Walter D. Love Prize
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 2023 prize will be awarded to an article published during the calendar year 2022. 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.
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. [Note: Articles considered for the Walkowitz Prize may also be eligible for the Love Prize, but the selection committees will operate entirely separately.]
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.
Farid Azfar (Chair)
Utah State University
May 1, 2023
Gili Kliger (Harvard University), “Translating God on the Borders of Sovereignty,” published in the American Historical Review in September 2022.
Gili Kliger’s scholarship forcefully explores the meanings of sovereignty and its intimate connections to British imperialism. As Kliger demonstrates, the “contagion’ of sovereignty that spread through the British empire in the 19th century” is part of a critically unstudied chapter in the history of political thought. A true model of interdisciplinary, exciting intellectual history, the article uses close reading, contextualization, geospatial visualization, and thick descriptions to connect sovereignty, indigeneity, translation, evangelical Protestantism, and imperial ideology.
Nana Osei Quarshie (Yale University), “Psychiatry on a Shoestring: West Africa and the Global Moments of Deinstitutionalization,” published in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Summer 2022.)
Nana Quarshie’s study of psychiatric care in British Ghana offers an exemplar of what it means to decolonize our history. The idea that the deinstitutionalization of psychiatric care was – and is - tantamount to the removal of an outdated colonial model is alive not only in scholarly histories but also in the rationales of international funding bodies. Nana Quarshie’s extraordinary article fully overturns this notion. The spread of deinstitutionalization was "forged at the interface of European imperial austerity and West African practices of caring for the mentally distressed." By showing how deinstitutionalization does not equate with decolonization, Quarshie opens new ways of thinking about both ideas.
The committee also selected one Honorable Mention: Arunima Datta (University of North Texas), “Becoming Visible: Travel Documents and Travelling Ayahs in the British Empire,” South Asian Studies (2022)
Arunima Datta brilliantly shows what can historians of empire can do with the dusty boxes of official documents – passports, wills, ship lists – that seem to exist in apparently endless quantities in the colonial archive. In “Becoming Visible,” Datta illuminates these sources with a painstaking attention to repetitive patterns, anomalies, lacunae and ostensibly random details in order to explore the identities and subjectivities of colonized subjects.
K. J. Kesselring (Dalhousie University), “Law, Status, and the Lash: Judicial Whipping in Early Modern England,” Journal of British Studies 60, July 2021.
Whipping was not invented in early-modern England, but as Kesselring demonstrates in this insightful and nuanced essay, its use as a form of judicial punishment rose and fell amidst the social, legal and political transformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The poor, particularly those accused of theft and vagrancy suffered the lash more than others, but it was these others—lords, parliamentarians, constables and magistrates—whose protests often resonated the loudest. Combining political debates, statutes, archival materials, and a reconstruction of proceedings from the Court of Star Chamber, Kesselring shows how the rule of law, so often celebrated as a feature of the period, emerged gradually from social and political struggles that reinforced inequality as a norm of theory and practice.
Ian Beattie (McGill University), “Class Analysis and the Killing of the Newborn Child: Manchester, 1790–1860,” History Workshop Journal 89, Spring 2020.
Ian Beattie’s essay, “Class Analysis and the Killing of the Newborn Child: Manchester, 1790-1860” offers readers a deeply humane, methodologically sophisticated, and beautifully written analysis of a seemingly all too familiar and widely discussed topic: working-class culture in an early industrial and urban society. Drawing on rarely used court depositions, Beattie approaches this topic from the far less familiar perspective of neonaticide and the dense networks of communal support for working-class women that arose around this not infrequent and yet specific form of birth control. These networks are revealed through the patterns of silence, obfuscation, delay, and deflection that can be traced in witness testimonies. At every turn, the essay is filled with new interpretive insights that keep the reader in a state of suspense, riveted not only by the extraordinary phenomenon of neonaticide but also the possibilities of microhistory as a genre. The result is an argument that demonstrates clearly and with impressive nuance and compassion the confrontation between opposing ethics of care that shaped the everyday experience of class in an industrial city. This is scholarship that should inspire established scholars, students, and lay readers alike.
Ellen Boucher (Amherst College), “Anticipating Armageddon: Nuclear Risk and the Neoliberal Sensibility in Thatcher's Britain,” American Historical Review 124 (October 2019), 1221-1245.
This bold and conceptually sophisticated article brings together expansive research and multiple historiographies to shed new light on nuclear policy, neoliberal politics, and the rise of Thatcherism. Building on histories of emotion and sensibility, and uniting this literature with political and military history, Boucher focusses on changing attitudes toward "risk" to account for the appeal of neoliberal individualism in Thatcher’s Britain. In contrast to the fear, anxiety, or apathy evoked by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s apocalyptic visions, many Britons, largely white, middle-class suburbanites, embraced a more optimistic visions than is usually recognized; survival in a nuclear war was possible, they believed, through their own personal planning and initiative. However irrational or fantastical, this self-empowering cultural sensibility explains why a silent majority supported nuclear militarization in the 1980s despite vocal efforts to denuclearize. The offloading, or “democratization,” of risk management onto individuals and the mistrust of state-centric disaster planning prevalent in the 1980s speaks in prescient ways to the dilemmas faced by neoliberal governments and societies in the age of COVID-19.
Joel Hebert (American University), “‘Sacred Trust’: Rethinking Late British Decolonization in Indigenous Canada,” Journal of British Studies 58 (July 2019), 565-597.
Divya Subramanian (Columbia University), “Legislating the Labor Force: Sedenterization and Development in India and the United States, 1870-1915,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 61 (October 2019), 835-863.
Jonathan Connolly (Princeton, from 2020 University of Illinois at Chicago), “Indentured Labour Migration and the Meaning of Emancipation: Free Trade, Race, and Labour in British Public Debate, 1838-1860,” Past & Present 238 (February 2018).
Connolly’s article seeks to answer a seemingly simple, yet big and important question: how is it that British public opinion shifted in favor of indentured labor around the middle of the nineteenth century, having just condemned it in the context of emancipation? Drawing on numerous and diverse types of sources, Connolly charts the shifting economic and political concerns, contemporary social-scientific discussions of race and labor, and he does so by placing these discussions within a broader, global framework (engaging questions such as the perceived fate of slavery elsewhere following indenture). It is beautifully argued, wonderfully researched, and draws together distinct trajectories in a clear manner. The result is a piece that bears huge implications for the field of British studies, and far beyond.
Elizabeth Prevost, “On Feminists, Functionalists, and Friends: Lobola and the Gender Politics of Imperial Trusteeship in Interwar Britain,” The Journal of Modern History 89 (September 2017), 562-600.
In a beautifully written and meticulously researched piece, Elizabeth Prevost explores the tensions inherent to liberal discourses of development in the context of the interwar politics of trusteeship. Focusing on the campaign against the institution of bridewealth in Africa, her story brings together an unusual range of actors: feminist activists and reformists, social scientists, missionaries, the British imperial state, and the League of Nations. Her nuanced and sophisticated analysis highlights the ways in which the debate on lobola generated surprising and unexpected divisions among myriad groups of actors. Prevost’s brilliant analysis weaves together the histories of feminism, liberalism, humanitarianism, social-scientific discourses, imperialism, and transnationalism. The broad intellectual reach and engagement allows her to offer important contributions to our understanding of these histories in imperial Britain and beyond, and sheds new light on the contradictory impulses and tensions that characterize the language of development and rights discourse today.
Christopher Bishof (University of Richmond), “Chinese Labourers, Free Blacks and Social Engineering in the Post-Emancipation British West Indies,” Past & Present 231 (May, 2016): 129-168