminar designed to guide students through the process of writing an original research paper on any topic from any part of the world that incorporates the histories of more than one country or cultural group.
For questions, contact Professor Julie Weise at email@example.com
History major Odalis Aguilar-Aguilar met with the Oregon House Committee on Business and Labor on March 29, 2021 to give a historically informed testimony in support of a new farmworkers’ rights bill. House Bill 2358 prohibits employers from permitting or requiring agricultural workers to work in excess of 40 hours in one workweek unless workers are compensated for overtime hours worked.
Odalis Aguilar-Aguilar is a third-year student at the UO, majoring in history, Latin American studies, and Spanish. Her testimony touches on her own family’s experience with agricultural work and also draws Aguilar-Aguilar’s academic research. Working with Julie Weise, associate professor of history, Aguilar-Aguilar has studied the Bracero farm worker program and the personal histories of migrant families.
Learn more about Aguilar-Aguilar’s work in this Around the O feature, Untold Stories.
Congratulations go out to Madelyn Brown, graduate student in the Department of History, who has been awarded the Incentive Grant under the Nisga’a Post Secondary Education Assistance Program.
This grant was awarded in recognition of Brown’s academic excellence in her post-secondary studies.
Madelyn Brown (Nisg̱a’a/Tsimshian) is a graduate student at the University of Oregon; she is currently earning her MA in history. Her research interests focus on Traditional Indigenous Knowledge systems and their historical influence on ecological-care techniques utilized by Pacific Northwest tribal communities. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History with an emphasis in American Indian Studies and Anthropology (summa cum laude).
Congratulations to history graduate student Erik Glowark for winning the 2020 World History Association Dissertation Prize with his research, “The Christianization of Kyushu: A World-Historical Interpretation of the Jesuit Mission to Japan, 1549–1650.”
Every year, the WHA awards this prize to the best doctoral dissertation in world, global, or transnational history. Glowark’s research focuses on the history of Early Modern Japan, religion, and Christianity.
As Native students and people of color have argued and historical records confirm, the 1919 Pioneer (toppled on June 13, 2020 by parties unknown) was meant from its creation as a celebration of violent white supremacy.
PhD candidate Marc Carpenter has researched and talked about the monument for the past two years, uncovering the sordid history of The Pioneer as part of his broader research into the memory, commemoration, and erasure of settler violence in the Pacific Northwest.
Carpenter’s research has already earned significant notice in news coverage:
To learn more, read the full report here:
The Department of History congratulates two graduate students, Tara Keegan and Hayley Brazier, for winning prestigious and competitive fellowships to help support their dissertation research.
Tara Keegan has won a Winter 2021 Oregon Humanities Center Dissertation Fellowship for her work on “Running the Redwood Empire: Indigeneity, Modernity, and a 480-Mile Footrace.” This fellowship seeks to provide doctoral students in humanities with the support to work full-time on their dissertations.
Hayley Brazier will be a 2020-21 Center for Environmental Futures/Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellow for her work on “The Seafloor and Society: Technological Innovation on the Pacific Seabed Transformation of North America,” which has been featured in Around the O. This fellowship, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is awarded to only two University of Oregon graduate students working in the field of Environmental Humanities.
Zach Bigalke is a UO alumnus who earned his bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees in the Department of History. Now a PhD student at Penn State University, Bigalke has just received the 2020 Robert K. Barney Graduate Essay Award from the Center for Sociocultural Sport and Olympic Research at California State University, Fullerton.
This international prize is awarded annually to one graduate student (Masters or Doctoral candidates) who submits the most outstanding piece of original research in the area of Olympic studies.
Zach Bigalke’s paper, a study on foreign-born athletes in the Winter Olympics from 1924 to the present, was considered by the award committee “fascinating, clearly organized, and crisply written.” As part of the award, the CSSOR will fund Bigalke’s travel, accommodations, and registration to the center’s annual conference, where he will present his scholarship in a special session.
Bigalke has also written an essay on soccer in Oregon prior to World War I, which will be published later this year in an anthology on the early history of soccer in the United States.
Join us in congratulating Zach Bigalke on his achievements and successful academic career.
Aziza Baker received a 2019-20 Tinker Field Research Grant for her research project, “Recalling Runaways: Studies of Slavery and Absenteeism in Cuba.” This grant was awarded by the Center for Latino/a & Latin American Studies (CLLAS) and funded a month-long summer research trip to Cuba, where Baker was able to access local archives and museums like the Biblioteca Nacional in Havana.
Baker’s research has two points of focus. The first project examines demographic backgrounds of enslaved Africans in the nineteenth century and the different methods that people used to resist enslavement. Baker’s second project uses this demographic data determine the “economic value” of different groups of enslaved people.
A summary of Baker’s research and her experiences from conducting research abroad will be published in CLLAS’s upcoming issue of Cllas Notes.
Aziza Baker is a second-year master’s student in the Department of History. She has a B.A. in Spanish and Portuguese literature from UC Berkely and has studied the history of nineteenth century Cuba under the guidance of her advisor, Dr. Carlos Aguirre.
The Tinker Grant is funded by the Tinker Foundation, with matching funds from the UO Office of Academic Affairs and the Graduate School. Learn more at cllas.uoregon.edu.
Don’t miss the Department of History’s Annual Graduate Student Research Conference, featuring exciting new research being done by first-year graduate students:
Saturday, June 8, 2019
9:00 a.m.–2:45 p.m.
375 McKenzie Hall
Free and open to the public
Schedule of Events
9:00 am–9:30 am
Coffee & Refreshments (provided)
9:30 am–11:00 am
Panel I: Restrictive “Liberations”: Training, Relocation, and Captivity’s Legacy in Transnational Context
Commentator: Dr. Brett Rushforth
“African Activism in Redefining Bondage Practices in Sierra Leone, 1796-1855”
“‘These People Shall Be Free’: Intermountain Slaveries and the Indian Student Placement Program in Utah”
11:00 am–11:15 am
Break & Snacks (provided)
11:15 am–12:45 pm
Panel II: Ideas and Professional Networks in Modern Europe
Commentator: Dr. John McCole
“‘Agglutinating a Family’: Friedrich Max Müller and the Turanian Language Family Theory in Nineteenth-Century European Linguistics and other Human Sciences”
“‘Alchemical Bonds: Social Media and Medical Networks in the Alba Amicorum”
“Mediating Malthus: Population in the Didactic Works of Maria Edgeworth, Jane Marcet, and Harriet Martineau”
12:45 pm–1:30 pm
1:30 pm–2:45 pm
Panel III: White Lies: Museums and Reform
Commentator: Dr. Jeffrey Ostler
“‘An Opportunity Unembarrassed’: Alaska and the Indian Reform Movement, 1867-1885”
“Imperialist Nostalgia: Guilt, Survivance, and Native Museums”
Celebrate undergraduate research and accomplishment at the 2019 History Showcase event!
Thursday, June 6
Erb Memorial Union, Cedar + Spruce Rooms
(EMU 231 & 232)
Refreshments will be served.
Tour an exhibit of research posters, showcasing the excellent work of History undergraduate students. And then join the department in honoring award recipients for their accomplishments and exceptional endeavors.
Don’t miss the last History Workshop of winter quarter, presented by Miles Wilkinson:
Creating Confidentiality: Physician-Patient Privilege and Medical Confidentiality in the United States, 1776–1975
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
375 McKenzie Hall
This event is free and open to all.
Tracing the origins and evolution of physician-patient privilege in America, Miles Wilkinson shows that the laws regulating medical testimony in the courtroom were cobbled together in response to a variety of disparate medical and legal developments—many predating the modern notions of privacy and patients’ rights often associated with the privilege today.
In doing so, Wilkinson explains how physician-patient privilege became a widely accepted legal doctrine and explain why the privilege remains such an unevenly applied rule in American courts.
About the Speaker
Miles Wilkinson is a graduate employee with the Department of History. His research focuses on the history of medicine in the United States. He is also a 2018-19 Oregon Humanities Center Teaching Fellow.
Hayley Brazier interviews Lindsey Mazurek, assistant professor of ancient history, about the Mediterranean Connectivity Initiative—a project focused on globalization around the Mediterranean Sea.
You can listen to the podcast of Visualizing the Mediterranean: A Conversation with Professor Lindsey Mazurek at DH@UO.
The Mediterranean Connectivity
The Mediterranean Connectivity Initiative, formerly known as the Ostia Connectivity Project, “combines GIS and Social Network Analysis to reconstruct potential social groupings and their participation in the urban fabric of Rome’s main port city of Ostia.” Lindsey Mazurek co-directs this project with other experts on archaeology and social history. Mazurek is a specialist in ancient history with a focus on the eastern Mediterranean under the Roman Empire. She is also interested in questions of globalization and social networks in the Mediterranean.
Digital Humanities at the University of Oregon (DH@UO) is a campus group working to develop the growing interdisciplinary field of digital humanities by building an inclusive community of digital humanities teachers and scholars. The DH@UO website and weekly blog includes scholarly resources, announcements about workshops and events, and information about the new Digital Humanities minor offered through the Department of English.
About Hayley Brazier
Hayley Brazier is the DH Program Coordinator for Digital Humanities at the University of Oregon. She is a Graduate Employee and PhD candidate with the Department of History, researching environmental history and seabed technologies. In addition, she has a background in museum studies and historic preservation.
History major Augustine Beard has been selected as a Udall Scholar! (more…)
Please join us in congratulating our colleagues! (more…)
Mark Kolt (History, ’10) uses research skills to help investors find The Next Big Thing.
While his college studies as a history major were focused on the past, Mark Kolt’s job is all about the future.
“Investors make bets based on their interpretation of how current events will affect their bottom lines,” Kolt said. “They look at how markets react based on similar news in the past, make educated assumptions based on that research and apply those assumptions to their current models to predict future trends and determine the best course of action. This is exactly what history teaches you to do.”
In American Business History, a lecture-and-discussion class, Kolt learned how historical events affect business culture. It inspired him to write a senior thesis about the history of venture capitalism in Silicon Valley.
“Really, what I was interested in was, ‘how did all these people make all their money?’” he said.
Professor Daniel Pope, Kolt’s thesis advisor, said UO history students learn to write a clear narrative and develop persuasive skills through producing a thesis, a requirement for the major.
Historical knowledge can be useful for business professionals in several ways.
Said Pope: “People with historical training should bring an awareness of the social context of business—trends in national and international politics, macroeconomics, popular culture, race and gender relations all affect how a firm functions in the present.
“Second, historical research experience is often valuable for specific tasks and projects. Well-trained business people will know how to investigate the past to get a sense of what worked and what didn’t, to learn of paths not taken, to become alert to potential problems and issues in current and future activity.”
Kolt’s study of venture capitalism led him to pursue a career in finance.
Living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area, Kolt starts his typical day by reviewing news and market conditions, looking for anything that may affect his clients’ investments. He then spends time on the phone working on deals, reaching out to companies, making introductions and scheduling meetings.
Kolt keeps track of two clocks and manages his day to work with people in America and Russia. “It’s not a very traditional schedule,” he said.
Moscow is 10 hours ahead, so after eating dinner around 10 p.m. Kolt hops onto an 11 p.m. conference call. Around 1 a.m. he’s off the phone, having passed any unfinished work to analysts in Russia, and into bed. He is then up and in his stateside office by 10 a.m.
“My history degree gave me the skills to not only analyze source materials,” Kolt said, “but also to understand the underlying causes of economic trends, paths to success and to apply such lessons to my current job and responsibilities.”
Ryan Patterson’s undergraduate thesis, “Resistance and Resilience: Politicized Art and Anti-Feminicide Activism in Ciudad Juárez and Abroad,” published in The Yale Historical Review.
The murder of women is neither a new phenomenon nor a topic of historical research that has garnered a large body of research. In this essay, Ryan Bailey Patterson, University of Oregon ’16, delves into the topic of feminicide, studying the gendered contexts of the murder of women in terms of pervasive patriarchal power structures. Patterson focuses much of her analysis on the feminicides of Ciudad Juárez, looking at the role of politicized visual art in combatting the troubling trend. This essay follows a grassroots art movement that evolved into a transnational fight for basic human rights. Read more…
Paulla Santos’s undergraduate thesis, “Sexualtiy, Gender, and US Imperialism after Philippine Independence: An Examination of Gender and Sexual Stereotypes of Pilipina Entertainment Workers and US Servicemen,” published in The Oregon Undergraduate Research Journal
Paulla’s paper examines the continuation of United States imperialism in the Philippines after Philippine Independence in 1946 through the gendered and sexual stereotypes of US men and Philippine women. These perceptions of the women as submissive and dependent were constructed through women’s interactions with US military men, who were present due to growing US concern over eastern communist influence in the second half of the 20th century. Evidence from rest-and-recreation areas near US military bases suggests that US servicemen were seen as powerful and wealthy, while the Philippines appeared submissive and dependent on US power, as represented by Philippine women’s behavior towards the servicemen. The Philippine presidencies of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino also transformed identities particularly of Philippine women. These ranged from the support and promotion of Pilipina entertainment workers to condemning and imprisoning them. However, Santos illuminates instances of Pilipina agency that show how many Pilipinas were not simply victims to US power within these entertainment districts, but also sought employment opportunities in order to benefit from the circumstances created by US presence and provide for themselves, their families, and their country. Santos then connects the events around US military bases at that time to present-day stereotypes associated with Asian-born women married to US men in the United States, as well as the current discussions of reopening the US military bases in the Philippines.