To bring together scholars who explain historical phenomena using the methods of the social sciences

Jury report 2018

Jury Report

Stephanie Mawson wins the third Jan Lucassen Award: full jury report

The Professor Jan Lucassen Award 3rd year
12th ESSHC conference Belfast 2018

Dear ESSHC participants, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to present to you the jury report on the Jan Lucassen Award for young scholars. It is the third time that this prize is being bestowed for the best paper by a PhD student given at the ESSHC and submitted to the jury by mid-January.
This award was inaugurated in appreciation of Professor Jan Lucassen’s achievements in International and Comparative Social History on the occasion of his retirement in 2012. The criteria for the papers are:
1) They should be based on original research;
2) They should be innovative;
3) They should explicitly strive to explain historical phenomena using the methods of social sciences;
4) Papers with an international comparative approach are preferred.
The jury that evaluated the submissions was formed, as in the previous years, by the chair, Professor Jan Lucassen himself, emeritus-professor of international and comparative social history at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and honorary fellow of the IISH, Professor Peer Vries, an economic and social historian who retired from Vienna University and now is a research fellow at the IISH, and myself, Christine Moll-Murata, a China historian working at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
Starting from 2020, the jury will be reorganized: Two new members will join us: Silke Neunsinger from Uppsala University in Sweden and Andrea Caracausi from Padova University in Italy. Thereafter, one of the present members will withdraw in each round, so that the jury is being regularly renewed.
The number of papers submitted that met all formal requirements rose to 9, and thus were a 50% increase compared to the last round. This is a positive development indeed, and yet the jury would be glad about even more submissions in two years from now.
As in the previous rounds, the jury members assessed the papers independently and then jointly discussed the rankings. In this way, the jury decided for one winner and two honorable mentions. As before, the jury is grateful to Els Kuperus for her support in receiving and distributing the papers.
Chronologically, the range is wide and spans the period from Ancient Rome up until the late 20th century. Geographically, the papers are predominantly on Europe, two concern South and East Asia. The thematic scope of the papers is broad. Amongst them are an analysis of views on masculinity in early 20th century Turkey, state social policies in 19th century Lisbon and family strategies in the Netherlands at the same period, with both papers focussing on orphaned children. Furthermore we received submissions concerning political procedures in Spain under Franco and during the democratization process, Christian missions and education in Ceylon and Malaysia, and an application of Marcel Mauss’s theory of the gift to the analysis of the social practice of patronage in the Roman Antiquity.
The candidates are based at the universities of Cambridge, Brussels, Utrecht, Bologna and Poitiers, Bogazici Istanbul, Universidad di Cantabria (Santander), Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Nijmegen and Maastricht. These were all interesting, well-researched and engagedly written papers. Among them, three stood out which were chosen for the two Honorable Mentions and the Jan Lucassen Prize.
I will start with the Honorable Mentions.
Janna Everaert’s contribution, “Political Elites and the Mastery over Urban Space in Late Medieval Antwerp” is the geographically closest to Belfast. Janna is based at the Universities of Brussels and Antwerp. Her supervisor is Professor Frederik Buylaert of the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Janna’s paper discusses in a very convincing manner the space taken physically and in a figurative sense by the powerful and rich people of Antwerp. She places this in the context of the debate on residential patterns in pre-industrial cities. Did the politically powerful elites in the early modern era possess and inhabit the real estate in the city centers up until the industrialization? Or had they already moved to residential areas at the outskirts by the sixteenth century, while commerce and artisan production dominated the city centers?
Janna shows by the example of Antwerp, in a sophisticated application of both archival research and GIS presentation, that things were not as clearly defined. The power elites did relocate to other parts of the city, but not to the outskirts, and a kind of social segregation took place between expensive main streets and more affordable side streets. The political elites represented in the City Council obviously realized and created business opportunities for themselves by way of quick response and anticipation to changes in the real estate market. While the focus is on Antwerp, Janna also suggests comparative perspectives on French, Spanish, and especially Italian urban dwelling patterns. In our period of gentrification, the subject lends itself to further deliberations on historical continuities in Antwerp and elsewhere.
A geographically more extensive topic is Robin Philips’s and Zhang Zipeng’s paper on “Foreign Direct Investment in the Chinese Mining Industry (1890-1920): Experiences of the Dutch Entrepreneur Pieter Bakels”. Zipeng and Robin both are working for their doctoral degrees at Utrecht University under the supervision of Jan Luiten van Zanden.
In their paper, the two researchers are demonstrating the case of a Dutch entrepreneur who did not have the direct backing of a colonial army to enforce the rights for setting up and exploiting a gold mine in Eastern Inner Mongolia. This region then belonged to the Qing dynasty and is now part of the People’s Republic of China. The issue at stake is the relatively low foreign direct investment in the Qing empire as a share of the national income in the early 20th century. Was this due to the inabilities and protectionist attitude of the Qing central government and the local administration? Or were the foreign investors themselves to blame for a lack of knowledge about local institutions? By way of analyzing evidence in Dutch and Chinese archives, Robin and Zipeng conclude that it was local officials’ growing distrust of the foreign entrepreneur and the foreign entrepreneur’s lack of knowledge about local institutions that caused a conflict that led to the failure of that particular project.
Yet not everybody failed. For other foreign entrepreneurs were more resourceful than the Dutch entrepreneur Bakels. Still, Robin and Zipeng clearly outline the general picture that in the early twentieth century, cooperation of Western investors with local powerholders like the Mongolian Prince Gongsang Norbu was complicated, especially if the relationship of both parties to the central government was anything but an easy one.
Now to the First Prize: This year’s Jan Lucassen Award goes to Stephanie Mawson from the University of Cambridge, where she is preparing her PhD thesis under the guidance of Dr Sujit Sivasundaram at the Faculty of History.
Stephanie’s paper “Fugitives, Apostates, and Mountain Communities: Upland Resistance to Spanish Colonisation in the Seventeenth Century Philippines“ is a very well-written piece of research. It is based on sources in the Spanish General Archives of the Indies, Department of the Philippines, and applies the methods of anthropology in order to address the issue of resistance to colonial rule. The locations of resistance in the Philippines most often were mountain regions. The dominant Spanish narrative was that of an ubiquitous Spanish colonization of the archipelago. This is being questioned by Stephanie’s innovative research which points to the limitations of the colonial expansion in the 17th century and beyond. She points out that when resistance and rejection of the Catholic missions was acknowledged in the colonial historiography, it was presented as exceptional. Yet actually,it was far more widespread than ever admitted. Looking at the case of headhunting in a mountain area to the west of Luzon, she applies the insights of anthropological research in order to explain the specific forms of violence among the people who lived as hunter-gatherers in that region.
In its clear argumentation that both engages with colonial and post-colonial discourses and is solidly based on archival evidence, Stephanie has competently and convincingly taken an international comparative approach. This, as is stated in the jury report to the 2014 round of the competition of the Jan Lucassen Award, is the most difficult of the requirements for this distinction. Stephanie Mawson will receive the prize because besides requirements one to three, she has mastered this exigency in the best manner.

Christine Moll-Murata