As is the custom, the February issue opens with this year’s AHA Presidential Address, “White Freedom and the Lady of Liberty,” by Tyler Stovall (University of California, Santa Cruz), who served as AHA President in 2017. In what could hardly be a more timely set of remarks, Stovall argues that one of the most recognizable images of freedom in the modern world, the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, has a darker history than is usually acknowledged. Examining both the statue’s origins in France’s Third Republic and its subsequent history as a public monument in America, Stovall considers Lady Liberty’s role as a beacon of whiteness. Ultimately, he concludes, a reckoning with the statue’s role as a racial symbol directs our attention to the racialized nature of definitions of freedom in the modern world. Regular readers of the journal will know that we often publish a collation of interlinked articles called an AHR Forum, accompanied by an introductory essay or closing comment (see December 2017’s “Follow the Money”). Quite often, the forum does not come to us prepackaged, as a single submission, but is “curated”—in today’s parlance—by the editors by combining separately submitted, but clearly related, articles. This may be serendipitous, but it also reflects our faith that in this era of increasingly “unbundled” academic publishing, the single-volume journal aiming to be more than the sum of its parts still has an important role to play in advancing scholarship and building intellectual community. In this issue, we feature a forum consisting of three articles that came to us independently, yet that all address in some fashion the role of “affect” or feeling in mediating gendered social relations. At first glance, these pieces, grouped under the title “Gendered Bodies, Mediated Lives: New Directions in Women’s History,” may strike readers as quite disparate. Joanne M. Ferraro (San Diego State University), in “Making a Living: The Sex Trade in Early Modern Venice,” examines how women in the eighteenth-century republican city participated in sex work to advance their economic fortunes and social autonomy. Drawing on women’s testimony before the deliciously named tribunal “Executors against Blasphemy,” Ferraro argues that Venetian prostitution remained deeply embedded in the city-state’s economic life and household organization. The crucial breakthrough here is that Ferraro’s evidence allows her to recount this tale from the perspective of the women themselves, rather than through the eyes of their moralizing interlocutors. Speaking of moralizing interlocutors, Victorian-era mothers in Britain faced plenty of those as well. In “The Emotions of Motherhood: Love, Culture, and Poverty in Victorian Britain,” Emma Griffin (University of East Anglia) mines hundreds of autobiographies to consider the emotional terrain of maternal love. Griffin contends that historicizing differential norms surrounding motherhood can alert the historian to a wide range of gendered emotional experiences. Her account of the not always happy relationships between parents and children offers us a glimpse into the “emotional regime” of working-class Victorian motherhood. But her article also casts light on the methodological challenges inherent in charting interior lives that may be even less discernible in the lived present than they were in their own time. The final article in the forum, by Rebecca Jinks (Royal Holloway, University of London), revisits a topic treated by Keith David Watenpaugh in the pages of the AHR eight years ago: the humanitarian efforts to “rescue” Armenian women who were forcibly incorporated into Turkish, Kurdish, and Bedouin households in the aftermath of the 1915 genocide on the Anatolian peninsula. In contrast to that earlier article, Jinks’s “‘Marks Hard to Erase’: The Troubled Reclamation of ‘Absorbed’ Armenian Women, 1919–1927,” focuses on debates about the relative “recuperability” of these female captives, as measured by the tattoos that bore witness to their experience of capture and exile. Here the affective relationships between female relief workers and the women they sought to “save” were co-determined by corporeal marks that identified individual women as potentially unworthy investments in relief organizations’ project of national reconstruction. Through the lens of gender, Jinks concludes that modern humanitarianism continues to bear this classificatory habit of distinguishing those worthy of rescue from those rendered unredeemable by their ordeal. As her richly illustrated article suggests, visual representations of those in need served as tokens of worthiness, and thus offer a way into this historical narrative. Of course, the risk in conjoining scholarship that comes to us separately is that the articles at hand remain only tangentially connected. We assigned Jocelyn Olcott (Duke University) the task of drawing the work of Ferraro, Griffin, and Jinks into a common frame. Olcott’s comment, “Public in a Domestic Sense: Sex Work, Nation-Building, and Class Identification in Modern Europe,” comes from her perspective as a scholar of twentieth-century Latin American women’s history, honed by a historiographic tradition and a set of preoccupations very different from those of the three authors, who are all scholars of European history. Olcott observes that these histories of “domesticity and affect,” while derived from distinctive national and social contexts, together call attention to the permeability between public and private realms of women’s lives, a powerful trope in the study of Latin American women. Moreover, while they draw on diverse sources—legal proceedings, personal narratives, and visual representations—Olcott reminds us that all three articles keep women in the forefront of the action. If the articles in the forum rely on traditional methodologies to ask new questions, the following article, “The Spine of American Law: Digital Text Analysis and U.S. Legal Practice,” by Kellen Funk (Princeton University) and Lincoln A. Mullen (George Mason University), applies the tools of digital text analysis to wrest new meaning from old sources. Digitization makes possible macro-analysis of 38,000 pages of nineteenth-century U.S. civil procedure statutes scattered across multiple jurisdictions, but based on a code adapted from statutes originally codified in New York. The patterns thus revealed, they contend, show how creditors’ legal remedies against debtors reflected a shift from the rhythms of agriculture to those of emergent merchant capitalism in the wake of the U.S. Civil War. This shift, in turn, helped unite the southern and western states against legal procedures emanating from the heart of American financial power in New York. Funk and Mullen have made their data available at https://academic.oup.com/ahr/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ahr/123.1.132#supplementary-data. Also online is an audio podcast, an “AHR Interview” with Funk and Mullen, in which they describe their methodology in greater depth (https://soundcloud.com/aha-historians/sets/ahr-interview). The February issue also inaugurates a new feature, long in the works, titled “Reappraisals.” Conceived of by former Editor Robert Schneider, these short essays will allow scholars to reconsider in depth an influential historical work, and to measure its impact on a wide swath of historiography after a decent interval has passed. Here, John H. Arnold (University of Cambridge) offers his reassessment of R. I. Moore’s The Formation of a Persecuting Society, originally published in 1987. Moore, Arnold reminds us, reconfigured the way medievalists approached the question of heresy, recognizing anti-heretical campaigns as part of a broader campaign of church and state to secure their hegemony. Arnold shows that the questions Moore’s book posed about the relationships between repression, power, and social organization had implications far beyond the field of medieval studies. We have several more “Reappraisals” in the pipeline, and intend to make these essays a regular feature of the journal. We invite suggestions for texts deserving of such reconsideration. Finally, recent books by Max Bergholz, Daniel Magaziner, Charles Maier, and Kim Priemel receive extended consideration in our February “Featured Reviews” section. Here readers will find a wide variety of topics on offer that can be read together fruitfully: territoriality in world history, nationalism and violence in the Balkans, the Nuremberg trials, and artistic training under South African apartheid. Future issues of the AHR will expand these types of featured reviews beyond current monographs to films, museums, documentary collections, and even historical fiction. Indeed, April’s issue will begin this trend with a handful of reviews of recent films—both documentary and fictional—on African history. It will also contain our next installment in “Reappraisals,” an essay on Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities. These will be joined by articles on the ceremonial expression of power in the sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire, the nature of state socialism in North Korea, and the politics of developmental aid in the former British Empire during the 1960s. Finally, the April issue will offer a major—and timely—state-of-the-field essay by Paul Kramer linking the historiographies of U.S. foreign and immigration policies as histories of “mobility regimes.” © The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press.
The American Historical Review – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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