History Department
History Department

Liberal Arts awards four History Honors students with Burke-Smith scholarships

Tue, October 31, 2017
Liberal Arts awards four History Honors students with Burke-Smith scholarships
Awardees, clockwise from top left: Shelby Bremigan, Dan Luiton, Hunter Newell, and Alexis Partyka.

The College of Liberal Arts has awarded the Marion Burke-Smith Scholarship to four History Honors in support of their research. Award winners Shelby Bremigan, Dan Luiton, Hunter Newell, and Alexis Partyka will receive stipends if $1,500 each. Their fields of specialization are geographically and thematically rich and diverse––including investigations into the successes and failures of the civilian Atomic Energy Commission, United States and Cambodian relations in the late 1970s, American Zionism and public health in Palestine after World War I, and a gendered history of Algeria’s struggle for independence from France in the 1950s and 1960s.

BremiganMs. Shelby Bremigan is writing her senior honors thesis on the “scientists’ movement” of the 1940s, specifically on the efforts started by scientists in Chicago who had worked on the atomic bomb project during World War II to steer American nuclear policy toward civilian control and international cooperation. The Federation of Atomic Scientists, which soon became the Federation of American Scientists (as it remains today), took the lead in organizing educational and lobbying efforts that succeeded in derailing a bill that would have put atomic matters firmly in the hands of the military and instead helped secure passage of a bill that established the civilian Atomic Energy Commission. The scientists’ efforts to win international control of nuclear weapons failed badly, however, and Shelby’s research in archives in Chicago and elsewhere aims to shed light on why the scientists’ movement succeeded domestically but failed internationally.

"There was quite a bit written on this in the 1960s, but not nearly as much more recently, and I think it’s a good time for someone like Shelby to take a fresh look at the archives and reexamine the workings of the scientists’ movement, writes Associate Professor of History Bruce J. Hunt. “At a time when concern about nuclear weapons is again on the rise, Ms. Bremigan has set out to examine American scientists’ efforts right after World War II to shape national and international nuclear policy. The “scientists’ movement” scored some successes domestically, but failed badly in its attempt to secure international control of nuclear weapons. Shelby’s project promises to shed light on one of the most vital issues of our time: how best to handle the weapons that continue to threaten us all.”

LuitonIn his thesis project, Mr. Dan Luiton studies how American Zionists laid the foundation for a public health system in Mandate Palestine. After World War I, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, created and managed a hospital, a nursing school, and child welfare centers that served and educated local women.

"Dan’s sources illuminate how American practitioners, doctors, nurses, and social workers, understood their role in shaping a new Jewish society," said Tatjana Lichtenstein, Associate Professor of History.

Hunter NewellMr. Hunter Newell’s project explains the passivity with which the United States responded to the Cambodian genocide in the late 1970s. 

Mr. Newell connects the lack of U.S. response mostly to American disillusionment with political leaders and widespread skepticism in the aftermath of the Vietnam War about appeals to take renewed interest in Southeast Asia.

“Hunter has conducted deep and ambitious research into an important question about U.S. policymaking in the aftermath of the Vietnam War,” writes Mark Atwood Lawrence, Associate Professor of History.

“He shows persuasively why the United States retreated from the international stage after 1975 and declined to respond to one of the great human catastrophes of the twentieth century.”

PartykaMs. Alexis Partyka’s thesis examines how women played key roles in Algeria’s struggle for independence from France (1954-62), with women like Djamila Bouhired becoming international heroes celebrated around the world in film and song. Afterwards, however, women's political role in Algeria faded, for reasons that are not fully understood by historians. Her research seeks to explain how this occurred. “Lexi Partyka’s History Honors thesis will build upon previous work on gender and violence in the Algerian war that was done at UT and while she was a student at Science Po in Paris,” noted her advisor, Benjamin Claude Brower, Associate Professor of History.

Bremigan, Luiton, Newell, and Partyka join those recently awarded the Rapoport-King Thesis Scholarship for a total of six History Honors students among the Liberal Arts research scholarship winners this fall. History Honors program Director Denise Spellberg, Professor of History, has seen the number of History Honors students increase in recent years, nearly doubling since 2015. "I am happy and proud of these six scholarship winners, all senior members of our History Honors Program. Their success is a testament to their dedication to the articulation of engaging research projects, guided by their trusty faculty thesis advisors, all renown historians in our department."

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