Historical Studies’ Manuel Awarded 2018 ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Jeffrey Manuel, PhD, associate professor of historical studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been named a 2018 Collaborative Research Fellow by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).

The ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship grants the time and resources to write a book comparing the U. S. and Brazilian biofuels programs during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The United States and Brazil are the world’s two major biofuels superpowers and both have a long history of using fuel made from agricultural products. Along co-author, Tom Rogers, they will be looking at this history to see what it can tell us about our world’s ongoing transition away from fossil fuels.

“The scholars who make up the 10th cohort of ACLS Collaborative Research Fellows exemplify the program’s aim of supporting collaborations that produce knowledge individual research efforts could not,” said ACLS’s director of fellowship programs Matthew Goldfeder. “Together they demonstrate what can be accomplished when scholars with different expertise work together to ask big questions.”

This year’s projects combine specializations in a broad array of fields such as art history, anthropology, classics, literature, and environmental studies. They address a range of time periods, geographies, and topics, from a translation and commentary on the Visigothic Law Code in late antique Iberia, and a comparative history of biofuels in Brazil and the United States, to an ethnography of Middle Eastern migrants and refugees along the Balkan route they take in an effort to reach northern Europe. Project titles and fellows are listed below; further information on this year’s Collaborative Research Fellows is available here.

 Manuel’s research interests focus on the history of industry, energy, and the American Midwest. Manuel’s book, Taconite Dreams: The Struggle to Sustain Mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range, 1915-2000, was published by the University of Minnesota Press. His research on the history of the iron ore industry has also appeared in Technology and Culture and several forthcoming edited collections. This research has been supported by grants and fellowships including a STEP Grant from SIUE’s Office of Research and Projects and the Norman Johnson Dewitt Fellowship from the University of Minnesota.

“I hope the ACLS fellowship brings attention to the outstanding research occurring in the Department of Historical Studies at SIUE. I’ll leave it to others to assess the value of my own contributions, but my colleagues in history are researching and writing outstanding work every day. I hope his fellowship raises awareness of their scholarship.”

Additionally, Dr. Manuel firmly believes that biofuels and energy research needs to include social scientists and humanities scholars in addition to lab scientists and engineers. The energy challenges of the future involve social and cultural factors as much as they involve technology. He hopes this research will lead to more interdisciplinary collaboration around biofuels and energy at SIUE.

“Overall, I hope my students understand how trends and decisions from the past have shaped the present world we live in. To truly understand why things are the way they are today, you need to engage deeply with history. This is certainly the case for energy. Our present energy regime—especially the American fossil fuel energy system—was not preordained. It emerged from specific choices and policies of the past. Understanding how this system evolved will shed crucial light on how future energy systems are likely to emerge.”

During the 2019-20 academic year, Manuel will work with Thomas Rogers, PhD, associate professor of modern Latin American history at Emory University, on a project entitled “Agriculture’s Energy: Learning from the History of Biofuels in Brazil and the United States.”

“Overall, I hope my students understand how trends and decisions from the past have shaped the present world we live in. To truly understand why things are the way they are today, you need to engage deeply with history. This is certainly the case for energy. Our present energy regime—especially the American fossil fuel energy system—was not preordained. It emerged from specific choices and policies of the past. Understanding how this system evolved will shed crucial light on how future energy systems are likely to emerge.”

“We historians work slowly, so it might be several years before any of this research is published. But Dr. Rogers and I will likely make presentations of our research before the book is complete and hopefully share it at academic conferences as well.”

A complete list of 2018 ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships is available at ACLS.org.

 

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