Institute of Historical Studies
Institute of Historical Studies

Marking its Eighth Year, New Work in Progress Series for Advanced Graduate Students Kicks-off this Month

Sun, November 17, 2019
Marking its Eighth Year, New Work in Progress Series for Advanced Graduate Students Kicks-off this Month

The Institute for Historical Studies' New Work in Progress Series (Fall 2019- Spring 2020) highlights new research by advanced graduate students here at UT Austin. The workshops focus on one pre-circulated paper, with feedback from a commentator and audience attendees. We encourage you to participate in such an intellectually rich environment and engage in robust discussions on a range of topics.
The series begins with Abikal Borah’s presentation titled, "The Practice of Resistance: Durable Dispositions and the Violent Play in Colonial Natal, 1895-1914." His paper looks at the practice of resistance among the indigenous Africans and the migrant Indians in colonial Natal during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Borah demonstrates that the politics of misrecognition between the Africans and Indians in colonial Natal was not only a state-sponsored project but also a product of racial imaginary of the indigene and the migrant.
Next, we have Justin Heath’s "Painting Christians on Paper Soldiers: Jesuit Arms-Dealing and Moral Entrepreneurship in the Controversial Origins of the Guarani Militias of Paraguay, 1618-1735." He will workshop his dissertation chapter on the Jesuit missionaries of Paraguay, where he explores the hitherto unexamined connections between the Jesuit missions and the colegio network of municipal secondary schools that not only served as educational centers for the next generation of the literate elite Spanish-speakers of the frontier, but as useful logistical nodes that aided and comingled Jesuit and lay interests beyond the confines of the local community. 
“My research project has demonstrated that the scope of an archive rarely parallels the institutional markers and jurisdictional boundaries that they often presuppose. Unexpected oddities and rare finds still inform what we do as historians (thank goodness!)” says Justin Heath. “…And we only know this because archives are imperfect efforts to organize sprawling and often loosely-connected data into a coherent collection— after the fact! To cite an example: I found the most curious evidence for my IHS paper in the least expected places (namely, in appended “memorials” to primary documents that were not originally mentioned in the catalogue).”
The series continues next semester with Jacob Doss’s paper, "Gendering the Novitiate: Imagining the Novice in a Time of Reform," as he examines the various ways monastic practice and discourse gendered the novitiate after monastic reform groups stopped accepting child recruits in the early twelfth century. Drawing on a variety of sources from hagiography, to treatises on monastic formation, parables, and sermons, his paper will address the evolving place of novices in the formation of monastic hierarchy, the values meant to be instilled in a novice, and the ways monks gendered the language of vice and virtue.

Shifting the series’ geographical location to the U.S., Signe Fourmy will discuss her chapter titled, "'Guilty of the offence wherewith she stands charged': Prosecuting Enslaved Women for Infanticide in the Antebellum South." By examining cases of enslaved women prosecuted for infanticide, Fourmy interrogates the connections between enslaved motherhood, trauma, and criminality in the historical narrative to see what they reveal about resistance and the interiority of enslaved women’s lives. She argues that although infanticide occurred across racial, social, and economic boundaries, when committed by enslaved women, these acts of maternal resistance bear particular meaning as a rejection of attempts to control their reproduction and a reflection of the trauma of enslavement.
In preparing for her presentation, Signe Fourmy notes, “I look forward to the opportunity to present my work and discuss the challenges of working around and through the archive where even though enslaved women are present as criminal defendants, their voices are largely absent.

Juan Carlos De Orellana Sánchez’s workshop "The Indians and the Making of the Indies" focuses on the Indians’ role in the construction of the Indies as a legal and political space of the Spanish Monarchy during the seventeenth century. He argues that indigenous peoples engaged in practices that allowed them to understand the workings and problems of the monarchy and propose solutions. In doing this, they also became agents in the definition of their own legal and political status as vassals. 
The series concludes on April 29, 2020 with Jing Zhai’s presentation, "Cultivating Socialist Motherhood and Childhood: Daycares and Preschools in Rural Communes of China, 1953-1983." She considers the history of childcare in each commune to be a crucial element serving the goal of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to intertwine personal lives with a public agenda, in hopes of cultivating a socialist lifestyle during the commune years. The history of childminding in rural China reflected a continuous negotiation between the CCP and peasants on how to balance production and reproduction, create socialist motherhood and childhood, and adjust family relations and social responsibilities. 

Come join us for coffee and snacks, share your insights, and help our presenters refine their research projects! Unless otherwise noted, workshops take place in GAR 4.100. Free and open to the public. Please RSVP to: For more information about the New Work in Progress series, contact Graduate Research Assistant and NWP Program Coordinator Tiana Wilson, Doctoral Student in History, UT Austin.
View a full line of the Fall and Spring programs at the Institute for Historical Studies on the calendar page and follow IHS on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the “New Work In Progress” series and other events.

Story by Tiana Wilson, Graduate Research Assistant, Institute for Historical Studies, and Doctoral Student in History, University of Texas at Austin.

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