Kate Brown, History, Wins the 2014 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians

On Saturday, April 12 in Atlanta, History Associate Professor Kate Brown was awarded the 2014 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) for the best book-length historical study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the United States, in its domestic or international affairs, from the Civil War to the present.


Brown received the award for her book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013), in which she tells the stories of Hanford, Washington and Ozersk, Russia. The Soviet and American governments created these communities to produce the plutonium that fueled the nuclear arms race during the Cold War.

In a press release announcing the award, OAH stated: “Brown notes that the major accidents at Hanford and Ozersk were largely unknown to the public, in contrast to the recognition today of Chernobyl and Fukushima. But the costs to the well-being of the workers and the environment were arguably far higher. This revelatory history provides a highly readable and deeply researched model of transnational history.”

Last month, Brown was awarded the 2014 George Perkins Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH), also for her book, Plutopia.

George Derek Musgrove, History, Op-Ed in The Washington Post

Washington, D.C. hasn’t directly funded its shadow delegation to Congress, the city’s official statehood lobby, since the first elections for the positions were held in 1990. However, just last week, Mayor Vincent Gray released a budget for fiscal 2015 that includes $100,000 for the delegation.

Derek Musgrove

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, assistant professor of history, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post titled, “D.C.’s shadow delegation: It’s not the money, it’s the strategy,” in which he argued the money could help the delegation, but only if it changes its approach.

“Since its creation, the shadow delegation has focused its energy on lobbying members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Though its efforts get support from the small number of members who already favor statehood, the delegation has never been able to persuade those on the fence, let alone outright opponents, to support their cause,” Musgrove wrote.

Musgrove wrote in order to attain its goals, the delegation must learn from lessons in D.C.’s history, such as the campaign for the D.C. Voting Rights Amendment.

“The 2015 budget could give the shadow delegation funding it needs to expand its lobbying operation. But the history of the struggle for D.C. self-determination teaches that, to have any success, it needs to adopt a strategy that can reach the folks back home,” he adds.

To read the full op-ed in The Washington Post, click here.

George Derek Musgrove, History, in The Washington Post

Derek MusgroveA recent Washington Post column explores the possibility of District Mayor Vincent Gray being indicted on federal criminal charges while running for reelection. Gray has said he wouldn’t resign if the charges were brought and would defend himself at trial.

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, assistant professor of history, was interviewed for the column and offered his perspective on what a trial would mean for Gray if he were to continue governing.

A trial “would be horrible — it would just be a magnification of the current situation,” Musgrove said. He added such a spectacle would hurt the city’s relations with Congress and hamper Gray’s performance.

Musgrove is currently writing a book about race and democracy in the District. To read the full column in The Washington Post, click here.

Kate Brown, History, Wins Environmental History Book Prize

plutopiaHistory Associate Professor Kate Brown has won the 2014 George Perkins Marsh Prize for her book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013).

The award is given by the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) for the best book in environmental history. Brown received her prize March 15 in San Francisco at the annual ASEH conference.

Last fall, Brown presented a Social Sciences Forum on Plutopia which explored the work and research behind her book. More information can be found here.

Meredith Oyen, History, on CNBC News Website

Meredith OyenMeredith Oyen, an assistant professor of history, is quoted in a CNBC News article about the five-man alternative rock band from Taiwan known as Mayday that is set to kick off a tour in the United States this month.

In the article, Oyen says music groups like Mayday are beginning to become more popular in countries around the world: “Mayday is starting to challenge the assumption that English-speaking pop stars are global stars, and Chinese-speaking acts are only regional ones,” she said.

Oyen is currently in China serving on a Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (Beijing) external evaluation panel to evaluate U.S. history courses taught at several Chinese universities. As part of the trip, she gave a lecture at Minjiang University called “The Meeting of Minds: Academic Exchanges in US-Chinese Relations.”

To read the full CNBC article that Oyen is quoted in, click here.

George Derek Musgrove, History, in The Washington Post

More than 80,000 new voters in Washington, D.C. have registered since 2010, and rapid changes in the city’s demographics are being studied as experts analyze the upcoming Democratic primary in the race for D.C. mayor.

Derek Musgrove

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, assistant professor of history, was interviewed for a front page story published in The Washington Post on March 9. The article, titled “D.C.’s complexion is changing. Will the next mayor reflect that?“, examines how the upcoming mayoral election could reshape power and politics in the nation’s capital.

“The identity of the city since the ’60s has been ‘Chocolate City,’ ” Musgrove said. “The last thing keeping that identity intact is the mayoralty.” Musgrove, who lives in Washington and is currently writing a book on race and politics in the District, provided insight and historical context on changing political attitudes among residents in the nation’s capital.

“The passing of the civil rights-home rule generation brought us the children of that generation, including [former council members] Kwame Brown, Michael Brown and Tommy Thomas,” Musgrove said, and those sons of prominent civil rights-era political figures in the city, now disgraced former council members, “were miserable — and not just because they were caught stealing, but because they never had a vision for the city.”

In the article, Musgrove also pointed to a younger generation of voters and council members who are focusing more on economic diversity than racial identity. Young voters, too, “have very different notions of politics and race than the older generations did,” Musgrove said. “Young black professionals are willing to give Tommy Wells a fair shake.”

You can read the full article in The Washington Post here.

Meredith Oyen, History, Selected for Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange Panel

Meredith OyenAssistant Professor of History Meredith Oyen has been asked to serve on a Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (Beijing) external evaluation panel to evaluate courses in the international general education curriculum program.

Oyen will serve as part of a team that will be traveling to Sanming University and Minjiang University in Fujian Province to audit classes, speak with students and faculty and review the quality of course offerings.

Oyen’s main focus will be evaluating the teaching and learning outcomes for courses on U.S. history that are taught in English. She will be in China from March 14-22.

“Hit & Stay” screening and Q&A with Joe Tropea ’06, History and ’08 M.A., Historical Studies (3/12)

UMBC’s history and American studies departments are sponsoring a screening of “Hit & Stay,” a documentary about the Catonsville Nine directed by Joe Tropea ’06, History and ’08 M.A., Historical Studies.

Hit & Stay

The documentary tells the story of nine Catholic activists who entered a Selective Service office in Catonsville on May 17, 1968 and burnt draft files to protest the Vietnam War. “Hit & Stay” features archived footage and activists telling their stories in their own words. Interviews include Bill Ayers, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Laura Whitehorn, and Howard Zinn.

The film premiered locally last year at the Maryland Film Festival. For past coverage of the documentary, click here.

The screening takes place Wednesday, March 12 at 8 p.m. in Meyerhoff 030. Joe Tropea will attend the screening and host a Q&A. The event is free and open to the public.

Note: This event was previously scheduled for February 13.

Anne Rubin’s Civil War History Class Appears on C-SPAN

A lecture by History Associate Professor Anne Rubin in her Civil War and Reconstruction class recently aired on C-SPAN3. The class was taped by C-SPAN as part of a series on Civil War Memory and “The Lost Cause.”

Rubin’s lecture analyzed how the Civil War was remembered in the decades after the conflict with a focus on the former Confederate states. In the lecture, Rubin talks about the Southern Historical Society’s contributions to The Lost Cause myth which idealized how the pre-war South was perceived. She also analyzes cemeteries and monuments that honor the Confederate dead among other topics.

The class aired on C-SPAN 3 Saturday, January 25. You can watch the lecture in its entirety here.

Anne Rubin is author of Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868. 

Kate Brown, History, Writes Op-Ed for Al Jazeera America

In an Al Jazeera America op-ed titled “Two decades later, ex-Soviet republics reject absolute independence,” history associate professor Kate Brown writes that a combination of self-governance and economic integration is essential for former Soviet states in a global economy.

In the column, Brown cites the example of ongoing protests in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, against the Ukrainian president’s refusal to sign European Union agreements that would facilitate trade.

“The anxiety over economic well-being is not limited to Ukraine. Citizens in almost all the ex–Soviet republics are registering displeasure with their states’ autonomy at a rate that just about matches the indebtedness of those countries,” she writes.

Brown also writes that citizens in ex-Soviet republics are becoming more international and populist than nationalist in their political beliefs and that “crowds on the street want to be a part of broader international associations, which would give them the right to travel, trade and express themselves freely.”

Referencing past experience of ex-Soviet republics, Brown writes that “international associations combined with local self-governance may just be the new formula for sovereignty in a global economy.”

You can read the full op-ed in Al Jazeera America here.