History Department
History Department

History doctoral students Maria Esther Hammack and Emily Whalen awarded P.E.O. Scholar Grants, 2019-20

Fri, November 1, 2019
History doctoral students Maria Esther Hammack and Emily Whalen awarded P.E.O. Scholar Grants, 2019-20
Maria Esther Hammack and Emily Whalen, Ph.D. Candidates in the Department of History, UT Austin

Two History doctoral students have been awarded the P.E.O. Scholar Award for the 2019-2020 academic year. Out of 945 women nominated, Maria Esther Hammack and Emily Whalen are two of 150 award winners.

The P.E.O. Scholar Awards (PSA) were established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women of the United States and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree at an accredited college or university. Scholar Awards recipients are a select group of women chosen for their high level of academic achievement and their potential for having a positive impact on society. The P.E.O. Sisterhood, founded January 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, is a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women. There are approximately 6,000 local chapters in the United States and Canada with nearly a quarter of a million active members.

Maria Esther Hammack is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. She specializes in U.S. slavery focusing on the African Diaspora in Mexico and the ways Texas became central to Black diasporic movements across the global South. Her dissertation under the direction of Professor Daina Ramey Berry, “South of Slavery: Enslaved and Free Black Movement in a Global Frontier, Mexico, The United States, and Beyond, 1793-1868,” traces the journeys of escapees and migrants who crossed the Mexico-US borderlands because they saw Mexico as a safe haven. Trained as a social historian, Maria emphasizes the experiences of runaway slaves, enslaved women/indentured servants, Black Seminole refugees, smuggled slaves, and free blacks who took solace in leaving the United States to live in a “free” Mexico. This work also explores Mexico’s anti-slavery and abolitionist efforts through an in-depth examination of Mexican congressional, governmental, and diplomatic records from its early period of Independence to the official abolition of slavery in 1829. Maria is a transnational scholar who seeks to advance initiatives that link scholarly research, pedagogy, digital and public history. In 2018-2019, she was a Fellow at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Read about her work at https://mariaestherhammack.me/ and fourthpartoftheworld.wordpress.com, check out her articles on Not Even Past, and follow her on Twitter at @LorienTinuviel.

Emily Whalen is a historian of U.S. foreign policy and of the Middle East. She is a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is a Graduate Fellow at the Clements Center for National Security. Previously, Emily has been a Smith Richardson Foundation Predoctoral Fellow at Yale’s International Security Studies Program and an affiliated scholar at the American University of Beirut's Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies. In 2019-2020, she will be an Ernest May Predoctoral Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The PEO Sisterhood and the American Association of University Women have also supported Emily’s work. Emily works as a historical consultant for the EastWest Institute, an international, non-governmental think-tank specializing in Track-II diplomacy. She was previously a coder for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Database, covering political violence in Pakistan. Emily's writing appears in several online publications, including Not Even Past, Foreign Policy, Task and Purpose, and Lawfare. A distinguished graduate of the University of Virginia (BA, 2010), Emily speaks French, Italian, and Levantine Arabic. Read more about her research, scholarship, publications and media at emilyingridwhalen.com, and follow her work on Twitter @eiwhalen.

Congratulations to Maria and Emily!

Thanks to Gwendolyn Lockman, Ph.D. Student, University of Texas at Austin, for contributions to this article.

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