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Chabraja Center Happenings

The Chabraja Center for Historical Studies

Leopold Fellows with Jason Nargis
Some of the Center’s undergraduate Leopold Fellows attended a Fall session with Special Collections librarian Jason Nargis to learn more about archival research
Marisa Fuentes and graduate students
Fall guest speaker Marisa Fuentes (Rutgers) talking with graduate students at the Center after her public lecture

After two terms as Director Sarah Maza went on well-deserved leave and Jonathon Glassman, a historian of Africa, took over in September 2019. The Fall quarter brought several eminent speakers for Center events, all extremely well attended and stimulating. Our lunchtime lectures featured two guests, both coincidentally from Rutgers: Marisa Fuentes, who gave a poignant talk on “refuse slaves” in the transatlantic trade, and Ann Fabian, who lectured on herpetology and repressed sexual passion in the early history of the American Museum of Natural History. Dariusz Stola of the Polish Academy of Sciences gave the annual lecture sponsored jointly with the Holocaust Educational Foundation (HEF), speaking about the award-winning Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, of which he was the founding Director. He also gave a talk at the Evanston Public Library on Polish debates on the Holocaust, addressing a good community crowd. As usual, the Center co-sponsored a variety of activities with other campus units; in the Fall these included a Radio/TV/Film conference, several workshops, and activities involving the Mexican Intelligence Archives and the Northwestern Prison Education Program.

The Chabraja Center continues to advance historical scholarship among Northwestern undergraduates through the Leopold Fellowship program. This year we welcomed an unusually large cohort of 26 Leopold Fellows, a dozen of whom started archival research for their faculty sponsors’ projects in the summer. In December, eight gave short research presentations to their peers, faculty sponsors and Center associates, in a festive and stimulating event that we plan to repeat at the end of each quarter. Undergraduates also benefit from the Center’s recently created Course Development Fellowship, which allows a senior faculty member to design a new, broad-ranging lecture course working collaboratively with a graduate student. This year the Department is offering a winter course on “The Black Death and Other Pandemics,” developed in the Fall by Dyan Elliott, assisted by graduate student Marcos Leitão De Almeida.

Each year the Center supports four graduate and three postdoctoral fellows. In addition to advancing and sharing their scholarly research, the fellows make other contributions to the intellectual life of the campus and broader community. The postdoctoral fellows each teach a course in the department, and the Chabraja Postdoctoral Fellow in Public Service works in tandem with a Chicago-area non-profit: in recent years these have included the American Bar Foundation and the human-rights organization Unsilence. Among the graduate fellows’ contributions is the organization of scholarly conferences. In Spring 2019 those conferences were on the histories of migrations and on visions of the future in history; presenters included students who were visiting as part of the Center’s ongoing partnership with Hong Kong University and Queen Mary University of London. In addition, students holding summer Chabraja Summer Research Fellowships have worked with Chicago-area non-profits such as the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Timeline Theater, and the Leather Archive and Museum.

More on all these activities can be seen on the CCHS website.

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