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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Amy Shuman


Mershon affiliates Hollie Nyseth Brehm and Amy Shuman have received the 2016 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. This is the university’s most prestigious teaching award, recognizing a maximum of 10 faculty members for their teaching excellence each year.

Nyseth Brehm is assistant professor of sociology studying mass violence, human rights violations, and mass crime — why they occur, how they occur, their effects, and responses to them. Her research on genocide courts in Rwanda was supported by the Mershon Center.

Shuman is professor of English specializing in folklore, narrative, and critical theory. She is author of books and articles on conversational narrative, literacy, political asylum, disability, food customs, feminist theory and critical theory.

At the Mershon Center, Shuman has organized numerous conferences and symposia, as well as recevied grants for her research on political asylum. She currently serves as director of Disability Studies and director of the Diversity and Identity Studies Collective.

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Janet Box-Steffensmeier

Janet Box-Steffensmeier, Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science and divisional dean of social and behavioral sciences, will receive the Outstanding Professional Achievement award from the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Women’s Caucus. As part of this award, the MPSA will host a roundtable honoring Box-Steffensmeier and celebrating her important contributions to the discipline and the profession.

Box-Steffensmeier is a member of the Mershon Center Oversight Committee. She served as president-elect, president and immediate past-president of the MPSA, 2011-2013.

Margaret Newell

Mershon faculty affiliate Margaret Newell has been on the speaking circuit this year for her new book, Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery (Cornell University Press, 2015). The book began with a 2006 grant from the Mershon Center.

In Brethren by Nature, Newell reveals a little-known aspect of American history: English colonists in New England enslaved thousands of Indians. Massachusetts became the first English colony to legalize slavery in 1641, and the colonists' desire for slaves shaped the major New England Indian wars, including the Pequot War of 1637, King Philip's War of 1675–76, and the northeastern Wabanaki conflicts of 1676–1749. When the wartime conquest of Indians ceased, New Englanders turned to the courts to get control of their labor, or imported Indians from Florida and the Carolinas, or simply claimed free Indians as slaves.

Drawing on letters, diaries, newspapers, and court records, Newell recovers the slaves’ own stories and shows how they influenced New England society in crucial ways. Indians lived in English homes, raised English children, and manned colonial armies, farms, and fleets, exposing their captors to Native religion, foods, and technology. Some achieved freedom and power in this new colonial culture, but others experienced violence, surveillance, and family separations.

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Kendra McSweeney

Mershon affiliate Kendra McSweeney, professor of geography, is the author of a new report, "The Impact of Drug Policy on the Environment" (Open Society Foundations, 2015). The report responds to recent calls by both the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Global Commission on Drug Policy for drug policy debates to be based on the latest and best empirical evidence.

The report was funded by two grants from Open Society Foundations' Global Drug Policy Program to study the drug trade in Central America. These grants in turn were rooted in a 2011-12 grant from the Mershon Center.

McSweeney was also interviewed for an article in Vice News.