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The birth of democracy in India, the way in which the Atlantic slave trade was expressed in visual culture, the secret archive of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, among the winners of the Dan David Prize

The Dan David Prize, the largest history prize in the world, announced nine winners for 2024 * The winners are historians, archaeologists and outstanding researchers in the field of history 

Pushkar, India. The effect of colonization. Illustration: depositphotos.com
Pushkar, India. The effect of colonization. Illustration: depositphotos.com

The Dan David Prize, the largest history prize in the world, has announced the winners for 2024. The nine winners are historians, archaeologists and early (and middle) researchers whose work illuminates the past in bold and creative ways. This year's winning researchers work in Europe, Asia and the North America.

"In order to be able to decipher the complexities of the present and be prepared for the challenges of the future, we must first deeply understand the past," he noted Ariel David, member of the award's executive committee and son of the founder Dan David. "Using innovative methods and materials, the winners provide us with valuable historical insights that illuminate many areas in a new light, from the cradle of modern India, through the secret archives of the Warsaw Ghetto to the deep connections between the Vikings and the East."

The winners of the Dan David Prize for 2024:

·       Kisha n. Blaine (Keisha N. Blain), Brown University (USA) - historian of the USA in the 20th century, with an emphasis on the history of black women. Her research reveals the roles played by black working-class women in the civil rights movement and other movements for radical social change. Blaine is a regular columnist for MSNBC and has published several award-winning books, including a biography of social activist Fannie Lou Hymer, an anthology of African-American history, and a collection of essays by black women on the future of democracy.

·       Benjamin Bruzzi (Benjamin Brose), University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (USA) - a researcher of religion in China, whose work deals both with the early history of Buddhism in China, and with the way in which ancient religious narratives evolved into religious beliefs and rituals in contemporary Asia. In his work, Bruzzi examines the ability of stories to change people's insights and experiences, with an emphasis on Buddhist stories such as the travels of the Buddhist monk Shwanzeng who lived in the seventh century AD, but whose story continues to be told throughout the history of Asia to the present day.

·       Cecil Pheromone (Cécile Fromont), Harvard University (USA) - art history researcher who examines the visual, material and religious culture of Africa, Europe and Latin America in the early modern period. Her contemporary work emphasizes the aesthetic connections between Europe and Africa, as they were created following the Atlantic slave trade. Pheromon also deals publicly with the issue of returning objects from European museums to their countries of origin, and with the question of what to do with historical works of art that convey controversial messages.

·       Kat German (Cat Jarman), UK - bioarchaeologist and historian specializing in nutrition, migration and the Viking Age. German uses forensic techniques such as isotope testing, carbon dating, and DNA analysis of human remains to reexamine historical narratives. Her research tells the stories of populations that are often absent from conventional historical research, such as women, children, and slaves. In the two best-selling non-fiction books she has published, she uses her scientific findings to tell complex and fascinating stories about Viking armies and the bones of English kings. Jarman is also the host of the history podcast The Rabbit Hole Detectives, frequently appears in archeology documentaries and previously hosted a season of the BBC archeology program Digging for Britain.

·       Daniel Utah (Daniel Jütte), New York University (USA) - cultural historian of Europe. His research uses familiar objects and everyday cultural practices as means of understanding past cultures over long periods of time. For example, in his latest book Yota examines how the idea of ​​"transparency", which is of great importance in modern Western culture, is directly related to the availability of transparent glass as a physical material, and especially to the architectural structure of glass windows.

·       Stuart M. McManus (Stuart M. McManus), the Chinese University of Hong Kong - a global historian of the early modern period, whose work links geographical regions that are mostly studied separately - North America, Latin America, West Africa, and South China. His research examines the Renaissance from a broad geographical perspective, and examines both the way in which ideas of humanism reached all parts of the world that Europeans reached during the Renaissance, and the connections between the Atlantic slave trade and a much wider network of trade and human trafficking that was not only focused on Africa and America, but throughout the earth during the early modern period.

·       Katherine Oliverius (Kathryn Olivarius), Stanford University (USA) - a social historian of disease, whose work demonstrates how past epidemics - specifically the yellow fever epidemic and the syphilis epidemic in the American South in the 19th century - affected the nature of society and perceptions of citizenship and capitalism. Oliverius examines how diseases connect to broader ideas in economic and social history, and in particular how the idea of ​​immunity against disease played a central role in the American South and created societies based on what she calls "immuno-capitalism" (capitalism of immunity).

·       Katharina Parson (Katarzyna Person), Warsaw Ghetto Museum (Poland) - public historian of the Holocaust and deputy director of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, her work focuses on voices that were silenced or considered "unworthy" to be used as part of the Holocaust memory, including women, children, those who were considered "collaborators", deported and refugees. Persson led the publication of the new scholarly edition (27 volumes) of the Ringelblum Archive (also known as the "Saturday Pleasure" archive) - the underground archive collected by Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust, which contains rare evidence of Jewish life inside the ghetto.

·       Trifordman Singh (Tripurdaman Singh), Institute for Research Students in Geneva, (Switzerland) – A historian of Southeast Asia, Singh examines the region's encounter with colonialism, the decolonization process, and especially the birth of democracy in India. Singh is active in public debates and research in India. His book on the First Amendment to the Indian Constitution - which significantly limited civil rights in the country and the ability to judicially review the actions of the government and parliament - provides an important historical context for contemporary political movements in India.

"Archaeology and history allow us to glimpse the backstories that dictate our lives today," said Professor Tim Cole, historian and academic advisor for the Dan David Prize. "A deep understanding of the past not only helps us understand how we got to where we are, but also serves as a reminder that reality does not have to remain static - indeed it is constantly changing. A look at the past invites us to imagine a variety of possibilities for the future."

The nine winners of this year's Dan David Prize were chosen from hundreds of candidates submitted by colleagues, institutions and the general public through an open submission process. The winners are chosen by an international committee of experts that changes every year. This year, the members of the award's selection committee are associated with a variety of leading academic institutions and universities in Europe, North America, India and Brazil. A complete list of the members of the Dan David Prize selection committee for 2024 is available here.

The Dan David Prize, awarded on behalf of the Dan David Foundation and operating at Tel Aviv University, was founded in 2001 by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan David, and was awarded for innovative and interdisciplinary works that contribute to humanity. In 2021, the Dan David Prize was relaunched with a focus on historical research, in recognition of the founder's commitment to the fields of history and archaeology. Today, the prize is awarded to researchers at the beginning of their professional career, with the aim of helping academics and public historians realize their potential at a time when support for the humanities is decreasing.

About Dan David, the founder of the award - Dan David experienced persecution in Romania under the Nazi occupation and under the communist regime, and became a talented photographer and later an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was fascinated by the idea of ​​automatic instant photography and founded a company that brought the automatic photo booth to Israel and other countries around the world. David showed great interest in history and archaeology, believing that understanding the past is critical to our own today. His full biography is available HERE.

 Dan David Prize It is the biggest history prize in the world. Dan David, the founder of the award, believed that the knowledge of the past enriches us and helps us face the challenges of the present, and is a basis for rethinking our common future. At a time when support for the humanities is declining, the prize honors the next generation of outstanding historians, archaeologists, curators and digital humanities professionals. Each year, up to nine researchers are awarded a grant of $300,000 each in recognition of their achievements and to support their future endeavors.

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