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Nine Historians Awarded Dan David Prize

Nine emerging scholars of history from around the world were announced Tuesday as winners of the prestigious Dan David Prize, with each awardee receiving $300,000 to advance their work.

The Dan David Prize board said it is recognizing the historians for “changing our understanding of the past” by delving into under-researched topics. The winning research topics are staggering in their range: Dust in ancient dental plaque, interfaith rifts after the Holocaust, and white women’s complicity in slave ownership in American history, to name just a few. The award is administered by Tel Aviv University.

“Insights about the past should circulate through every part of every community,” said Aviad Kleinberg, historian and Dan David Prize board member. “A culture that does not understand its past is like an individual with acute amnesia.”

Dan David, the Romanian-born businessman who set up the foundation in 2001, initially aimed to recognize “outstanding contributions to humanity” with a $1 million prize each for three winners. Past winners have included renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert.

But in 2021, the award shifted its focus to recognizing and supporting an array of historical scholars in the nascent stages of their career who might otherwise lack the resources to expand their research. Many of the winning researchers this year employed innovative tools, with Adam Clulow from the University of Texas at Austin using virtual reality and video games to make Cambodian history accessible to young people and Chao Tayiana Maina from Kenya using technology to preserve African artifacts.

The other 2023 winners include: Saheed Aderinto from Florida International University, Ana Antic from the University of Copenhagen, Karma Ben Johanan from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Elise Burton from the University of Toronto, Krista Goff from the University of Miami, Stephanie Jones‑Rogers from the University of California Berkeley, Anita Radini from the University College, Dublin.

Note: The David Dan Prize committee provides this list of awardees and their research focus: 

  • Saheed Aderinto, Florida International UniversityA historian who uses unusual lenses such as sexuality, guns, animals and music to reexamine colonial identity and subjecthood in modern Africa, with a particular focus on Nigeria.
  • Ana Antic, University of CopenhagenA social and cultural historian whose research focuses on the relationship between politics, violence and psychiatry in twentieth century Europe, as well as the decolonisation of psychiatric practices and concepts. 
  • Karma Ben Johanan, Hebrew University: A scholar who looks at the relationships between different religious traditions, most recently working on how the Catholic Church  responded to Jews after the reconciliation attempts of Vatican II, and how orthodox Jewish thinkers have responded to the same developments. 
  • Elise Burton, University of Toronto: A historian of science, race and nationalism in the modern Middle East, focusing on the history of genetics, physical anthropology, evolutionary biology and biomedicine.
  • Adam Clulow, University of Texas at Austin: A global historian who reassesses power relations between Europe and East Asia, and uses video games and VR to make history accessible to both students and the wider public.
  • Krista Goff, University of Miami: A historian who uses oral history and everyday sources to understand the experiences of understudied ethnic minorities in the Soviet Union, especially those not recognized as nationalities by the state. 
  • Stephanie Jones-Rogers, University of California Berkeley: A historian who explores women’s social, economic and legal relationships to enslaved people and to the slave trade in the trans-Atlantic world. 
  • Anita Radini, University College, Dublin: An “archaeologist of dirt” who analyzes the tiny remains of dust that collect in dental plaque, and uses them to learn about the work lives and environments of people in the past. 
  • Chao Tayiana Maina, KenyaA public historian who uses digital technologies to capture and preserve previously hidden or suppressed historical narratives in Kenya, enabling communities to engage with their cultural heritage.
Read entire article at Associated Press