April 14, 2021

Moon Gives Talk on “Exploring Systemic Racism in Alexandria: Housing”

Professor of History and Director of American Studies Krystyn Moon

Professor of History and Director of American Studies Krystyn Moon

Professor of History and Director of American Studies Krystyn Moon recently gave a talk on “Exploring Systemic Racism in Alexandria: Housing” on March 18 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. Moon discussed “how the confluence of a Jim Crow past, plus development and market pressures, constrained the options of Blacks seeking to live in the city,” according to an article in the Alexandria Patch. Read more.

Ottoman Religious History Volume Publishes Al-Tikriti Chapter

In the fall of 2020, a volume edited by Tijana Krstić and Derin Terzioğlu entitled Historicizing Sunni Islam in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1450 – c. 1750, included a chapter by UMW Middle East History Associate Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti. The chapter, entitled “A Contrarian Voice: Şehzāde Ḳorḳud’s (d. 919/1513) Writings on Kalām and the Early Articulation of Ottoman Sunnism,” provides an examination of the role Prince Korkud’s writings played in the early modern evolution of Ottoman religious identity.

The chapter abstract: “What characterizes Ottoman Sunnism, and how did it come to be? The conventional view is that by roughly the middle of the sixteenth century the imperial elite came to adopt and promote a particular religious identity, which can be characterized by several overlapping, interrelated, and historically defined denominational (madhhab) affiliations, as well as a particular relationship with the political hierarchy. The favored denominations included Hanafi legal affiliation and Maturidi kalām orientation, accompanied by elite support for particular aspects of mystical thought and practice, a cooperative relationship between favored Sufi orders and the state, and advanced integration of the ulama into a state-supported madrasa system.”

“One figure whose writings reflect this coming together of Ottoman Sunnism at a nascent stage is Şehzāde Ḳorḳud (d. 919/1513), who argued a series of positions on matters of religious belief, doctrinal certainty, favored groups, and the relationship between the state and ulama. Largely because he failed to win power in the 917–919 / 1511–1513 dynastic succession struggle, the prince’s arguments left a limited mark, and several of his positions reflected a minority viewpoint. However, at the same time, his positions highlight several relevant intellectual influences at that time and place, point to factors contributing to the form Ottoman Sunnism came to take, and demonstrate the range of debate inherent in elite circles at the time.

World Lessons Inspire Sophomore to Pen Children’s Book

Home during quarantine, University of Mary Washington sophomore Helen Dhue found herself rifling through childhood belongings. Among old papers and artwork, she discovered a book she wrote as a kindergartner. As she turned the pages, inspiration struck. Influenced by classes she’d taken at Mary Washington as part of her history major, Dhue put pen to […]

World Lessons Inspire Sophomore to Pen Children’s Book

Sophomore Helen Dhue is about to publish a children’s book based on a story that she wrote as a child. Inspired by courses on immigration history and racism that she’s taken at UMW, Dhue hopes her book will help parents and educators have conversations with children about discrimination and inclusion.

Sophomore Helen Dhue is about to publish a children’s book based on a story that she wrote as a child. Inspired by courses on immigration history and racism that she’s taken at UMW, Dhue hopes her book will help parents and educators have conversations with children about discrimination and inclusion.

Home during quarantine, University of Mary Washington sophomore Helen Dhue found herself rifling through childhood belongings. Among old papers and artwork, she discovered a book she wrote as a kindergartner.

As she turned the pages, inspiration struck. Influenced by classes she’d taken at Mary Washington as part of her history major, Dhue put pen to paper. She’ll soon release her self-published children’s book, The Cats Who Like Bats, based on the story she dictated to her mother all those years ago. Dhue, who is also enrolled in UMW’s education program and aspires to teach high school history, hopes the tale will help parents and educators broach with young children complex topics like racism, discrimination, diversity and inclusion. Read more.

 “I appreciated that classes I’ve taken at UMW have allowed us to have open discussions so we could better understand one another and be more sensitive to other people’s experiences,” said Dhue, who was influenced by history courses she took focusing on immigration and Latin America. Illustration by Julia Lopresti.


“I appreciated that classes I’ve taken at UMW have allowed us to have open discussions so we could better understand one another and be more sensitive to other people’s experiences,” said Dhue, who was influenced by history courses she took focusing on immigration and Latin America. Illustration by Julia Lopresti.

Harris Pens Editorial on Stalin and Tupolev for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Andrei Tupolev and Joseph Stalin

Andrei Tupolev and Joseph Stalin

Associate Professor of European and Modern Russian History Steven E. Harris penned an editorial on Communist dictator Joseph Stalin and and Soviet aircraft engineer Andrei Tupolev in advance of his Great Lives lecture on Thursday Jan. 28, at 7:30 pm on Zoom, as part of UMW’s “Great Lives” series. It can be accessed at umw.edu/greatlives.

THE UNITED States had William Boeing. Germany, Hugo Junkers. And Great Britain, Geoffrey de Havilland. From travel to warfare, the airplanes these designers produced transformed the world and made them household names.

In the Soviet Union, the most famous aviation designer was Andrei Nikolaevich Tupolev (1888-1972), whose aircraft also made him a household name. From gliders to strategic bombers and a supersonic passenger plane, Tupolev and his design bureau helped make the Soviet Union an aviation superpower.

His incredible career spanned Russia’s tumultuous 20th century, from the reign of its last tsar, Nicholas II, and Stalin’s regime to the twilight of the Soviet experiment under Leonid Brezhnev. Read more.

Al-Tikriti Monitors Kazakhstan Parliamentary Elections

Prof. Al-Tikriti and Mr. Emil Shakir Uluu

Prof. Al-Tikriti and Mr. Emil Shakir Uluu

From 11 December 2020 to 16 January 2021, Middle East History Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti served as a Long Term Observer (LTO) for the Organization of Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Shymkent, Kazakhstan.

In the course of this five week deployment, Prof. Al-Tikriti interviewed local leaders of all five recognized Kazakh parties; met with civil society activists; discussed election administration with government officials at the rayon (district), oblast (province), and city levels; and administered fuel and financial logistics for his five person team. In addition, he was able to visit the Otyrar ruins (the first city destroyed by Çingiz Khan’s Mongol army in their westward drive), the Ahmed Yesevi shrine,and the Ahmet Yesevi Turkish-Kazakh International University (TÜRTEP) in Turkistan city.

Together with his senior LTO partner, Mr. Emil Shakir Uluu of Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan, Prof. Al-Tikriti completed several weekly reports, election observation forms, spot rally reports, and other observation requirements mandated by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Mr. Shakir Uluu and Prof. Al-Tikriti’s work contributed to ODIHR’s interim report, and final report, which will be released in a few weeks.

Prof. Al-Tikriti thanks the colleagues who served with him in Shymkent, as well as all the wonderful Kazakh officials, activists, and election colleagues whom he was fortunate enough to meet in the course of this election observation.

Al-Tikriti Speaks on Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire

Middle East History Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti recently spoke at a virtual conference hosted by Western Caspian University of Baku, Azerbaijan.

Middle East History Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti recently spoke at a virtual conference hosted by Western Caspian University of Baku, Azerbaijan.

On 18 December 2020, Middle East History Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti spoke at a conference entitled “XII-XV əsrlər Ön Asiya və Qafqaz bölgəsinin tarixi-etnoqrafik məsələlərinə baxış / Perspectives on Historical and Ethnographic Issues Concerning 12th-15th Century Western Asia and the Caucasus Region.” The international conference, offering presentations in Azerbaijani Turkish and English, was hosted by Western Caspian University of Baku, Azerbaijan, and took place entirely online.

The title of Al-Tikriti’s presentation was “Observations on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict’s 10 November Resolution.” Addressing a mostly Azerbaijani audience, in the course of this talk, Prof. Al-Tikriti offered the following points about the recent conflict’s current ceasefire and steps for longer term resolution:

1) He has never seen as bitter a conflict as this one, and he has witnessed several well-known conflicts.

2) The mass hatred all around must be brought to an end, sooner rather than later.

3) The huge difference between what is said for international consumption and what is said for domestic consumption needs to be reduced.

4) Both sides are living in parallel realities, and the discrepancy between those parallel worlds must be reduced.

5) The weaponization of historical memory must be put to an end, and both sides must stop pretending like the other side doesn’t exist.

6) Azerbaijan should now act generously, because if they repeat Armenia’s earlier mistake of being content with triumphantly maintaining a frozen conflict, it will come back to haunt them some day, due to shifting factors domestically and internationally.

7) Both sides may have now opened themselves up to increased Russian-Turkish neo-imperialism — if they desire genuine independence, they must negotiate directly with each other.

8) War crimes are unacceptable, and must be prosecuted — otherwise, no good will is foreseen.

9) The 2006 Julfa destruction was unacceptable, and should be both punished and restored to the extent possible.

10) As a sign of good will, Azerbaijan should open up rail lines, transport links, etc.

11) Azerbaijan should negotiate granting Nagorno-Karabakh autonomy.

12) Both sides should secure external peacekeepers (i.e. not Russian or Turkish) to guarantee both the Lachin and Zangezur corridors.

Prof. Al-Tikriti’s thanks the organizers for this opportunity to present his reflections on the recent conflict, and hopes that a just peace will soon prove viable in the South Caucasus.

Moon Discusses Alexandria Neighborhood in The Washington Post

Professor of History and Director of American Studies Krystyn Moon

Professor of History and Director of American Studies Krystyn Moon

Professor of History and Director of American Studies Krystyn Moon offered comments to The Washington Post on Lenox Place, a quiet townhome community in Alexandria’s Arlandia neighborhood, close to where Amazon’s second headquarters is being built in Crystal City. Past president of the Alexandria Historical Society, Moon has written papers on Alexandria history and participated in an event entitled, “From Arlandria to Chirilagua: The Remaking of a Northern Virginia Neighborhood, 1960s- 1980s,” as part of Episcopal High School’s community engagement program.

But not all Arlandrians are as receptive to their new neighbors. Known as “Chirilagua” after a town in El Salvador, Arlandria is a diverse community with a sizable Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Honduran and Mexican population. “It is like the world in microcosm,” said Krystyn Moon, professor of history and American studies at University of Mary Washington. Read more.

Poska Earns Grant from the Social Science Research Council

Professor of History Allyson Poska

Professor of History Allyson Poska

Professor of History Allyson Poska earned a COVID-19 Rapid-Response Grant from the Social Science Research Council, in partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation and with the support of the Wenner-Gren, Ford, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundations. These highly competitive grants went to 62 recipients – out of 1,300 internationally who applied – for projects from across the social sciences and related fields that address the social, economic, cultural, psychological, and political impact of COVID-19 in the United States and globally, as well as responses to the pandemic’s wide-ranging effects. Dr. Poska’s paper was entitled, “Convincing the Masses: Global Public Health and Smallpox Vaccination in the Spanish Empire (1803-1810).” The grant money will mainly be used by Dr. Poska to acquire archival material in Peru, where she had planned to conduct research if the pandemic had not hit.

The abstract reads:

In 1803 Charles IV of Spain initiated a campaign against smallpox, opening vaccination rooms across the peninsula and sending the cowpox vaccine around the globe with the Royal Philanthropic Expedition. This global examination of Spain’s smallpox vaccination campaign analyzes the dynamic between the purveyors of the vaccine and the potential recipients. On both the peninsula and around the globe, the vaccination campaign engaged the diverse populations of the Spanish empire: men and women, rich and poor, Africans (both free and enslaved), Indigenous Americans, Filipinos, mixed-race peoples, and whites (both Spanish and American born). The campaign challenged deeply rooted race and gender hierarchies and asserted new claims to governmental authority. I intend to examine how each of these groups asserted their own expectations about bodily authority and governmental control as they accepted or rejected the vaccine. I have already conducted archival research in Spain and Mexico, but my plans to conduct research in Peru this summer were halted by Covid-19.  This project relates directly to the current Covid-19 as public health authorities grapple with the challenge of encouraging hundreds of millions of people of all races, classes, and cultures to submit to a novel vaccine for a novel virus. This research will result in a series of peer-reviewed articles and a book manuscript.

Harris Publishes Article on the Soviet Jet Age

Photomontage celebrating the Jet Age in the Soviet magazine, Grazhdanskaia aviatsiia, no. 12 (1963).

Associate Professor Steven E. Harris (HISA) recently published the following peer-reviewed article: “Dawn of the Soviet Jet Age: Aeroflot Passengers and Aviation Culture under Khrushchev,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 21, 3 (Summer 2020): 591-626.

In this article, Harris examines how representations of the ideal Soviet passenger became a central feature of aviation culture under Khrushchev and bolstered the state’s broader goals of advancing mass consumption, embracing the scientific-technical revolution, and fighting the Cold War. The research and writing for this article and the broader book project on which it is based were generously funded by an A. Verville Fellowship at the National Air & Space Museum and multiple grants from the University of Mary Washington, including a Waple Professorship. Many of the themes in Harris’s article are also featured in the exhibition, “Cold War Friendly Skies,” which is on display at the entrance to Simpson Library.