History professor Kate Brown has been in the news reflecting on two major recent news stories: the death of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and a Pasco, Washington police shooting case. Brown published op-eds in Al Jazeera America and Time that studied the deeper history behind both incidents to give more meaning and context to the two stories.
In her column “Boris Nemtsov died alone,” Brown discussed how much of the news coverage surrounding Nemtsov’s murder mainly focused on his personality and who was responsible for his death, not on his plans for economic reform.
“Unfortunately, the funeral coverage of Nemtsov is all about his personality, not his policies, because he did not manage on a national level to pass the reforms he sought,” Brown wrote.
In “Only Part of the Story is Being Told About the Police Shooting in Pasco,” Brown explained how Pasco’s history in many ways has informed some of the reaction to the police shooting case of Antionio Zambrano-Montes on February 10.
“The killing of Zambrano-Montes—the fourth fatal police shooting in six months by Pasco police, though the first with a Latino victim—triggered anger among the Latinos who make up more than half of Pasco’s population, because they complain that they have little representation in the local government or police force. But there is more to this story than one death. The anger has been building for generations, in part because the marginalization of minorities in Pasco has a long history,” Brown wrote.
To read complete versions of both articles, see below:
Boris Nemtsov Died Alone (Al Jazeera America)
Only Part of the Story is Being Told About the Police Shooting in Pasco (Time)
Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history and author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014), recently published an article in the New York Times “Disunion” blog, which follows the Civil War as it unfolded 150 years ago.
Titled “Towns Made for Burning,” the article describes Union General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea in South Carolina: “Sherman did not explicitly order his men to treat South Carolina’s Confederate civilians cruelly, but he did little to dissuade them,” Rubin wrote.
Rubin further described the general’s thought process behind the march, including exploiting fear among Southern whites as a way to quickly end the war: “…he recalled, disingenuously, that ‘somehow the men had got the idea that South Carolina was the cause of all our troubles … and therefore on them should fall the scourge of war in its worst form.’ Sherman appreciated his men’s enthusiasm, and was loath to ‘restrain the army lest its vigor and energy should be impaired.’”
In addition to her article, Rubin also appeared on C-SPAN on February 28. She discussed the Burning of Columbia and how the event has been remembered by the city and in history. To watch the full segment, click here.
History Professor James Grubb has been selected to serve as one of three trustees of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, a philanthropic foundation headquartered in New York. According to its website, the The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation “promotes the advancement and perpetuation of humanistic inquiry and artistic creativity by encouraging excellence in scholarship and in the performing arts, and by supporting research libraries and other institutions which transmit our cultural heritage.”
The Foundation sponsors projects in four areas in which the founder was keenly interested: libraries, humanities, artistic performance in New York, and Venetian studies. The annual budget is about $2.5 million. Grubb will oversee the programs in the humanities and Venetian studies, although all decisions are made by the three trustees jointly.
The selection of Prof. Grubb is a recognition of his prominence in the field of Early Modern Studies, Venetian Studies, and Italian history. For more information on the foundation, click here.
George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, associate professor of history, was quoted in a February 26 article in the Washington Post that examined Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s role in ushering in the legalization of marijuana in the city.
Musgrove commented on the relationship between Bowser and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over D.C. legislative matters, and noted that Bowser contacted Chaffetz in advance of a press conference this week about marijuana legalization.
“Her press conference was impressive. Not only was she firm . . . standing up for the wishes of 7 in 10 voters, but she was shrewd, making her case in a manner that left room for a continuing relationship with Chaffetz.” said Musgrove, who is a D.C. resident and is currently writing a book about race and democracy in the city.
To read the full article titled “D.C. mayor’s deal with pot backers led to a low-key success,” click here.
History Professor Kate Brown has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Collaborative Research Fellowship to study the long-term effects of low doses of radiation on human health in the context of the Chernobyl disaster nearly three decades ago. Brown will be working with Timothy Mousseau, an evolutionary biologist at the University of South Carolina.
The two scholars, with Brown providing the humanist perspective and Mousseau the scientist perspective, will collaborate to explore how knowledge and ignorance of the impact of the disaster has been produced over the last thirty years. The project will aim to historically analyze three decades of scientific research on Chernobyl and Fukushima to highlight the known and debated impact on humans, animals, and plants from long term, low dose exposure to radiation. The research comes at a time when nuclear power is being discussed as a solution to climate change and energy independence.
The project, titled Chernobyl Revisited: An Historical Inquiry into the Practice of Knowing, will run for two years. For more information on the ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship program, click here.
In related news, Brown published an op-ed on January 21 in Time that discussed nuclear waste cleanup at the Hanford plutonium plant in eastern Washington State. In her article, she analyzed why the cleanup has been such a prolonged, difficult problem to deal with: “…the former Hanford plutonium plant became the largest nuclear clean-up site in the western hemisphere. It costs taxpayers a billion dollars a year,” she wrote.
To read the full column titled “How the Atomic Age Left Us a Half-Century of Radioactive Waste,” click here.
The Journal of American History (JAH) produces a monthly podcast interview with an author of a JAH article or author of a book on a historical topic. Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history and author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014), was the guest on JAH’s November podcast. She was interviewed about her book and discussed how she first became interested in researching Sherman’s March in graduate school.
“The endurance of it is the power of Sherman’s March as a metaphor,” Rubin said. “In the South, people feel it very viscerally obviously in Georgia and the Carolinas. But elsewhere it has come to be this symbol of devastation, and destruction, and fire.”
Rubin’s book analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March, one of the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War, as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time. She analyzes stories from travel accounts, memoirs, literature, films, and newspapers to highlight the metaphorical importance of Sherman’s March in American memory.
To listen to the complete podcast interview conducted by JAH editor Edward Linenthal, click here.