Faculty & Staff News


Prof. James Article Wins Prize Recognition
from Oregon Historical Society

Prof. Elizabeth JamesProf. Elizabeth James' recent article "'Hardly a Family is Free From the Disease': Tuberculosis, Health Care, and Assimilation Policy on the Nez Perce Reservation, 1908-1942" has been awarded a Palmer Award (Honorable Mention) from the Oregon Historical Society. 

The article originally appeared in the Oregon Historical Quarterly in Summer 2011.

OHQ-Summer 2011_cover"Hardly a Family is Free From the Disease" explores the impact of tuberculosis on the Nez Perce reservation in Idaho and efforts to lessen its significant morbidity and mortality rates. Tuberculosis afflicted numerous Native American reservations in epidemic proportions in the early twentieth century. A particular focus of Prof. James' article is federal policies that could and did preclude efforts to alleviate the disease. Such efforts included the experimental opening of a "sanitarium school" in which students received medical care while at a boarding school that sought to assimilate students into American culture--often at the price of their own heritage.

Palmer Award committee members called the article a "well-focused examination of TB and its treatment amongst the Idaho Nez Perces" which "succeeds in illuminating the much larger subject of U.S. policies -- assimilationist, paternalistic, and dependent for good or bad on local officials -- regarding Indian health in the first four decades of the 20th century."

The Palmer Award was established by Omar C. "Slug" Palmer and William J. Lang in honor of their ancestor Joel Palmer, an Oregon pioneer. It is voted on by members of the Oregon Historical Quarterly's Editorial Advisory Board.

Congratulations to Prof. James for this signature achievement!

[posted 10 April 2012]


Prof. Shannon - U.S. Foreign Policy and Women's RightsProf. Shannon Discusses Women's Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy

On Monday, 26 March 2012, Dr. Kelly J. Shannon discussed her latest research on the growing importance of Women's Rights in U.S. foreign policy debates at the UAA Campus Bookstore. Her fields of study are the history of U.S. foreign relations, the modern Islamic world, and international feminism. Dr. Shannon is an active member of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) and she is working on her first book, Veiled Intentions: Islam, Global Feminism, and U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1979, which examines how Americans' concerns about the rights of women in Islamic countries have been integrated into U.S. foreign policy in recent decades.
Rachel Epstein and her crew at the book store have prepared a podcast of Prof. Shannon's talk, which can be heard at the link below:



 [posted 29 March 2012]


Prof. Gavorsky Discusses
The Social Contract Today
with Faculty Panel

The Social Contract TodayOn Monday, 27 February 2012, Prof. Scott Gavorsky participated in a panel discussing The Social Contract Today at the UAA Campus Bookstore. Joining him  were  Alan Boraas (Anthropology) , Jason Brandeis (Justice Center), Terrence Kelly (Philosophy),  and acting as moderator Paola Banchero (Journalism and Public Communications). The panel discussed the impact of social contract theory on western society, examining topics such as John Rawls' re-conceptualization of the social contract, the possible end of the social contract brought about by emerging technology, the War on Terror, efforts to police the Internet, and corporate personhood. A standing room only crowd gathered on a snowy Alaska evening to discuss these important issues.


Rachel Epstein and her team at the bookstore not only organized the event and put together the wonderful poster at right, but also have produced a podcast of the proceedings.


 [posted 23 March 2012]


Prof. Shannon's Latest Essay Examines
The Human Rights Revolution

Dr. Kelly Shannon with Recent PublicationProf. Kelly Shannon has a new essay included in the collection The Human Rights Revolution: An International History, eds. Akira Iriye, Petra Goedde, and William I. Hitchcock (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).  The book is the result of two different events: a 2004 AHA session "Writing the Global History of Human Rights" and the 2008 Temple University International History Workshop on "Human Rights as International History."  The two groups of historians joined forces - brought together by Oxford editor extraordinaire Susan Ferber - and this "state of the field" volume is the result.  

Prof. Shannon's chapter focuses on "The Right to Bodily Integrity: Women's Rights as Human Rights and the International Movement to End Female Genital Mutilation, 1970s-1990s."  It traces the development of an international movement of women's rights activists - both western and women from FGM-practicing countries - to end the practice of FGM from the 1970s through the 1990s.  The chapter argues that earlier concepts of human rights, which were limited to "public," state-level human rights abuses committed by states, caused the international community to ignore the issue in the 1960s, despite requests by African women for the UN and other international bodies to take up the issue.  However, galvanized by the transnational feminist and human rights movements of the 1970s, women began to form a truly international movement in the 1970s and 1980s that cast FGM as a health issue.  By the early 1990s, however, it became apparent that the health approach had failed.  Some FGM-practicing communities new the health risks of the various procedures that constitute FGM, but they believed the social risks of not cutting their daughters outweighed the health risks.  Others simply medicalized the procedure, taking their daughters to doctors to have the cutting procedures done in hospitals.  In 1993, however, a re-energized transnational feminist movement successfully lobbied the United Nations to declare that women's rights ARE human rights and to break down the public/private dichotomy that had prevented international bodies from addressing human rights violations against women, which often occur in the private sphere are are often, as in the case of FGM, not committed by the state.  This development in international law helped anti-FGM activists to regroup and cast FGM as a human rights violation.  Thereafter, several countries passed laws banning the practice, ranging from western nations like the United States to FGM-practicing countries like Egypt.  Though the battle to end FGM is still ongoing, this moment marks a key turning point in the history of human rights and women's rights.  The case of the anti-FGM movement illustrates how transnational activists successfully lobbied both the UN and national governments to take women's human rights seriously in the 1990s, part of the ongoing human rights revolution.

[posted 23 February 2012]


UAA Historians Present New Research
on the American West

Western History Association LogoThe UAA History Department made a good showing at the annual meeting of the Western History Association in Oakland, California held October 13-16, 2011.  Professors Mark Schreiter and Elizabeth James each presented their research.  Dr. Schreiter delivered a paper entitled “Commodifying the Wild: The Emergence of an Outfitting Industry in Idaho’s River of No Return Backcountry” during the session The Business and Culture of Sport in the West.  Dr. James’ presentation, “American Indians, Tuberculosis, and Reformers: Fighting the ‘White Plague’ 1882-1942” was part of the session The Diseased West: Plagues and Progressives on the Pacific Coast, which was chaired by former UAA Provost Beverly Beeton.

[posted 10 November 2011]


UAA History Faculty at the 2011 Egan Day DinnerHistory Faculty Step Out
for Student Scholarships

On Saturday, 8 October 2011, the faculty of the History Department sponsored a table at the annual William A. Egan Day Dinner, whose proceeds fund scholarships for students at UAA.

William A. Egan (1914-1984) was the first Governor of the state of Alaska, serving from 1959 until 1966 and was re-elected for another term from 1970 until 1974. The Governor William A. Egan Scholarship was established to honor the accomplishments of Governor Egan and his vision for Alaska by creating scholarships for future Alaska leaders.

 [posted 20 October 2011]


Prof. Gavorsky’s Essay Included in New Collection
on Nineteenth-Century French Institutions

Prof. Scott A. GavorskyProf. Scott A. Gavorsky's latest essay, “L’Etat comme propriétaire? Schools as Property in Nineteenth-Century France,” is included in a new  collection entitled Institutions and Power in Nineteenth-Century French Literature and Culture, edited by David Evans and Kate Griffiths. The collection was the result of a conference held at Cambridge University, and is now available from Ropodi Press.

Prof. Gavorsky’s work examines the creation of the concept of schools as a form of absolute property under French law. Originally designed in 1816 to encourage investment by private groups in public education following the French Revolution and Napoleonic periods, treating schools as the personal property of a founding individual or group created significant problems for the French state in nationalizing education policy for the remainder of the nineteenth century. Once schools became seen as property, demands of the state to select teachers, set curriculum standards, and even close the schools could be resisted by an appeal to the “owner’s” property rights. 

Given that many of these schools operated similarly to modern American charter schools, the French example provides insight into the inadvertent limitations on public policy that are created in an effort to encourage greater private-public partnerships.

[posted 11 October 2011]


Dr. Black Presents Holocaust Talk to Packed House

Dr. Peter Black presentsOn Friday, 16 September 2011, Dr. Peter  Black, Senior Historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, delivered a talk on "Nazi Racial Warfare and the German Invasion of the Soviet Union--70 Years Later."

A former member of a team tracking and prosecuting suspected war criminals for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, Dr. Black brought extensive experience on the Holocaust, Nazi racial ideology, and the role of the 1941 invasion to Soviet Union to elucidate the extensive connections between various aspects of Nazi society.

The talk attracted a full house, filling Rasmuson Hall 101 to capacity.

[updated 4 October 2011]


Professor Paul Dunscomb, September 2011Prof. Dunscomb Promoted
to full Professor

The History Department started the year with the notice that Dr. Paul E. Dunscomb has been promoted to full Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The rank of full Professor is the highest academic rank generally awarded at UAA. The position reflects the contributions of Prof. Dunscomb's scholary research, his devotion to teaching, and his service to the university and the broader Alaska community. The appointment coincided with Prof. Dunscomb's tenth year anniversary here at UAA. 

[posted 19 September 2011]



Trawniki Auxiliary Guards and Soviet Civilians"Nazi Racial Warfare and the German Invasion of the
Soviet Union-- 70 Years Later"

Dr. Peter Black
Friday, 16 September 2011, 7pm-9pm
Rasmuson Hall 101

The History Department is pleased to present a special talk by Dr. Peter Black, Senior Historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Dr. Black will speak on the links between Nazi racial policy, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, and the Holocaust.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Black worked for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, as part of a team tracking and prosecuting suspected war criminals. Dr. Black also has recently published work on the trawniki, the auxiliary non-German concentration and death camp guards.

Dr. Black’s visit and speech has been made possible by the contributions and support of the CAS Dean’s Office, CAS Humanities Division, University Advancement, and the History Department.

The lecture will be given at UAA, Rasmuson Hall 101 on Friday, September 16 at 7 p.m. The event is free, and open to the UAA community and the public. Download Event Flyer

[posted 12 September 2011]


celebrationBack-to-School Student and
New Faculty Breakfast Reception

The History Department invites all history majors to a Back-to-School Breakfast reception on Tuesday, 27 September 2011. The Reception will be held over Continental Breakfast from 9:15am - 11:00am in the History Department (Admin 147B).

Students are particularly invited to attend and meet our new faculty members, Profs. Shannon and Hartman.

[updated 12 September 2011]


History Department Looks Forward to the
2011-2012 Academic Year!

UAA Department of History Faculty Welcome Back Lunch


Prof. Shannon's Eventful Summer

2011-Shannon-AlcatrazOn May 21, I got married at the Free Library of Philadelphia. My husband, Jason Sylvestre, and I honeymooned in Napa and San Francisco in July.  While in California, we visited Alcatraz Prison, and I was happy to see that slogans scrawled on the prison walls during the 1969 Native American protest/occupation of the island (which I teach about in HIS 132) are still there.  In early June, I presented a paper at the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, which met at UMass-Amherst, on a panel that I organized on women and U.S. foreign policy. My paper examined the Clinton Administration's decision not to recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996-1998 because of how the Taliban treated women.  I presented a similar paper in late June on a panel on U.S.-Islamic relations since the 1970s at the annual conference of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, which met in Alexandria, VA.  A few days later, I traveled to Washington D.C. to interview a Theresa Loar, a former member of the Clinton Administration, for my book project, Veiled Intentions: Islam, Global Feminism, and U.S. Foreign Policy Since the Late 1970s.  I am also currently working on a historiographical chapter on Truman's policies toward the Middle East for the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to Harry Truman volume.  

[posted 2 September 2011]


History Department welcomes Prof. Hartman

Prof. Ian C. HartmanThe History Department is pleased to welcome Dr. Ian Hartman to UAA. Prof. Hartman will be joining us for the 2011-2012 academic year, teaching the U.S. History sequence.

Prof. Hartman's research interests in American history concern the intersection of race, politics and culture. His dissertation, entitled "From Daniel Boone to the Beverly Hillbillies: Tales of a 'Fallen' Race, 1873-1968," was recently completed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prof. Hartman joins us after a summer trip up the Alcan.

[posted 2 September 2011]


Oregon Historical Quarterly Summer 2011 coverProf. James Continues Research
Projects on Native American History

Professor James continued research on her book about the history of the Tundra Times this summer.  In August, she presented a paper about the newspaper’s role in the founding of the Alaska Federation of Natives at the meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association in Seattle.  While in the Northwest, Professor James also revisited the Nez Perce reservation, the site of her article “’Hardly a Family is Free From the Disease’:  Tuberculosis, Health Care, and Assimilation Policy on the Nez Perce Reservation, 1908-1942” which appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of the Oregon Historical Quarterly.  Professor James also traveled to California, where she visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the John Steinbeck Center – sites she highly recommends to others.  Professor James also enjoyed a weekend on Yukon Island, participating in a non-credit course on birds, plants, and fungi of the area.  Finally, Professor James had the opportunity to review several wonderful books over the summer for her role as chair of the Western History Association’s Joan Patterson Kerr book award.

[posted 24 August 2011]

Prof. Gavorsky Mines French Archives

Example of 19th Century PedagogyWith the aid of a UAA Faculty Development Grant, Prof. Gavorsky spent the summer visiting French archives in preparation for a new book project, tentatively entitled A Tale of Two Societies: Charter Schools in Nineteenth Century France. It was also a wonderful opportunity to revisit friends and colleagues in France.

The book tells the story of the western French city of Angers and the two private organizations that together operated the public schools in the city for most of the century. The Association Religieuse et Royale and its rival the Société pour l'encouragement d'enseignement élémentaire operated what were in effect charter schools, funded through a combination of private funds and public subsidies. The major difference with American schools is that these schools were free, and provided the only such education in Angers for almost 50 years. Prof. Gavorsky conducted research in archives in Paris, Angers and Rennes.

[posted 24 August 2011]


Distinguished Professor Haycox on "The Nobility of History"

Distinguished Emeritus Professor Stephen W. HaycoxDistinguished Emeritus Professor Stephen W. Haycox honored the attendees with second annual Phi Alpha Theta banquet on 26 February 2011 with an address on "The Nobility of History."

In the address, Prof. Haycox reflects on the status of the field of history and examines the history of history as well. Despite the numerous criticisms of the "utility" of history and its applicability to modern society, Prof. Haycox concludes that as a discipline history now has the ability to return to its roots, to contemplate and to comment on the great questions of the human experience.

Download "The Nobility of History" (.pdf file)

[posted 15 April 2011]