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History Department celebrates newly published professors

<nday April 17th, Carleton’s students, faculty, and staff were welcomed into Leighton to celebrate the forthcoming of four new books published by Carleton Professors: Serena Zabin, Assistant Professor of History, Andrew Fisher, Assistant Professor of History, Clifford Clark, Professor of History and M.A. and A.D. Hulings Professor of American Studies, and Jamie Monson, Professor of History.

Clark has published the sixth edition of “The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People,” referred to as “the concise edition”, since it has been edited down from its previous edition of 1,009 pages to 787. The edition was published by Wadsworth Cengage Publishing Company. It is a history survey that integrates political, social, and cultural history and is “known for its innovative coverage of public health, [and] the environment.” The original publication of the book was in 1989.

Clark says the hardest part of this publication was “Making the cuts without sacrificing the interesting details.” He says his editors were very supportive and that he is most proud of “the ways in which the text has been reformatted and tied into the website.”

Clark will continue work on the book for subsequent publications. He says, “I am now in the process of adding new material and making an additional ten percent reduction for the 7th edition. The book is revised every four years to keep up with changes in the American presidency.”

Fisher’s book is entitled “Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America.” According to its website, it offers “nuanced interpretations of identity as they investigate how Iberian settlers, African slaves, Native Americans, and their multi-ethnic progeny understood who they were as individuals, as members of various communities, and as imperial subjects…[spanning] the entire colonial period and beyond: from early contact to the legacy of colonial identities in the new republics of the 19th Century”.

The book was published by Duke University Press and is co-authored by Matthew D. O’Hara.

Fisher said the inspiration for the book came from “a series of informal conversations with a few friends and colleagues and the realization that our field has been shaped… profoundly over the last generation by historians’ interest in understanding the processes of identity formation in various parts of colonial Latin America, and yet very few efforts have been made to form a more global picture.”

Fisher recalls two challenges in particular. “First, the co-authored introductory essay was much more difficult to pull off than I think my colleague and I had…imagined, especially given…the long-distance communication. Second, the act of deciding which scholars to invite…as we knew that the ten or so essays that were to make up the book had to span the length of the colonial era and cover both Spanish and Portuguese America.”

Fisher says in reflection, “It is a good feeling to know that this project has been concluded. It feels even better, though, to know that I can turn my attention fully to completing my own research project on this topic. I am proud that we have put together a volume that speaks to both our colleagues at other colleges and universities, as well as the students we teach.”

Monson’s publication is titled, “Africa’s Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania.” It was published by Indian University Press.

The book discussed the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority which was originally built during the cold war, and reconstructed by communist China becoming “one of Africa’s most vital transportation corridors”. The book “Draw[s] on first-hand experiences of engineers and laborers together with life histories of traders who used the railway…Monson tracks the railroad from its design and construction to its daily use as a passenger train.”

Jamie Monson is traveling in East and Southeast Asia during the next several months.

Zabin’s book, “Dangerous Economies: Status and Commerce in Imperial New York,” was published by University of Pennsylvania Press. It is “a history of New York culture and commerce in the first two thirds of the eighteenth century” and discusses how “New York’s culture emerged within the volatile forces of imperial politics and commerce”.

According to its website, the book discusses New York culture and how “such a mobile urban milieu was the ideal breeding ground for crime and conspiracy, which became all too evident in 1741, when thirty slaves were executed and more than seventy other people were deported after being found guilty—on dubious evidence—of plotting a revolt.”

Zabin says this effort stemmed from an experience in graduate school when she “stumbled upon an account of a suspected slave conspiracy in New York City in 1741, written by one of the judges in the case”. She says, “It read just like a murder mystery…but it didn’t have that nice conclusion in which the author ties up all the loose ends. Trying to figure out what happened in New York in the 1740s, trying to discover whether the city’s slaves really planned a massive uprising to burn down the city and deliver it to the enemy Spanish…led me right into the heart of what it meant to live in New York when it was a part of the British Empire.”

Zabin also sees the connection her work has to current times. “In our current economic meltdown, I have been both horrified and amused to realize that the same social factors of credit and credibility that I saw in eighteenth-century capitalism. The specific dangers of the economy may have shifted, but we haven’t moved nearly as far…as we sometimes like to think.”

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