American Studies has come 5th in the UK with 74% of its research rated 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent) in The Research Excellence Framework (REF2014), a major Government analysis of university research quality. Within the Area Studies Unit of Assessment we were the highest rated for American Studies.
As a School, we nurture relationships with professionals, community groups and the public at every stage, from identifying research questions, through investigation, completion and dissemination. Because of this, our approach to the impact of our research goes beyond simply communicating our results to the wider world.
Our research benefits a wide variety of groups, from practitioners and professionals (film-makers, interpreters, lawyers, police, and teachers), to communities facing particular intercultural challenges (whether native communities or immigrants to Norfolk), and the general public (from local children to visitors to special events).
Recovering, Reclaiming and Communicating Native American Histories
When Dr. Jacqueline Fear-Segal emailed the Lipan Apache (Ndé) chief whose name appeared on the bottom of a brief, internet history of his tribe, she could not have anticipated what would follow. As part of the research that would develop into her award-winning book White Man's Club: Schools, Race, and the Struggle of Indian Acculturation (University of Nebraska Press, 2009), Fear-Segal had been researching the lives of two Apache students who were enrolled at the Carlisle Indian School at the end of the nineteenth century. The children had been sent to school as prisoners of war after capture by the US Army on the Texas border, and she wanted to find out more about them and their people.
An instant return email from Chief Daniel Castro Romero demanded to know more about her research into the children: they had been mourned by their family down four generations because no-one knew where they had gone. Fear-Segal shared the findings of her research, including the locations of the children's graves. The Lipan Apache chief and two other elders were keen to make the journey from Texas to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to conduct spirit releasing ceremonies for the children. For them and their people, the lack of traditional ceremonies for ‘the lost ones' was limiting the capacity of successive generations to move forward spiritually and materially. After the visit of the Lipan Apache elders, and graveside ceremonies in Pennsylvania, Romero explained: "Now the ‘Lost Ones' are found, the Ndé can again be strong as a people." This story has now also been told in a documentary, The Lost Ones: The Long Journey Home.
In October 2012, Dr Rebecca Fraser ran a public exhibition, Containing Multitudes, about slavery, race, and the American South, to coincide with and contribute to Norwich's Black History Month's celebrations. The exhibition of eleven letters held in the Sarah Hicks Williams archive at the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, was based at the City's Millennium Library, the cultural centre of Norwich, thus engaging in a process of knowledge transfer between the institution and several sectors of the Norfolk's general population. A series of public lectures and café conversations which she also convened ran alongside the exhibition, reflecting on aspects of Black History in the US and UK.
The exhibition developed from a research project undertaken by Becky in 2008 in relation to Sarah Hicks Williams, an antebellum woman born and raised in New York State, who, in September 1853 married Benjamin Williams, a slaveholder from Greene County, North Carolina. The archive containing Williams' letters (approximately one hundred in total) reflect in part, her transition from North to South; from daughter to wife; from "true woman" to "southern lady," and her journey, both literal and metaphorical, as she became ever more attuned to southern life, slaveholding, and her status as plantation mistress. The monograph based on this research, Gender, Race, & Family in Nineteenth Century America: From Northern Woman to Plantation Mistress was published in November 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan.
The Global Anti-Apartheid Movement in Norwich – Black History Month 2013
Furthering the School's close relationship with Norfolk Black History Month, this free exhibition explored Norwich's contribution to the anti-apartheid movement in the 1970s and 1980s, bringing together local and global history.
Housed at Norwich Millennium Library between the 15th and 31st October, the exhibition drew extensively on Dr. Nicholas Grant's pioneering research into anti-apartheid activism in the United States. It traced the involvement of local students, politicians and businesses in the international consumer boycott of apartheid South Africa.
Displays included posters, film, audio clips and documents from the archives of the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) housed in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. Various members of faculty, postgraduate students and visiting scholars gave free public lectures and hosted cafe conversations.
The School's involvement with BHM will continue in 2014 and beyond.