Latest News


History Professor Margaret O'Mara Talks Tech on "GeekWire" Radio Show

Faculty News - April 4, 2014

History Professor Margaret O'Mara recently shared her expertise on the technology industry's impact on politics, culture and place in an interview with Todd Bishop and John Cook of the tech radio show GeekWire. O'Mara, whose research focuses on Silicon Valley, talked about place-making in the context of Seattle's innovation economy. The Seattle technology community thrives due to the presence of three requisite conditions. Innovation, explains O'Mara, is made possible by: 1) The presence of resources such as available investment capital; 2) Institutions (like the University of Washington) that serve as "sandboxes" for would-be innovators to get together and play around with new ideas; and 3) Quality of place--all of the things that make Seattle a great place to live and build community.

In Seattle "we're totally connected, and also separate" explains O'Mara, a unique combination of characteristics of place that makes the city a great incubator for innovation. From a historical perspective, O'Mara points out, although somewhat geographically isolated in the Pacific Northwest, the Puget Sound has long been a crossroads where different people and cultures come together and connect. This is the key to Seattle's potential for innovation says O'Mara --- "that's where new ideas come from... it's not from people from the same background saying the same thing."

Hear the full interview with Professor O'Mara here (interview begins at 08:30).

Margaret O'Mara is an Associate Professor in the Department of History. Her book Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, 2005) explores the rise of Silicon Valley in the context of the Cold War.

Photo credit: Erynn Rose Photo

Read more about Margaret O'Mara

Two History Faculty Members Receive Distinguished Teaching Awards

Faculty News - March 25, 2014

The Department of History is extremely proud to announce that two History faculty members have been selected to receive Distinguished Teaching Awards for 2014. Congratulations to Moon-Ho Jung, the 2014 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award, and to Margaret O'Mara, the 2014 (and inaugural) recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology.

Distinguished Teaching Awardees are chosen based on a variety of criteria including mastery of the subject matter, ability to engage students both within and outside of the classroom, and innovations in course and curriculum design. The Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology, created in 2013 by the Office of the Provost, recognizes a current faculty member for improving student learning or engagement through an approach that leverages technology. Professors Jung and O'Mara will receive their awards at the UW Awards of Excellence Ceremony in June.

Read more about Moon-Ho Jung, Margaret O'Mara

Prof. Margaret O'Mara Awarded Burkhardt Residential Fellowship

Faculty News - March 23, 2014

History professor Margaret O’Mara has been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies to be a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellow next year. As a Burkhardt Fellow, Professor O'Mara will spend the 2014-2015 academic year in residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, where she will work on her project, “Silicon Age: High Technology and the Reinvention of the United States, 1970-2000" (abstract). O'Mara is an Associate Professor of History, specializing in American political history, urban history, and the history of capitalism and is the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of History. She is the author of Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).

Burkhardt Fellowships are "targeted interventions in the careers of exceptionally talented scholars." Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program supports scholars who are embarking on ambitious, large-scale research projects at critical stages in their academic careers. According to ACLS Program Officer Matthew Goldfeder, the year Burkhardt Fellows spend in residence at one of 13 national participating residential research centers allows them the opportunity to "engage in an extended exchange with other scholars from a variety of fields and backgrounds" and to "deepen and expand the significance of their research and its impact on the humanities and related social sciences.”

The Department of History congratulates Margaret O'Mara on this prestigious and well-deserved research opportunity!

Read more about Margaret O'Mara

Prof. Arbella Bet-Shlimon awarded best dissertation prize

Faculty News - March 10, 2014

Congratulations to UW History Department Assistant Professor Arbella Bet-Shlimon on receiving the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq's award for the best US dissertation in medieval or modern Iraqi studies for the biennium 2011-2013. The award was for her 2012 Harvard University dissertation, "Kirkuk, 1918-1968: Oil and the Politics of Identity in an Iraqi City." Professor Bet-Shlimon is currently teaching a undergraduate course on the modern middle east and will offer a graduate seminar on "Urban Histories of the Modern Middle East" in Spring 2014.

Read more about Arbella Bet-Shlimon

Prof. Laurie Sears Weighs in on Oscar-nominated Documentary "The Art of Killing"

Faculty News - March 10, 2014

Historian of Indonesia, Professor Laurie Sears recently participated in a Critical Asian Studies roundtable on debates surrounding the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing. The documentary follows Anwar Congo and other death squad leaders involved in the 1965 military overthrow of the Indonesian government. According to the official synopsis of the film:

They helped the army kill an estimated 1 million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands. Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers who happily boast about everything from corruption and election rigging to acts of genocide. The Act of Killing is about killers who have won, and the sort of society they have built. Unlike aging Nazis or Rwandan genocidaires, Anwar and his friends have not been forced by history to admit they participated in crimes against humanity. Instead, they have written their own triumphant history, becoming role models for millions of young paramilitaries. The Act of Killing is a journey into the memories and imaginations of the perpetrators, offering insight into the minds of mass killers.

In "Indonesia Roundtable: The Act of Killing" Professor Sears and other scholars take on different elements of the debates that have sprung up around this controversial film. Profesor Sears' article "HEROES AS KILLERS OR KILLERS AS HEROES?" as well as the other contributions listed below will be available online for free until the end of March 2014.

Read more about Laurie Sears

Professor James Gregory elected vice-president of the Labor and Working-Class History Association

Faculty News - February 18, 2014

Professor James Gregory has been elected vice-president of the Labor and Working Class History Association to be followed by a term as president. LAWCHA is an international association of historians and labor scholars with more than 900 members. It publishes the journal LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, the LAWCHA Newsletter, and Labor Online. Gregory is Professor of History at University of Washington and Harry Bridges Endowed Chair of Labor Studies (emeritus).

Read more about James Gregory

Patricia Ebrey honored by the American Historical Association with Award for Scholarly Distinction

Faculty News - January 30, 2014

The History Department congratulates professor Patricia Ebrey on her recent Award for Scholarly Distinction from the American Historical Association for her contributions as "the premier historian of Chinese women during the millennium-plus of the early and middle empire." The AHA explains, "due to Professor Ebrey's work, "various topics that were once 'unteachable' for lack of either sources or scholarship in English are now routinely covered. The past is a bigger and a less foreign country thanks to Pat Ebrey."

Professor Ebrey's latest book, Emperor Huizong (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014), about the Chinese emperor who lived from 1082 to 1135 and ruled for 26 years during China’s Song Dynasty, was recently selected as one of the "books of the year" by The Spectator writer Jonathan Mirsky. Mirsky praises the book as " a supreme example of meticulous scholarship and eloquence."

UW Today recently published an interview with Professor Ebrey in which she discusses the contents of book and her reasons for writing. In the interview she explains how the vehicle of biography can serve as an accessible entry point for readers who may be unfamiliar with a particular time and place. She explains "I did not write this book only for people who have already heard of Huizong. I think that viewing the world from one person’s perspective is an excellent way to get into an age and a place. To draw in readers relatively unfamiliar with Song China, I provide background on everything from political factionalism to poetry as an element of court culture." To read the full interview, click here.

Read more about Patricia Ebrey

Professor Vincente Rafael on rich history of Tacloban

Faculty News - November 15, 2013

Professor Vincente Rafael was featured in a story in The Wall Street Journal discussing the rich and complex history of the Phillipine city of Tacloban before Typhoon Haiyan.

Professor Vincente Rafael's Contracting Colonialism Honored with 25th Anniversary Celebration

Faculty News - November 12, 2013

On September 26, 2013, the Rizal Library of the Loyola Schools Ateneo de Manila University hosted a celebration, including an afternoon of lectures and reflections, to mark the 25th year in print of Professor Vicente Rafael’s Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society Under Early Spanish Rule. Originally published by Cornell University Press in 1988, Ateneo de Manila University Press has also published a Philippine edition of the book.

Jordanna Bailkin's The Afterlife of Empire Awarded Multiple Prizes

Faculty News - November 2, 2013

Professor Jordanna Bailkin has been selected as the winner of the 2013 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for her book The Afterlife of Empire (University of California Press, 2012). The Forkosch Prize is awarded annually by the American Historical Association (AHA) in recognition of the best book in English in the field of British, British imperial, or British Commonwealth history since 1485. In addition, Professor Bailkin recently won the Stansky Book Prize awarded annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best book published anywhere by a North American scholar on any aspect of British studies since 1800. Most recently, the book has been awarded the Biennial Book Prize for 2013-2014 from the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies.

The Afterlife of Empire investigates how decolonization transformed British society in the 1950s and 1960s. Although usually charted through its diplomatic details, the collapse of the British empire was also a deeply personal process that altered everyday life, restructuring routines, individual relationships, and social interactions. Learn more.

Read more about Jordanna Bailkin

Purnima Dhavan: Awarded an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship

Faculty News - July 5, 2013

Purnima Dhavan has been awarded an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship (funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities) to conduct archival research next year for her new book project, Brave New Worlds: Literary and Professional Networks in Late Mughal India.

Read more about Purnima Dhavan

"Cities are the Living Embodiments of Past Decisions"

Faculty News - April 22, 2013

Margaret O'Mara, recently interviewed by the on-line journal Crosscut, is bringing urban history to life in an innovative class project on the history of Seattle's dynamic South Lake Union neighborhood. Each student in the class examined a single city block of the area and used close observation, questioning,photography, and the study of public documents, to create a fascinating online portfolio of its micro-history. Read the full interview at History News Network (HNN), shorter version at Crosscut.

Read more about Margaret O'Mara

Calling all History Majors! Applications for History Fellowships, Scholarships, and Prizes are Due March 14, 2014.

News - February 7, 2014

In the Spring of 2013 the History Department honored several undergraduate history majors with fellowships, scholarships, and prizes at an awards ceremony and reception.

The 2014 scholarship competition is now open. The deadline to apply is March 14, 2014.

This year the Department of History will be accepting applications for the following scholarships and prizes for undergraduate history majors:

  • Faye Wilson Scholarship for Undergraduate Tuition
    The Faye Wilson Scholarship Fund makes possible multiple awards annually to undergraduate History majors. Wilson Scholarships vary in value at the discretion of the selection committee, ranging from one quarter of resident or non-resident tuition up to a full three quarters of resident or non-resident tuition plus a quarterly stipend of as much as $3,000. The awards are based on academic excellence and financial need, with preference given to students with a demonstrable interest in United States history. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors. Former recipients are eligible to apply.
  • Lois and Maurice Schwartz Fellowship for Non-Western History
    The Schwartz Fellowship Fund makes possible multiple awards annually to History majors with a serious interest in the study of non-Western civilizations (interpreted to include Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East but not the former Soviet Union). Schwartz Fellowships vary in value at the discretion of the selection committee, ranging from one quarter of resident or non-resident tuition up to a full three quarters of resident or non-resident tuition. The awards are based on demonstrated interest in non-western history and academic excellence. At the request of the donor, preference will be given to students studying the Middle East and Asia. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors. Former recipients are eligible to apply.
  • Sleizer Scholarship for Undergraduate Tuition
    The Sleizer Scholarship Fund makes possible multiple awards annually to undergraduate history majors to assist them with their tuition and other academic-related expenses, such as books and fees. Sleizer Scholarships vary in value at the discretion of the selection committee, ranging from one quarter up to a full three quarters of resident tuition plus a quarterly stipend. This scholarship will be awarded annually to History majors on the basis of academic merit as the sole criterion. Applicants for this scholarship must be enrolled in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.
  • Freedman Remak Family Scholarship for Non-Resident Tuition
    The Freedman-Remak Family Scholarship, named for Nancy Freedman and Ben Remak, was created to support History majors who face the high costs of out-of-state tuition. The Freedman-Remak Family Scholarships vary in value at the discretion of the selection committee but may range as high as $10,000. This scholarship will be awarded annually to non-resident History majors with selection based primarily on academic merit; financial need may also be considered. Applicants for this scholarship must be out-of-state students, enrolled in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.
  • Bryan Phillips Scholarship for Students with Disabilities
    This scholarship is offered in memory of Bryan Phillips, a UW student who graduated with a history degree in December 2000. Bryan had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); he passed away soon after earning his degree. This award provides up to three quarters of resident or non-resident tuition to a physically disabled student. The awards will be based on academic merit. In accordance with the donors' wishes, preference will be given to students with mobility-related disabilities. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.
  • Bicknell Fund for Academic Travel
    The Bicknell Fund, established by Professor Emeritus Daniel C. Waugh and administered by the History Department, provides travel aid for students who intend to study the languages and cultures of Russia, Eastern Europe, or Central Asia. Preference is given to students who are enrolled in formal language study programs, but under rare circumstances students with other travel plans may be considered. Upon return, the student will be required to provide documentation on their course of study, i.e. a certificate of completion from the language program, as well as a short (1-3 page) description of their experience.
  • The Douglass W. Merrell ‘Head of Logos’ International Study Grant
    The Head of Logos Grant is a study abroad award to be used for UW History majors participating in an approved study abroad program. The award can be used to help pay costs such as tuition, fees, airfare, room, and board associated with a study abroad program. The award will be determined based on merit and given to History majors enrolling in a study abroad program that earns UW credits.
  • The Denison-Kernaghan Award
    The Denison-Kernaghan provides multiple awards to history majors studying European Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, and Early Modern History to help with costs of books and coursepacks for UW classes.  Awards are merit-based to students with a demonstrated interest in these fields.
  • The Meder-Montgomery Award
    The Meder-Montgomery Award is a textbook scholarship for history majors without preference to field of study. Multiple awards will be given based on merit to help history majors purchase books and coursepacks for UW classes.
  • Thomas Power Prize for History Research Papers
    The Thomas Power Prize is given to an undergraduate research paper written in a University of Washington History course. Applications are generally accepted in the late Winter. First prize carries an award of $300; honorable mention carries $150. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.
  • York-Mason Award for Research Projects About African Americans in the American West
    The York-Mason Award is given to the best undergraduate research paper or project (including but not limited to scripts, photo essays, radio productions, television or film documentaries, or oral histories) on a topic in the History of African Americans in the American West, broadly defined as any of the states from North Dakota to Texas and west to the Pacific Ocean including Alaska and Hawaii, over the chronological period extending from 1528 to the present. Papers on western Canada or northern Mexico will also be considered. A review committee for the Department will select the best paper or project on the basis of the significance of the work, its style of presentation, and its contribution to the study of History. The award carries $500. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.

Visit the Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards webpage for information on how to apply.

Afsaneh Najmabadi to Present Public Stice Lecture on Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran

News - December 21, 2013

Public Lecture: "Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran" - January 15, 2014

Professor Afsaneh Najmabadi will present a public lecture on transsexuality in Iran on Wednesday, January 15th at 7:00 pm in Smith 205. This lecture, hosted by the Department of History, is part of the Earl & Edna Stice Memorial Lectureship in the Social Sciences.

Professor Najmabadi is the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. She has recently completed Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Duke University Press, 2013).

Since the mid-1980s, the Islamic Republic of Iran has permitted, and partially subsidized, sex reassignment surgery. In Professing Selves, Afsaneh Najmabadi explores the meaning of transsexuality in contemporary Iran. Combining historical and ethnographic research, she describes how, in the postrevolutionary era, the domains of law, psychology and psychiatry, Islamic jurisprudence, and biomedicine became invested in distinguishing between the acceptable "true" transsexual and other categories of identification, notably the "true" homosexual, an unacceptable category of existence in Iran. Najmabadi argues that this collaboration among medical authorities, specialized clerics, and state officials—which made transsexuality a legally tolerated, if not exactly celebrated, category of being—grew out of Iran's particular experience of Islamicized modernity. Paradoxically, state regulation has produced new spaces for non-normative living in Iran, since determining who is genuinely "trans" depends largely on the stories that people choose to tell, on the selves that they profess.

Download the lecture poster here.

Professor Najmabadi’s last book, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), received the 2005 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize from the American Historical Association.

In addition, Professor Najmabadi leads a digital archive and website on Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran. The project was recently awarded its second two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and was recognized by the White House Office of Public Engagement in May of 2012.


History Department Colloquium: “Writing History in a Digital Age” - January 14, 2014 (for UW faculty and graduate students)

In addition to her public lecture, Professor Najmabadi’s visit will include a colloquium for faculty and graduate students on women in Qajar Iran and the digital humanities. The departmental colloquium, entitled “Writing History in a Digital Age,” will take place on Tuesday, January 14th, at 2:30 pm in Smith 306 with a reception to follow.

Download the colloquium poster here.

UW Today on the History Lecture Series

News - September 26, 2013

UW Today has an article on the upcoming History Lecture Series, Slavery and Freedom in the Making of America

Slavery and Freedom in the Making of America Bookshelf

News -

As part of the fall 2013 History Lecture Series "Slavery and Freedom in the Making of America," four nationally-recognized historians considered the imagined roots of slavery in Greco-Roman antiquity, the origins and development of racial slavery across the Americas and its centrality to the creation of the United States, and the continued legacies of slavery in post-emancipation American life.

Interested in learning more? Dowload a PDF list of resources and key texts created by the speakers.


Alum Dan Hue-Weller shares how skills learned in history can translate to business

Alumni News - January 30, 2014

Dan Hue-Weller, president of Orca Bay Capital, a private investment company in Seattle, recently had this to say about what he learned as a History major at the University of Washington:

"In a Russian History course I read 10 books from 10 different authors about the same subject matter...and they were completely different. What I learned was if I could find 10 completely different perspectives on a single period of history, maybe I ought to refresh my own perspective. Maybe I ought to ask somebody else their perspective and hit the same content from a different angle...I thought that was immensely helpful in learning how to think.”

His interview was part of an ongoing provost report series on trends and issues related to leading change in public higher education. Click here to read more information about the provost's report series and to get involved in the conversation.

History News Network Features UW Alum

Alumni News - October 29, 2013

The History News Network recently interviewed UW History alum Kate Brown about her new book Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press). In Plutopia, Brown draws on official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia-the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias--communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Fully employed and medically monitored, the residents of Richland and Ozersk enjoyed all the pleasures of consumer society, while nearby, migrants, prisoners, and soldiers were banned from plutopia--they lived in temporary "staging grounds" and often performed the most dangerous work at the plant. An untold and profoundly important piece of Cold War history, Plutopia invites readers to consider the nuclear footprint left by the arms race and the enormous price of paying for it.

Everyone to Skis! Skiing in Russia and the Rise of Soviet Biathlon

Alumni News - August 29, 2013

William D. Frank, a 2011 Ph.D. from the Department, will read from his new book, Everyone to Skis!  Skiing in Russia and the Rise of Soviet Biathlon (Northern Illinois University Press, October 2013) at the University Bookstore on on Thursday, November 7, at 7 p.m. Dr. Frank was a candidate for the United States Olympic Team in biathlon for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York and competed in cross-country and biathlon national championships and team trial selections for world championships from

1979 to 1985.

Graduate Student

Congratulations to History Graduate Student Mira Green

Graduate Student News - January 13, 2014

Congratulations to UW History Department graduate student Mira Green who recently received two national awards at the American Philological Association General Meetings in Chicago for her paper, "Witnesses and Participants in the Shadows: The Sexual Lives of Enslaved Women and Boys in Ancient Rome."  The awards are the Lambda Classical Caucus 2014 Best Graduate Paper and the Women's Classical Caucus Best Paper (Pre-PhD) in Women's and Gender Studies in Antiquity.

Read more about F. Mira Green

Congratulations to History Graduate Student Micaela Campbell

Graduate Student News - September 18, 2013

Congratulations to History graduate student Micaela Campbell, who was awarded a Fulbright-Hays grant for her research in Java, Indonesia. She is also the receipient of a Blakemore Advanced Language Study grant and plans to leave this month to begin that work. The Fulbright allows her additional time in Java and, significantly, at least 3 months in Holland for archival research.

Jessie Kindig selected as the Alvord Fellow in the Humanities for 2013-14

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Jessie Kindig (U.S. History) was selected as the Alvord Fellow in the Humanities for 2013-14. The Alvord Fellowship is the University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences's most prestigious graduate student award in the Humanities.

Maria Quintana receives a 2013 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Maria Quintana received a 2013 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for her dissertation Be Our Guest (Worker): Making Meaning out of Race, Labor and Empire during the U.S. Emergency Labor Programs, 1942-1964. The Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship is one of the most competitive dissertation fellowship competitions in the country, selecting only the top 5% of applicants to become Fellows.

Antony Adler awarded a Dissertation Improvement Grant from the NSF

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Antony Adler is the recipient of a highly competitive Dissertation Improvement Grant from theNational Science Foundation (NSF) for his project, "The Ocean Laboratory." Tony's dissertation looks at the development of ship-based oceanographic research in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with special attention to the problems of representing the results of research at sea as analogous to work in laboratories on land, and to the role of science in defining a Pacific World. Tony is also the winner of the American Geophysical Union's annual prize for dissertations in the history of geophysics.

Roneva Keel awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Roneva Keel was awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship from the Southeast Asia Center of the Jackson School of International Studies to study Tagalog and pursue coursework in Southeast Asian area studies.

Stefan Kamola accepts three-year post-doc with Princeton Society of Fellows

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Stefan Kamola has accepted a three-year post-doc with the Princeton Society of Fellows; and Allan Lumba has accepted a two-year Global American Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University's Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.