UTSA faculty receive NEH grants to support historical work | UTSA today | UTSA

Glenn Martinezdean of the college, noted that the work of faculty members is exemplary.

“These projects are prime examples of the engaged, relevant and interdisciplinary humanities approaches that are increasingly becoming a signature of COLFA,” Martinez said. “This recognition of the innovative work of Dr. Nolan-Ferrell and Dr. Ermus by the National Endowment for the Humanities will continue to raise our profile in the discipline of history specifically and in the humanities more broadly.”

The two projects explore very different areas of interest.

Nolan-Ferrell, an associate professor whose work on the history of Guatemalan migration has appeared in The Washington Postuses oral histories and archival sources to explore issues of citizenship and human rights in communities along the Guatemala-Mexico border.

Her NEH scholarship will support her latest book, Migrants or refugees? Violence and forced migration in southern Mexico and Guatemala. The book will examine the causes and consequences of the Guatemalan Genocide which resulted in the death of approximately 200,000 indigenous Guatemalans and the flight of another 200,000 to southern Mexico.

While Nolan-Ferrell’s work focuses on the 1950s through the 2000s, the causes of mass migration from Central American countries remain constant over time. Unchecked violence, extreme poverty and corrupt officials – leaders who are often backed by the US government, she added – have rendered the Guatemalan government too weak to protect the people’s basic rights.

The UTSA professor explained that the contemporary refugee crisis on the US-Mexico border echoes previous forced migrations from the region.

“It’s a relatively similar process to what a lot of immigrants went through once they arrived in San Antonio,” she said. “I look at this process of how people really carve out spaces for themselves? Where do they access human rights even if they are not citizens? My work explores what we can learn about the Mexican-Guatemalan crisis and how Mexico integrated refugees and ultimately developed a stronger community and economy because of them.

Ermus, assistant professor, has written about pandemics for publications such as Atlantic, The Washington Post and New statistics. She is co-founder and co-editor of the open source digital publication age of revolutions.

Ermus’ project is centered on his book, The Great Plague Scare of 1720: Catastrophe and Society in the Early Modern World, which focuses on the Plague of Marseilles (also known as the Plague of Provence) in southern France. Ermus has engaged professionals in a variety of fields, including sociologists, geographers and microbiologists to capture a comprehensive look at how this particular plague has changed the world. The impact of this particular plague fear was felt throughout Europe and Asia, as far away as the commercial capital of Manila and overseas to the colonies on the Atlantic.

Ermus shared how his work is particularly relevant as the world struggles to recover from two years of significant illness.

“My research sheds light on the 18th century, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant to us today,” she said. “Diseases have affected people since the beginning of human history and they will continue to do so. The lessons we have learned over the centuries still matter.

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