The Lapidus Center Fellowships are part of the Scholars-in-Residence Program, housed in the Scholars Center. The program encourages research and writing on black history and culture, facilitates interaction among participating scholars, and provides widespread dissemination of findings through lectures, publications, and colloquia and seminars.
2016-2017 Long-term Fellows
We are pleased to welcome our new Long-term Lapidus Center Fellows, Dr. Anthony Di Lorenzo and Dr. Philip Misevich. They will begin their tenure in September, 2016 and will be with us until March 1, 2017.
Di Lorenzo’s book project, A Higher Law: Anti-Slavery Radicalism in Early America, 1760-1800, recovers and analyzes the most radical voices in the early abolitionist movement, tracing the ideological divisions that arose during the Age of Revolution. The cause of antislavery in New York brought together even bitter political opponents such as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, for a time, but partisanship stifled radical challenges to the institution of slavery by the late 1790s. The politicization of antislavery activity during this period undermined black political participation and encouraged excessive gradualism. Enslavement, even in the North, was therefore allowed to persist well into the nineteenth century.
Misevich’s project examines the relationship between abolition, colonization and the social, political and economic changes they sparked in southern Sierra Leone between 1790 and 1860. During that period Britain established Freetown, its first antislavery base in Africa, and from that settlement aimed to suppress the transatlantic slave trade across West Africa. His research examines how Africans living on Freetown’s frontier responded to the joint pressures of abolition and colonization, considering how they shaped and challenged these complex and interrelated processes. It aims to understand abolition from an African perspective and through the use of African voices.
2016-2017 Short-term Fellows
Westenley Alcenat is a PhD student at Columbia University.
His project titled, “The Elusive Quest: Black Emigration to Haiti and the Struggle for Full Citizenship in a White Republic, 1815-1865,” explores the experience and radicalism of the African-American settlers who emigrated to Haiti in the nineteenth century. His research focuses on how this migration movement influenced African-American and Haitian political thought and the transnational struggle for Black citizenship before and during the American Civil War.
Marlene L. Daut is an Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies and the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies at Claremont Graduate University and The Claremont Colleges.
Dr. Daut’s book project is a comparative anthology of fictional works on the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) that represents the first attempt to connect in one volume the over 150 novels, poetry, and plays that were written about the slave revolts and military strikes in Saint-Domingue in the long 19th-century. These excerpts include fictional representations of the Haitian Revolution from 1791-1900 by U.S., German, West Indian, Brazilian, Italian, French, British, and Polish authors.
Jonathan Lande is a PhD student at Brown University.
Breaking from triumphalist narratives of black Union troops, his research offers a new interpretation of black soldiers and emancipation during the U.S. Civil War. The project places black men’s military service within a transatlantic context as a form of labor where former slaves went from laboring in cotton fields to laboring as soldiers. In training them as soldiers, the Union army disciplined black men, but many thought military discipline and racist officers essentially replicated slavery. As such, thousands deserted and mutinied—asserting freedom beyond the limited sort provided by military service—but were often captured, tried in the courts-martial, and punished. The project analyzes how their resistance and passage through the military justice system shaped emancipation and limited freedom.
Neal D. Polhemus received his PhD from the University of South Carolina.
As a Ph.D. candidate in the final stages of my degree, it has been an honor and a pleasure to receive a three-month residential fellowship from the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic. The fellowship has allowed me to visit, investigate and collect documentary evidence from six area archives and repositories. From the Melville and Frances Herskovits Papers at the Schomburg Center, I was able to document the ways in which Dahomian and Ghanaian elites controlled access to inland supply routes where captive Africans were seized. The Herskovits Papers also provided documentation of how West African folkloric traditions present during the era of the transatlantic slave trade continued to be integral parts of daily life for many Africans decades after the trade was abolished.The Afro-Latin American collection, also at the Schomburg Center, provided documentation on the commercial operation of the slave trade in colonial Buenos Aires and the ethnic composition of captives arriving in Spanish Caribbean ports.Another important collection housed at the Schomburg Center was the Slave Ship Fanny collection. These papers provided depositions and firsthand accounts taken during judicial proceedings after the ship was seized off the Bahamas in the winter of 1800. As the Bahama Islands were one of the most important terminals for the transshipment of captives in the intercolonial slave trade, these papers provided important documentation on the operation of the trade to secondary markets in Spanish America. In addition, several of the maps, images and illustrations on the Africana and Black History digital collection were incorporated into three dissertation chapters. The Lapidus Center fellowship provided me with the resources necessary to explore underutilized manuscript collections that have considerably bolstered the arguments made in my dissertation that would not have been possible otherwise.
2015-2016 Long-term Fellows
In “More Auspicious Shores:” Post-emancipation Barbadian Emigrants in Pursuit of Freedom, Citizenship, and Nationhood in Liberia, 1834-1912 – the project she worked on as a Lapidus Center fellow – Banton uses the narrative of the efforts of a group of fifty Barbadian families to emigrate to Liberia to help African Americans build up a black nation that would be the envy of the world. In exploring the notion of Liberia as a “more auspicious shore” Banton highlights shifting meanings and experiences of freedom, citizenship, and nationhood and the changing salience of race in the making of a transatlantic black identity.
Listen to Dr. Banton talk about her project and her fellowship
Nicole M. Wright received her PhD from Yale. She is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In her book project, Wright explores literary treatments of law, judgment, representation, and slavery in British and American fiction of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Her articles have appeared in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the Toronto Quarterly.
Dr. Wright talks about her project and her fellowship at the Lapidus Center
2015 Inaugural Long-term Fellow
The Lapidus Center’s inaugural long-term fellow was Natalie Joy. She received her PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University.
Her book project, Abolitionists and Indians in the Antebellum Era, considers the relationship between Native Americans and the American antislavery movement from the 1820s through the 1850s. It argues that Indians played a crucial role in shaping abolitionism during this period; they attended antislavery meetings; communicated with abolitionists; and sheltered fugitive slaves. In return, Indians received support from the antislavery movement as they fought against the loss of their land.
“I am honored and thankful to be the recipient of a long-term Lapidus Center fellowship,” said Joy. “It has given me the gift of time and space to work exclusively on my book. I am also pleased to have had access to the incredible resources of the Schomburg Center.”
Dr. Joy was in residence from January to June 2015. She describes her research and the benefits of her fellowship.