Faculty Research: Janet Davis wins Constance Rourke Prize for Best Essay in American Quarterly

Philippine cockfight 1900-02.JPG

Philippine cockfight 1900-02” by US military personnel. – Downloaded from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/i/image/image-idx?id=S-SCLPHILIMG-X-37%5DPHLK142.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

We’re so thrilled to share with y’all the news that Dr. Janet Davis has won the Constance Rourke Prize for the best essay in American Quarterly in 2013 for her piece entitled “Cockfight Nationalism: Bloodsport and the Moral Politics of American Empire and Nation Building.”

Here’s the abstract of her article, which can be found in full here (login necessary):

This essay explores the symbiotic relationship between animal welfare and ideologies of nation building and exceptionalism during a series of struggles over cockfighting in the new US Empire in the early twentieth century. Born out of the shared experience of American overseas expansionism, these clashes erupted in the American Occupied Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, where the battle lines pitting American-sponsored animal protectionists against indigenous cockfight enthusiasts were drawn along competing charges of cruelty and claims of self-determination. I argue that battles over the cockfight were a form of animal nationalism—that is to say, cockfight nationalism. Cockfight enthusiasts and opponents alike mapped gendered, raced, and classed ideologies of nation and sovereignty onto the bodies of fighting cocks to stake their divergent political and cultural claims regarding the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, moral uplift, benevolence, and national belonging.

Congratulations, Janet!

Faculty Research: Dr. Julia Mickenberg Featured on ‘BackStory’

Image from the National Museum of American History

Image from the National Museum of American History

We’re pleased to share the news with you that Dr. Julia Mickenberg is featured in a discussion about the history of US – Russia Relations for BackStory, a nationally-syndicated public radio program affiliated with the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Dr. Mickenberg discusses her research relating to women’s suffrage in the early 20th century.

Here’s a summary of the episode, which you can listen to in full here.

In the past year, the White House and the Kremlin have sparred over Syria, the Winter Olympics, and now, the crisis in Ukraine. It can be tempting to view these events through the familiar lens of the Cold War, but in this episode, the History Guys probe the deeper history of our relationship with Russia — and discover moments of comity as well as conflict.

They’ll discuss Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous prediction in the 1830s, that the United States and Russia were “two great nations” that would each come to “hold in [their] hands the destinies of half the world.” And they find long-term connections and comparisons between the countries over time. From Civil War-era analogies between freeing American slaves and freeing Russian serfs, to early 20th-century debates over women’s suffrage, Americans have often looked to Russia as a counterpart, if sometimes a cautionary one.