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Welcome to the Social Science History Association

41st Annual SSHA Meeting

2016 Conference

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2015 Sharlin Memorial Award Winners

Emily Erikson’s Between Monopoly and Free Trade contributes to one of the biggest debates in the social sciences, the economic rise of the western world, and manages to teach us something new about it.  Erickson uses network theory and painstaking archival analysis to show that the East India Company adopted a decentralized pattern that made it remarkably innovative, despite its status as a monopoly.  This close study shows how monopolies can respond creatively.  One committee member said: “What most impressed me about this book was the methodological rigor of the author…her quantitative analysis of ships voyages…provides an excellent how-to demonstration for young scholars looking to do similar types of work….Her writing skills are superb, and the book is very well structured.”  Another wrote: “The evidence is wonderful, massive, and handled in intriguing ways.”  “I learned a great deal I did not know – and am glad to know it…I found myself sharing facts and insights from this book with my students.”

Mara Loveman’s National Colors: Racial Classification and the State in Latin America asks another of the big questions: why societies categorize their citizens by race.  Loveman argues that across the countries of Latin America, racial classification was the result of state-building processes that were tied to the international quest for “racial improvement,” as Latin American state builders sought to document that their populations were “whitening” according to the tenets of scientific racism.  This project was discredited in the middle of the twentieth century, but at the end of the century multiculturalism introduced a new rationale for racial classification.  Loveman shows how closely tied Latin American state building has been to international developments, and the consequences of this for Latin American societies.  Committee members praised the book’s “substantial research effort” and said “This book was tremendously impressive in terms of the amount of detail and analysis conducted by the author…I imagine it will become the go-to reference for the subject.”