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August
17
2018

Interview with Mark Doyle, Co-Winner of the 2017 Stansky Book Prize

Posted by rdaily under Interview | Tags: prize, stansky | 0 Comments

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Mark Doyle is an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History at Middle Tennessee State University. His book, Communal Violence in the British Empire: Disturbing the Pax (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), was co-awarded the 2017 Stansky Prize.

 

How did you become interested in this topic? 

When I wrapped up my previous book on sectarian violence in 19th-century Belfast, I was interested in seeing just how far my ideas were transferrable to other divided societies. I was also reading a lot of new work on the connections between Ireland and India under British rule, so it made sense to expand my focus to the empire at large. I was surprised by the lack of comparative work on communal/sectarian violence around the British Empire, considering the obvious similarities between, say, Hindu-Muslim violence in India and Protestant-Catholic violence in Ireland. This is something that comes up quite frequently in conversations about the British Empire and, to a certain extent, in popular understandings of British imperialism, but it was not something that had undergone systematic academic analysis.

Which archives and/or collections did you find most helpful?

Each of the archives I visited in Ireland, the UK, and India were helpful in different ways, but one collection that was particularly useful was the British Newspaper Archive maintained by the British Library. For a small subscription fee you get access to an enormous variety of British and Irish newspapers that are keyword searchable; this enabled me to look for specific words or phrases (e.g., “fanatical”) that appeared in British reports of violent episodes and to engage in some fairly detailed analysis of the discourses that people were tapping into to describe what was happening. A decade ago this sort of analysis would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, but now it’s much easier to identify patterns of language and habits of thought across time and place, which I think is quite exciting.

Did you make any particularly important archival findings? Was there a moment when you felt like you had achieved a breakthrough in your research?

There were no huge breakthroughs, but one thing that kept surprising me was when a person that I had been researching in one sphere of imperial activity popped up in an entirely different sphere. For instance, Philip Wodehouse was governor of British Guiana in 1856 during the anti-Portuguese riots there, and then in 1874 he was governor of Bombay Presidency during anti-Parsi riots in Bombay city. And the preacher responsible for sparking the riots in Guiana, John Sayers Orr, was somebody that I had encountered during my dissertation research engaging in much the same kind of behavior in Greenock, Scotland, several years earlier. These kinds of unexpected convergences demonstrate just how much of a circulatory system the empire was, and just how much events in one part of the world could influence the course of events in others. 

Does your project engage other disciplines? If so, which ones, and how?

I think most good historical work uses insights from other disciplines, whether we explicitly acknowledge it or not. I drew on postcolonial theory to understand the discursive strategies by which British observers made sense of communal violence, social-science research on mass violence (e.g., the work of Charles Tilly) to help me define my terms with precision and to know which questions I could be asking, and theoretical work on liberalism and the state to provide an interpretive framework for my data. One of the great things about being a historian is that it allows you to be methodologically promiscuous in this way.

Do you have any advice for graduate students and early career professionals as they begin research projects or embark upon the writing process?

Each project originates in its own way, but once it has begun the key thing is to find ways to build and maintain momentum. It’s relatively easy to pile up undigested data and develop long lists of books and articles to read; it’s much harder to force yourself to transform your ideas and materials into a written product. I was working on this book for about seven years, and for most of that time I left it on the backburner while I dealt with other professional and personal things of more immediate importance. At a certain point I decided that if I didn’t find a way to prioritize this project then it was never going to get done, and so I made a New Year’s resolution to write every single day for a year (including weekends, holidays, etc.). Some days I would do little more than revise a paragraph or fiddle with a footnote, but other days I would be able to devote several hours to untangling a particularly knotty passage or idea. Much of what I wrote on one day might be totally cast aside the next, but that was okay. The point was to have it in front of me for at least a few minutes every day, so that it was no longer this big, insurmountable object that I could always talk myself out of tackling. I just made it part of my everyday existence, like eating breakfast or brushing my teeth. And it worked: I didn’t finish the whole book by the end of that year, but it didn’t take much longer to see it through to the end. This is not something that would work for everybody – I know people who set aside specific hours of each weekday, or specific days of the week, for similar purposes – but the key is to find ways to keep pushing forward, regardless of how you feel on a particular day or if your environmental conditions are just right. Find a rhythm and stick to it, come what may.

What did you find to be the most challenging part of the project?

I have a fairly heavy teaching load and no regular sabbaticals, so finding the time and energy to work on this project was a challenge, particularly given its globe-spanning nature. Thanks to some external and internal funding, I was able to travel to the most important archives and to present at some international conferences, and of course I benefitted enormously from the various digitization projects and other online resources that have been developed in recent years. Scarcity of resources is still a challenge for someone in my position, but it’s not nearly the obstacle that it once was.

What was your most surprising revelation or important conclusion?

I think my most important conclusion – which is in line with other recent work on the topic – concerns the limits of British power in its colonies. What emerges from my research is a picture of an imperial state that was not nearly as competent or confident as it pretended to be. British officials were often working at cross purposes with one another, acting with insufficient information, hesitant when they should have been forceful, forceful when they should have been sensitive, and unclear about the long-term (or even short-term) consequences of their actions. The closer you look at the day-to-day operations of the British Empire, the more you understand the improvisational and error-prone nature of the entire enterprise. I think this is something certain colonized people picked up on, and this enabled them to mount effective challenges to British hegemony in the 20thcentury.

Does your project have any particular relevance to the contemporary—political, social, cultural, etc.?

Many of the places I’ve studied continue to experience ethnic/religious conflict. I think my work can not only help us understand the origins of those conflicts, but, perhaps more importantly, it throws some light on the role that the state can play in fostering, interpreting, suppressing, or exploiting those conflicts. Despite what its representatives might say, the state is rarely a neutral arbiter in these disputes, and its role needs to be very carefully scrutinized in order to bring about any kind of lasting resolution.

How do you hope your work contributes to the historiography?

I hope scholars take my arguments about the relationship between violence and the imperial state and apply them to other parts of the British Empire. There is only so much one can cover in a single monograph, so I would love to see a similar kind of analysis done for parts of the world that I haven’t explored (East Africa, the Dominions, the Middle East, etc.). While local studies are obviously important, and historians should always be attuned to the particular and the idiosyncratic, I think we could do more to understand some of the common denominators that held the British Empire together and make it a distinct unit of analysis. If this book has any originality, it is to take some things that we already know about individual cases (Ireland, India, Ceylon, the West Indies) and stitch together a larger set of arguments about what made the British Empire tick. It’s at this macro scale that I think its contribution can be greatest. 

What are you working on next? Will you be pursuing related research questions or turning to something completely different?

I’m all over the place at the moment. I’ve just finished editing a two-volume historical encyclopedia of the British Empire for ABC-CLIO, which should be out next month. I’m starting work on an article about the Fisk Jubilee Singers (an African-American choral group from Nashville) and their tours of Ireland in the 1870s – this is part of a larger interest I’ve developed in the history of Africans and Asians in Ireland prior to the 20thcentury. For the last few years I’ve also been gathering material for another empire-wide project on outbreaks of state violence during and after World War One. But the most pressing project (manuscript due in August) is a book I’m writing about the English rock band the Kinks, which has nothing really to do with the British Empire and for that reason has been a most welcome diversion. It’s about the relationship between the band and their north London neighborhood, the postwar changes undergone by the British working classes (suburbanization, slum clearance, etc.), and the way those changes found expression in the Kinks’ music. It’s wonderful to be able to pop a CD into my car on the way to work and tell myself I’m doing research.

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February
25
2017

Prize Pages Updated for 2017 Competitions

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Committee members, deadlines and requirements for NACBS 2017 prize competitions are now current.

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The North American British Music Studies Association (NABMSA) announces the creation of the biennial Diana McVeagh Prize for Best Book on British Music. The prize is named in honor of pioneering British music writer, Diana McVeagh, who is the author of books on and musical editions of British composers Edward Elgar and Gerald Finzi, among others. Her books are known for their insightful interpretations of music and its context, and the lyrical quality of her prose.

The first Diana McVeagh Prize will be awarded in November of 2013. Any book on British music – including monographs, books within a series, eBooks, or collections of essays (if all of the essays within are centered on the study of British music) are eligible for consideration for the Prize. To be considered for the Diana McVeagh Prize, Candidates must be members of NABMSA in good standing for the prize year (2013), and must submit a copy of the book to be considered postmarked by no later than July 1, 2013, to the Secretary of NABMSA at the following address:

Prof. Nathaniel G. Lew, Secretary
North American British Music Studies Association
c/o Department of Fine Arts
Saint Michael's College
One Winooski Park, Box 377
Colchester VT 05439

The winner of the Prize will be announced at the 2013 Business Meeting of NABMSA to be held in Pittsburgh, PA in November of 2013.

More information on the Diana McVeagh Prize for Best Book on British Music and information on joining NABMSA may be found at the Association’s website,www.nabmsa.org.


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North American Conference on British Studies Undergraduate Essay Contest 2012

Each year the NACBS awards twelve prizes of $100.00 each to the best essays on British topics submitted by undergraduates studying in American and Canadian universities.

Essays may be from any department –History, English, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, etc–as long as they relate to British Studies and date from 2011/2012.
Essays must have been written while the author was a degree-seeking undergraduate at a U.S. or Canadian college or university.

Essays should be no longer than 25 pages (please, no theses).

Submissions must be accompanied by a nominating letter from the professor who taught the course for which the essay was written. Nominating faculty must be current members of the NACBS. Please include the permanent mailing address and email contact information for the student.

Send a paper copy of the essay and the letter of nomination to EACH of the following 3 members of the adjudication committee by June 15th, 2012 (3 copies in total).

Dr Rich Connors
Department of History
University of Ottawa
155 Séraphin Marion Street
Ottawa, ON
Canada, K1N 6N5

Dr Guy Ortolano
101 Halcyon Hill Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
USA

Dr Lisa Surridge
Department of English
University of Victoria
Victoria, BC
Canada, V8W 3W1

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February
12
2012

WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE 2011 COMPETITION

Posted by jaskelly under Announcement, Grants and Awards, NACBS | Tags: 2012, article prize, prize, walter d. love | 0 Comments

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REMINDER: Deadline April 1, 2012

WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE 2011 COMPETITION

The WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE in History is a $150 award given annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best article or paper of similar length or scope by a North American scholar in the field of British history.  The 2012 prize will be awarded to an article published during the calendar year 2011.  The prize journal article or paper, which may be published anywhere in the world, should exhibit a humane and compassionate understanding of the subject, imagination, literary grace, and scrupulous scholarship.  It should also make a significant contribution to its field of study.  Chapters from longer works are not eligible, but papers appearing in edited collections of essays are eligible.

All scholars who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada and living in either country at the time of the award are eligible to compete.  A copy of the nominated article or paper should be sent by April 1, 2012 to each member of the Prize Committee.  For prompt attention, mark packages "NACBS Prize Committee."  Send submissions to:

Professor Sandra den Otter, Chair
Department of History
Queen's University
Kingston, ON
Canada
K7L 3N6
Email: [email protected]

Professor Ethan Shagan
Department of History
UC Berkeley
3229 Dwinelle Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-2550
Email: [email protected]

Professor Nicoletta Gullace
Department of History
University of New Hampshire
Horton Social Science Center
20 Academic Way
Durham, New Hampshire 03824
Email: [email protected]

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February
12
2012

JOHN BEN SNOW FOUNDATION PRIZE 2012 COMPETITION

Posted by jaskelly under Announcement, Grants and Awards, NACBS | Tags: 2012, john ben snow, prize | 0 Comments

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REMINDER: Deadline April 1, 2012

JOHN BEN SNOW FOUNDATION PRIZE 2012 COMPETITION

The JOHN BEN SNOW FOUNDATION PRIZE is a $500 prize awarded annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best book by a North American scholar in any field of British Studies dealing with the period from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century.  The author must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada and be living in either country at the time of the award.  Nominations may be made by the author or by the publisher of the book nominated.  A publisher may nominate more than one title each year but should use discretion and not overburden the Prize Committee.

The 2012 competition covers books published in 2011.  Separate copies of the letter of nomination and of the book nominated should be sent by April 1, 2012 to each member of the Prize Committee (only books sent to every committee member can be considered).  For prompt attention, mark packages “NACBS Prize Committee.”  Send all relevant materials to:

Professor Ken MacMillan, Chair
Department of History
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2N 1N4
Email: [email protected]

Professor Linda Mitchell
Department of History
203 Cockefair Hall
University of Missouri-Kansas City
5100 Rockhill Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
Email: [email protected]

Professor Krista Kesselring
Department of History
Dalhousie University
6135 University Ave.
PO Box 15000
Halifax, NS
Canada B3H 4R2
Email: [email protected]

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December
12
2011

NACBS Undergraduate Essay Prize 2012

Posted by jaskelly under Announcement, Grants and Awards | Tags: NACBS, prize, undergraduate, undergraduate essay | 0 Comments

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As you're collecting end-of-term papers, consider nominating the best of them for the annual NACBS Undergraduate Essay Prize. Papers must not exceed 8000 words (excluding notes and bibliography), be written by degree-seeking undergraduates at Canadian or American universities, and be nominated by a current member of the NACBS (only one nomination per member).  To nominate a paper, email it to Guy Ortolano ([email protected]) AND Richard Connors ([email protected]) by June 15, 2012.

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The North American Conference on British Studies Essay Contest Committee invites you to nominate one of your students for the Annual Essay Prize. This is intended for undergraduates enrolled at United States universities and colleges (there is a complementary contest for students enrolled in Canadian colleges and universities) and the Committee awards up to six prizes of $100 each. Please nominate your student according to the following guidelines:

1) The essay must have been written while the author was enrolled as a degree-seeking undergraduate. Essays written for courses and theses are acceptable.

2) Each essay must be nominated by a member of the NACBS and no individual member can nominate more than one essay per year.

3) Essays in any field of British Studies are invited, including, but not limited to, Literature, Art, Art History, History and Cultural Studies.

4) Essays should be between 10 and 25 pages of text, excluding notes.

5) Please submit a letter of nomination, including the full name, permanent address and email contact information for the student, along with one electronic or hard copy of the essay no later than June 1, 2010, to: Prof. Peter Hoffenberg, Department of History, 2530 Dole Street, Sakamaki Hall, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822-2283. Email: [email protected]

Please feel free to contact Peter if you have any questions and thanks for considering your students and for forwarding this information if appropriate.
Peter H. Hoffenberg
Associate Professor of History
University of Hawaii, Manoa
2530 Dole Street
Sakamaki Hall A203
Honolulu, HI 96822-2283
USA

Phone: 808 956-8497
Fax: 808 956-9600 to the attention of Hoffenberg

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The North American Conference on British Studies essay contest in British Studies for undergraduates enrolled at United States universities and colleges awards six prizes of $100 each, according to the following guidelines:

1.    The essay must have been written while the author was a degree-seeking undergraduate at a U.S. college or university. Essays written for courses, or as theses are acceptable.

2.    Each essay must be nominated by a member of the NACBS. No individual may nominate more than one essay in any one year.

3.    Essays in any field of British Studies are welcome.

4.    Essays should be between 10 and 25 pages, excluding citations and references.

5.    Please submit a letter of nomination (including the permanent mailing address and email contact information for the student) along with an electronic or three hard copies of the essay by June 1, 2010 to Professor Peter Hoffenberg, Department of History, University of Hawaii, 2530 Dole Street, Sakamaki Hall A203, Honolulu, HI 96822-2283. Email: [email protected].

6.    For further information please feel free to contact Prof. Hoffenberg at the above address.

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The JOHN BEN SNOW FOUNDATION PRIZE is a $500 prize awarded annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best book by a North American scholar in any field of British Studies dealing with the period from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century.  The author must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada and be living in either country at the time of the award.  Nominations may be made by the author or by the publisher of the book nominated.  A publisher may nominate more than one title each year but should use discretion and not overburden the Prize Committee.

The 2010 competition covers books published in 2009.  Separate copies of the letter of nomination and of the book nominated should be sent by April 1, 2010 to each member of the Prize Committee (only books sent to every committee member can be considered).  For prompt attention, mark packages "NACBS Prize Committee."  Send all relevant materials to:

Professor Ken MacMillan
Department of History
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2N 1N4
email: [email protected]

Professor Linda Mitchell
Department of History
203 Cockefair Hall
University of Missouri-Kansas City
5100 Rockhill Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
email: [email protected]

Professor Sara Butler, Chair
Loyola University New Orleans
History Department
6363 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70118
email: [email protected]

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February
4
2010

WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE 2010 COMPETITION

Posted by jaskelly under Announcement, Grants and Awards | Tags: competition, love prize, NACBS, prize, walter d. love | 0 Comments

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The WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE in History is a $150 award given annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best article or paper of similar length or scope by a North American scholar in the field of British history.  The 2010 prize will be awarded to an article published during the calendar year 2009.  The prize journal article or paper, which may be published anywhere in the world, should exhibit a humane and compassionate understanding of the subject, imagination, literary grace, and scrupulous scholarship.  It should also make a significant contribution to its field of study.  Chapters from longer works are not eligible, but papers appearing in edited collections of essays are eligible.

All scholars who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada and living in either country at the time of the award are eligible to compete.  A copy of the nominated article or paper should be sent by April 1, 2010 to each member of the Prize Committee.  For prompt attention, mark packages "NACBS Prize Committee."  Send submissions to:

Professor Derek Hirst
History Department
Box 1062
Washington University
St Louis, Mo. 63130
Email: [email protected]

Professor Karen Robertson
Vassar College
English Department
Sanders Classroom building (SC)  Box 744
124 Raymond Ave.
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0744
Email: [email protected]

Professor Ina Zweiniger-Bargelowska
Department of History
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of History (M/C 198)
913 University Hall
601 South Morgan Street
Chicago, IL 60607-7109
Email: [email protected]

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