By Amy E. Earhart and Maura Ives
As literary scholars who work with both print and digital materials, and are interested in the production, construction, and materiality of texts, we believe that a book history approach reveals crucial information about the impact of race on what print materials are digitized. As Earhart has documented in “Can Information Be Unfettered? Race and the New Digital Humanities Canon,” there are clear inequities in our digitization of materials that break along the lines of race and gender.
On a recent cover of the New Yorker (October 23, 2017), robots purposefully stride to their jobs; the only human in sight is unemployed and begging for change. We are warned: this could be our future. The illustration perfectly captures the current anxiety about automation’s impact on the workplace.
Every week, AHA Today showcases a new grant, fellowship, or scholarship of interest to historians which has been posted to our free Calendar. This week we are featuring the Herbert Gutman Dissertation Prize from the Labor and Working-Class History Association.
By Brenda E. Stevenson
“No justice, no peace!” was the anthem of the day in late April 1992 in Los Angeles as local blacks, Latinos/as, and even a sprinkling of Asian Americans and whites joined in the five day “rebellion” that purportedly underscored the injustice of the verdict in the Rodney King police brutality trial. It ended with a devastating toll of losses—54 deaths, more than 2,300 injuries, 3,600 fires, 1,100 buildings destroyed, 4,500 businesses looted, more than 12,000 arrested, and $1 billion in damage.
Melinda Chateauvert is an associate director of the Front Porch Research Strategy in New Orleans, Louisiana. She divides her year between New Orleans and Washington, DC, and has been a member of the AHA since 1992.
For the past 10 years digital archives and crowdsourcing have been popular forms of digital history, as scholars have harnessed the power of both massive servers and a willing public to digitize and transcribe diverse types of historical material ranging from menus to weather reports. Few have excited me as much as Colored Conventions. A work of impressive scholarship, important activism, and valuable pedagogy, the Colored Conventions Project (CCP) hits for the cycle. The primary goal of the CCP is to recover an understudied aspect of the 19th-century reform movement, black conventions.
By Premilla Nadasen
Twenty years ago this month, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). The act transformed Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), a federal entitlement program for poor single parents and their children, into block grants, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families with the aim of removing people from the welfare rolls. Passed with bipartisan support, the 1996 act reflected a liberal/conservative consensus around the racialized nature of welfare and the need to encourage work rather than dependency.
Last month, controversy erupted again in California over the portrayal of the South Asian subcontinent in history textbooks. Among the disputed points was whether schools in California should teach Dalit history and the history of the caste system to students. While the word “Dalit” may ring unfamiliar to most outside the subcontinent, Dalit history is a burgeoning field of study in academia, both in the United States and India alike. We caught up with historian Ramnarayan Rawat (Univ. of Delaware), co-editor of the recently released Dalit Studies (2016), to ask him what Dalit studies is and what the future of the field looks like.