Congratulations to our colleagues - SSHRC research grants

Jonathan Edmondson, Josh Fogel, Paul Lovejoy, Deb Neill, Adrian Shubert, and Marc Stein

Boyd Cothran and Keith Weiser

Dear members of the department,

At the May History Council, I mentioned that several colleagues won SSHRC Insight or Insight Development Grants in the 2013 and 2014 competitions. However, I could not give their names.

The results have recently been made public (see and and I would like to congratulate them.

Insight Grants: October 2013 Competition Awards:

Jonathan Edmondson

Funerary epigraphy of Augusta Emerita - Merida, Spain

Brief description of the research project:

The basic aim is to study all the unpublished non-Christian funerary monuments from Augusta Emerita (Mérida) for two major collaborative epigraphic publications: (a) the volume Nueva Epigrafía Funeraria de Augusta Emerita (N.E.F.A.E.) and (b) the Emerita fascicule for the second edition of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL II2/3). In addition, I will use the funerary monuments of Emerita to throw light on the cultural horizons and social history of the Roman colony and also to explore the issue of the workshops (officinae) that produced funerary monuments in Emerita in the period from 25 BCE to c. 400 CE. Finally I plan to create an Open Access website, “Remembering the Dead in Augusta Emerita (Mérida, Spain)”, to make this material more accessible to specialists and non-specialists. Each web-entry will include a photo, brief description of the monument, Latin text, English translation, and brief commentary, together with references to the most pertinent published editions and discussions of the text.

Timothy Cheek (UBC) with Josh Fogel and David Ownby (Université de Montréal)
Reading and writing the Chinese dream: reinventing China’s tradition(s), 1980 to the present

Brief description of the research project:

We are planning to map the world of how contemporary (i.e., post-Mao) Chinese intellectuals understand their modern history: books, articles, blogs. We plan to interview them and translate representative ones in, basically, three camps: neo-Marxist, new Confucians, liberals. The aim is an ongoing website of translations, a reader of translated texts, and that map (see above) of people, institutions, journals, publishing houses, etc.

Paul Lovejoy with Femi J. Kolapo (University of Guelph) and Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec (University de Sherbrooke)

SHADD biography project: testimonies of West Africans from the era of the slave trade

Brief description of the research project:

The SHADD Biography Project focuses on the enforced migration of “Atlantic Africans,” that is enslaved Africans in the Atlantic world during the era of the slave trade, through an examination of biographical accounts of individuals born in Africa who were enslaved in the 16th - 19th century. The SHADD Biography Project seeks to use an online digital repository of autobiographical testimonies and biographical data of Atlantic Africans to analyze patterns in the slave trade from West Africa, specifically in terms of where individuals came from, why they were enslaved, and what happened to them. The Project focuses on people born in West Africa and hence in most cases had been born free rather than on those who were born into slavery in the Americas. The Project is named for Mary Ann Shadd, abolitionist, Canadian, first woman newspaper editor in North America (The Provincial Freeman), in recognition of her political and intellectual commitment to document the Underground Railroad and resistance to slavery in North America.

Deb Neill

Firearms and firewater: arms, liquor, and humanitarian campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa, 1885-1914

Brief description of the research project:

"Firearms and Firewater" is a book-length study that explores the transnational merchant and humanitarian communities who clashed over their competing visions for the development of colonial West Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book pays particular attention to the Liverpool company John Holt & Co: this company was connected to many other merchant and shipping concerns and was active under five different European administrations along the coast (Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal). John Holt also had a major trade in both guns and liquor, and yet its founder was active in humanitarian causes including the Congo Reform Movement. In using Holt as a gateway for an exploration of the broader community of Europeans working to “reform” colonialism up to 1914, this book argues that the economic, social, and political policies of several European colonies in Western Africa were influenced by the aims and activities of influential transnational actors with complex and often conflicting agendas.

Adrian Shubert
The general of two worlds: Baldomero Espartero, empire, nation and liberalism in Spain and Latin America, 1793-1879)
(top-ranked History proposal in the country)

Brief description of the research project:

The life of Baldomero Espartero (1793-1879) resembles that of a character by Stendhal or Gabriel García Márquez. Born into obscurity in a rural backwater of central Spain in the waning years of Spain's Old Regime, as a 75-year-old man he was offered, and turned down, the throne of an industrializing nation. In between he had fought against both Napoleon and Simón Bolívar, won a seven-year civil war; served as Regent for a child queen and as Prime Minister; received multiple noble titles; spent years in exile in England, and become an almost mythical figure. A fascinating story in itself, Espartero's life -- and afterlife - provides an exceptional window through which to explore a number of major developments in the history of Spain, Europe and Latin America : the revolutionary changes initiated by the wars of the French Revolution (1792-1814); the independence of the Spanish empire in mainland Latin America; Spain's turbulent transition from absolute to constitutional monarchy and from Ancien Regime to liberal society; the emergence of new types of public figures; and the changing ways in which those historical experiences, and one of its central protagonists, have been remembered and valued.

Marc Stein

U.S. perspectives on Canadian sexual politics: historical case studies

Brief description of the research project:

In the last several decades, many U.S. Americans have come to view Canada as sexually different from the United States. Conservatives and liberals typically have opposing views about whether Canada should be praised or criticized for these differences, but they generally agree that the two countries have divergent sexual values, practices, and politics. Whether based in myth or reality, the notion that Canada decriminalized homosexual acts, accepted gays and lesbians in the military, legalized same-sex marriage, prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, reduced sexual censorship, and liberalized laws concerning abortion and prostitution long before or to a greater extent than the United States did has come to play a significant role in U.S. understandings of its northern neighbour. In turn, U.S. perceptions of Canada as sexually different have contributed to U.S. perceptions of itself as sexually distinct. The primary objective of this five-year project, titled "U.S. Perspectives on Canadian Sexual Politics: Historical Case Studies," is to explore the historical roots of the U.S. popular perception that Canada is more sexually liberal than the United States. One of the main goals is to determine whether this perception is relatively new---rooted, perhaps, in Trudeau-era reforms in Canada or the rise of the New Right in the United States---or has a longer history. Another goal is to explore what purposes are served by discourses that emphasize national differences in sexual politics.

Insight Development Grants: February 2014 Competition Awards

Boyd Cothran

Not the last of their tribes: stories of Indigenous survival from nineteenth-century California

Brief description of the research project:

This Insight Development Grant funds the initial stage of research for a book-length study of the survival of California Indian peoples from the nineteenth century to the present through a series of individual biographies, which emphasize Indigenous engagement with American colonial popular culture and histories committed to a vision of all California Indians as destined to vanish. During the initial phases of research, Cothran and his team will conduct a systematic survey of nineteenth and twentieth century local histories, newspapers, journals, scrapbook collection, and census reports to develop a database of Indigenous individuals who were identified by the dominant settler society as the last of their tribes. At present, over 100 individuals have already been identified.

Keith Weiser with Sol Goldberg (U of T) and Scott Ury (Tel Aviv University)

Re-conceiving Key Terminology and Concepts in Antisemitism Studies

Brief Description of the research project:

Recent scholarly literature has begun to problematize many features of research into the various causes and cases of antisemitism, including the lack of consensus about how to define and identify it. But these novel insights have not yet been subject to comprehensive and critical scrutiny, and few of them have made their way into materials intended for an undergraduate audience. Simplistic and teleological narratives about the eternal hatred of the Jews too often shape volumes directed at popular and student audiences. These books, often written by scholars of European Jewish history, attempt to relate a coherent narrative across a staggering temporal and geographic expanse without consideration of the experience of other groups, including other minorities and out-groups, alongside whom Jews lived. Their approach is also usually conditioned by a tendency to understand all manifestations of antisemitism through the prism of the Holocaust, which leads to privileging the most violent and virulent features of anti-Jewish thought and action over other, perhaps more mundane ones.

The goal of our project is two-fold (1) to produce a volume in which scholars from multiple countries and multiple disciplines offer contrasting perspectives on key conceptual and methodological issues in the study of antisemitism; (2) to use this volume as part of an international seminar to be convened in Toronto on the campuses of York University and the University of Toronto to introduce graduate students to the study of antisemitism and to help prepare them to teach a course about it at the university level.

It has been a very good year for the Department in a variety of SSHRC competitions.

Many congratulations to our colleagues!