History

You Should..Listen to: The “Fell Free” Audiobook (Fiona Vernal, UConn-History)

There is only so much Netflix and Hulu one can watch and replaying Contagion and Outbreak are not the best antidote for COVID-19’s many anxieties. I suggest you find refuge in an audio-version of Feel Free, Zadie Smith’s 2018 eclectic and wide-ranging collection of essays. Banish all thought of the staid five-paragraph essays of undergraduate habitude; this collection will whisk you back to what the essay form was meant to do originally—reflect and be relevant. Even if you have not discovered White Teeth or On Beauty, you’ll get a crash course in Smith’s literary evolution from an awe-struck young writer to a mature, reflective artist. Feel Free will surprise and delight, offering ruminations on freedom, multiculturalism, aesthetics, art, dance, fiction, domesticity, middle class dreams of the British sort, optimism, family, individuality, social media, race, and narcissism. In a curious juxtaposition of characters, you’ll discover low-brow and high-brow culture, ways of seeing, ways of being, and the gulf between husbands and wives and parents and children. Where else will you find Martha Graham and John Berger; Philip Roth and Balthasar Denney; Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Vladimir Nabokov and Jay-Z; and the single-monikered Prince, Madonna, and Beyoncé?  In one of the most brilliant pieces, a bathroom becomes a lucid symbol of a father’s thwarted dream, a mother’s exile, and the sacrifices that permit their children to cross social, racial, geographic, and economic boundaries. Since you can’t have this conversation with Zadie Smith in person, listening to Feel Free is the next best option!

Fiona Vernal
Associate Professor of History
University of Connecticut

Fiona Vernal Behind a PodiumWho is Fiona Vernal? Fiona Vernal is a native of Trelawny, Jamaica and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. She earned her MA and PhD from Yale. Since 2005 she has taught at the University of Connecticut’s Department of History. Her book, The Farmerfield Mission (Oxford, 2012) explores the relationship between African Christian converts, European missionaries, and the politics of land access, land alienation and the “civilizing” mission of African social and economic improvement in nineteenth century South Africa. She consults with the Connecticut Historical Society on oral history projects including an exhibit documenting and recording the impact of 9/11 on Connecticut victims, families, and first responders.

Fellows Talk: Emma Amador on Community and Politics in the Puerto Rican Diaspora

Demanding Dignity: Social Workers, Community Organizing, and Welfare Politics in the Puerto Rican Diaspora after 1948

 

Emma Amador, Ph.D. (History Department, University of Connecticut)

January 29, 2020 – 4 to 5PM (UCHI Conference Room: Babbidge Library, 4th Floor South)

 

This presentation will explore histories of organizing for social services within Puerto Rican communities in the United States. It will begin by examining the role of Puerto Rican women social workers as architects of the Migration Division of the Puerto Rican government’s Department of Labor after 1948, showing how within this state agency a generation of social workers challenged the racial and gender discrimination faced by Puerto Rican migrants seeking social services, housing, and care in the US. It will then show how this activism fostered the emergence of a new generation of social worker activists who in the 1960s and 70s moved into new roles as community organizers and civil rights activists. By focusing on Puerto Rican social workers role in shaping and challenging U.S. social welfare institutions to better address colonial and migrant citizens, this paper historicizes their ongoing struggle to demand dignity and social justice.

Emma Amador headshot, with the UCHI logo, the title of her talk, and the time and data of her presentation

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

 

Who is Emma Amador?

Emma Amador is an Assistant Professor of History and Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies.  Her work focuses on Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans, and U.S. Latina/o/x History with an emphasis on women, gender, and race.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, an M.A. from UConn, and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.  Before returning to UConn she held a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the History Department (2016-2018). She is currently completing a book manuscript, Contesting Colonialism: Puerto Ricans and the Politics of Welfare in the 20th Century that explores the history of welfare, territorial social citizenship, and struggles for social rights in Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora.  This project examines how the U.S. welfare state became a site where Puerto Ricans have fought for social justice, labor reform, and decolonization.  Her work has received support from Brown University, the SITPA Scholar Mellon Program at Duke University, the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY, Hunter College, and the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan.

Fellows Talk: Jessica Strom on Adriano Lemmi and Italian Unification

Financing Revolution: Adriano Lemmi and the Struggle for Italian Unification

Jessica Strom, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Connecticut
 November 20, 2019 – 4 to 5PM (UCHI Conference Room: Babbidge Library, 4th Floor South)

Jessica’s work explores Italian merchant Adriano Lemmi’s (18221906) position in the clandestine networks that funded radical nationalist leaders, military actions, and political newspapers during Italy’s mid-nineteenth century struggle for unification and political independence known as the Risorgimento. Lemmi played a critical role in fundraising efforts during the Risorgimento and became a key figure in the radical nationalist movement. By looking at a different type of revolutionary leader, Jessica’s project moves beyond ideals or outcomes to illuminate the everyday experiences of Italian Unification.Her talk will discuss how Lemmi helped to foster an alliance between Italian leader Giuseppe Mazzini and Hungarian nationalist Lajos Kossuth in the early 1850s. In particular she will address Lemmi’s crucial role in plans to free Kossuth from imprisonment in the Ottoman Empire and in subsequent efforts to acquire weapons from the United States to support nationalist military initiatives.

Strom Talk Poster

Fellows Talk: Kornel Chang on Land Reform in US-Occupied Korea

Liberatory Possibilities:
Korean Peasants and the Struggle over Land Reform in U.S.-Occupied Korea

Kornel S. Chang, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University – Newark
October 16, 2019 (UCHI Conference Room: Babbidge Library, 4th Floor North)

This talk captures a slice of Korea’s “Asian Spring,” by examining the different ways Korean peasants imagined liberation, sought to actualize their aspirations, and clashed over its meaning in the aftermath of the Second World War, when the collapse of the Japanese Empire ushered in a moment ripe with hope, idealism, and uncertainty. It also looks at how the entry of American forces complicated, and, ultimately, narrowed possibilities for agrarian reform. This touched off a struggle with Korean peasants, who, despite their differences, held more far-reaching visions of emancipation. Focusing on land rights, my talk reveals the vitality and complexity of Korea’s “Asian Spring,” by highlighting the emancipatory opportunities that inspired, mobilized, and fractured Korean peasants, while recounting the ways Americans foreclosed many of its possibilities in an effort to establish control in Korea and rebuild a postwar social order in Asia.

Chang Talk Poster