Natalie Zemon Davis (1928-2023) : A Remembrance

Bonnie G. Smith recalls Natalie Zemon Davis’s profound influence on the field of women’s history here.

Best Article Prize

At the 2023 meeting of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, the Editorial Board of the Journal of Women’s History awarded two prizes for the best articles published in the past three years.

For 2021-22

Winner: Jacqueline Allain, “Maria Griffin, et al.: Slavery’s Intimate World,” Journal of Women’s History 34, no. 4 (Winter 2022): 15-35.

Allain’s article is a beautifully written and deft analysis of the complexity of “intimacy” through the efforts of one enslaved woman named Maria Griffin to protect and secure her family. She had four children with her slaveowner, who freed her and her children upon his death in 1859, and bequeathed his estate to their children, launching a decades long court battle with his white family. While Maria suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the father of her children and other white men, Allain also illuminates the multiple meanings she may have attributed to these relationships, especially given her love and devotion to her children. In doing so, Allain joins other scholars in expanding the historical complexity of intimacy as a category that includes both violence and affection, and the cost as well as the imperative for historians to investigate the private lives of enslaved women. As she concludes, “This work vests in the simple avowal that she was there—despite everything. Maria Griffin was there. This is an avowal that exceeds the historical and historiographical insights her story yields.”

For 2019-20

Winner: Satyasikha Chakraborty, “’Nurses of our Ocean Highways’: The Precarious Metropolitan Lives of Colonial South Asian Ayahs,” Journal of Women’s History 32, No. 2 (Summer 2020): 37-64.

Chakraborty offers a complex, multi-layered analysis of the precarity of South Asian Ayahs (or nursemaids), who traveled with families to Britain only to be denied pay and abandoned with no way to return home. Chakraborty foregrounds the experiences and anxieties of the Ayahs themselves, examining their struggle to maintain their caste status and respectability in the face of liberal and imperial policies that ignored their relationships with their employers as a private matter. Despite cultural tributes to the devotion and love between Ayahs and British families, in 1858, 140 impoverished Ayahs resided in London and specific residences, such as the Ayah’s Home, were established to care for them. The committee especially appreciated the way Chakraborty analyzed her different sources in their rich social context.

Honorable Mention:

Michelle Chase, “’Hands off Korea!’: Women’s Internationalist Solidarity and Peace Activism in Early Cold War Cuba,” Journal of Women’s History 32, no. 3 (Fall 2020): 64-88.

Chase’s article redefines Cuba’s Hands Off Korea campaign from 1950-51 as a women’s anti-war movement, arguing that women played a key role due to their involvement in international networks such as the Women’s International Democratic Federation and its local affiliate the Democratic Federation of Cuban Women. These organizations fostered south-south connections and critiqued war and imperialism as obstacles to women’s rights. She shows that women’s radical organizing not only preceded the 1959 Cuban revolution it also grew from an international context of organizing across the global south.

Best Doctoral Student Research Paper

The Editorial Board also continues its tradition of awarding a prize for the Best Doctoral Student Research Paper in the history of women, gender, and sexualities, along with the opportunity to revise for possible publication in the Journal of Women’s History.

This year’s winner is Niyati Misra Shenoy, a graduate student at Columbia University in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies. Shenoy’s paper, “A Predator’s Tracks: Sexual Violence and the Railways Workforce in Colonial India,” offers a complex analysis of a legally and socially “enforced helplessness” that was supposed to protect women rail travelers by placing them under the protection of railway workers but actually made it much easier for those male rail workers to assault women travelers as they were isolated from other passengers and subject to rail workers’ authority. It is that “enforced helplessness” that Shenoy analyzes as “its own circular engine,” keeping women subject to sexual oppression without redress.

This committee also awards an honorable mention to Carolyn Zola, a graduate student in History at Stanford University, for her paper, “On the Margins: Black Women Food Sellers in the Antebellum North.” Zola’s paper is clearly and convincingly argued, engages a new aspect of a small section of established historiography, and covers a period beyond the well-rehearsed late 19th and 20th centuries.

New this year, the Editorial Board has instituted two research grant competitions–a Dissertation Travel grant and a Scholars Research grant.

Dissertation Travel Grant

Winner: Marie Robin

Marie Robin’s proposed project is titled “Managing Sex Overseas in the French Army: Bordel Militaire de Campagne (Mobile Field Brothels), Sexual Violence, and Decolonization in Vietnam and Algeria (c. 1940-1960s).” This project highlights the French Army’s regulation of its soldiers’ sexuality in the mid-twentieth century.

Scholars Research Grant

Winner: Tshepo Chéry

Chéry’s proposed project is titled “Melodies of Change: The Politics and Embodiment of Miriam Makeba.” It focuses on the anti-apartheid activism of a high-profile South African musician.

The JWH Editorial Board is proud to publish and support the research of these established and rising scholars. We hope you, your colleagues in the histories of women, genders, and sexualities and your students will continue to submit to the journal and compete for our awards and grants in the future.

JWH Research Grants

The Board of Trustees of the Journal of Women’s History is proud to announce two research grants for scholars in the fields of transnational women’s and gender history.

The Jean Quataert Dissertation Travel Grant: Funds will be used to support travel to archives and libraries for dissertation research. One grant will be awarded each year. Individual grants will not exceed $4000. Recipients are asked to acknowledge the JWH Board in their dissertation, and in any resulting publications.

Who is Eligible: Ph.D. students in History or related fields, conducting research on a significant topic in transnational women’s and gender history.

Application Process: Application form with contact information, title, specific budget, previous and current grants. CV (limit 5 pages), Research Statement (1000 words) summarizing the project and specific uses for funds, Bibliography (1 page) identifying the most recent and relevant secondary sources.

The Journal of Women’s History Scholars Research Grant: Funds will be used to support travel, research, or writing of a significant scholarly contribution in the fields of women’s and gender history, with a preference for transnational topics. Individual grants will not exceed $4000. Recipients are asked to acknowledge the JWH Board in publications that result from research conducted during this award.

Who is Eligible: All historians of women and gender are eligible, including those employed at universities, secondary schools, archives, libraries, museums, and parks. Priority will go to those scholars who are unaffiliated, adjunct, early career, or who lack access to research funding through their own institutions.

Application Process: Application form with contact information, title, specific budget, previous and current grants. CV (limit 5 pages), Research Statement (1000 words) summarizing the project and specific uses for funds, Bibliography (1 page) identifying the most recent and relevant secondary sources.