Global and Comparative Faculty
James Delbourgo, Associate Professor
Ph.D, Columbia University
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Atlantic World, Science, Early Modern Expansionism.
James Delbourgo was born in Great Britain and educated at East Anglia, Cambridge (Christ's College) and Columbia, and previously taught at McGill University, Montreal, where he directed the program in History and Philosophy of Science. His research combines the history of science with imperial and global history and, most recently, the history and sociology of collecting and museums.His first book explored the practice of bodily electrical experimentation in colonial British America and the early United States, including but moving beyond the figure of Benjamin Franklin, and assessing the larger meaning of the American Enlightenment through transatlantic and Creole scientific culture. Since then, he has co-edited two collections of essays: one on Iberian, French and British perspectives on science and empire in the early modern Atlantic world; and the other on the role of go-betweens in making scientific knowledge across the globe during the decades around the turn of the nineteenth century. He has also published essays on underwater collecting and Caribbean salvage diving in the late seventeenth century; on colonial Jamaican natural history, cacao and the invention of milk chocolate; on the use of Newtonian optical theory and anatomical dissection to theorize African skin color in 1740s Virginia; on the dyeing, novelistic and chemical projects of the loyalist spy Edward Bancroft in Dutch Guiana during the era of the American Revolution; a co-edited focus section in the journal Isis on the scientific use of lists in the early modern era; and a co-edited special issue of Annals of Science on the history and philosophy of species in early modern science.His teaching includes Atlantic world history, history of science, collecting and museums, and the Enlightenment.
Temma Kaplan,Distinguished Professor
Ph.D, Harvard University
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Gender, Protest, Hispanic World.
As a comparative historian, I am interested in women, gender and sexuality and their impact on political popular culture in Spain, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States. This has led me to study Spanish anarchism, puppet theater, modern art, photography, political cartoons, historical memory, and various forms of direct democratic movements in Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the United States.
Neil Maher, Associate Professor
Ph.D, New York University
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Environment, Environmentalism and Global History.
Neil Maher received his Ph.D. in history from New York University in 2001, and is currently an associate professor in the Federated History Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, Newark, where he teaches environmental history and political history. Professor Maher has received numerous fellowships, awards, and grants from institutions such as Harvard University, the Organization of American Historians, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, and most recently from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He has published articles in academic journals including the Western Historical Quarterly, Environmental History, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, in popular on-line publications and blogs such as the History News Network and The Edge of the American West, and he has served as Historical Advisor for a PBS American Experience documentary on Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, which aired in September of 2009. He has edited a collection of essays by historians, scientists, and policy analysts titled New Jersey’s Environments: Past, Present, and Future (Rutgers University Press, 2006), and co-edited a special issue of the Radical History Review titled “Transnational Environments: Rethinking the Political Economy of Nature in a Global Age” (Duke University Press, 2010). In January of 2008, Oxford University Press published his book, Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement, which received theCharles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award for the best monograph in conservation history. He is currently working on a second book project, tentatively titled Ground Control: How the Space Race Scrubbed the Revolution, which will examine how efforts to put humans on the Moon engaged, and ultimately co-opted, the divisive politics of the “long 1960s,” including those of the Civil Rights, Women’s, Environmental, and anti-Vietnam War movements.
Matt Matsuda, Professor
Ph.D, University of California-Los Angeles
RESEARCH INTERESTS: History of the Pacific, Colonialism, Gender and Race.
Dr. Matt Matsuda is an award-winning scholar and educator and has been a member of the Rutgers History Department since 1993. He is the author of The Memory of the Modern (1996), Empire of Love (2003), and Pacific Worlds (2012), and is the editor of a Palgrave academic series. He lives as Dean/ Professor in Residence at the Honors College. Before assuming that role, he served as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program from 2010-2015, and has been the College Avenue Campus Dean from 2007 to the present.
Peter Silver, Associate Professor
Ph.D, Yale University
RESEARCH INTERSTS: Atlantic World, Early Modern Colonial Empires.
Peter Silver is an early American historian, with special interests in American Indian history, comparative colonial and imperial histories, and religious history. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and brought up mostly in Richmond, Indiana. He was educated at Harvard College, where he studied English and American history and literature, and at Yale University. He was an assistant professor at Princeton University, and since fall 2008 he has been an associate professor of history at Rutgers. He offers graduate and undergraduate courses in colonial and revolutionary North American history, Native history, and the history of the Atlantic world. His first book, Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2007) was awarded the Bancroft Prize and the Mark Lynton History Prize for 2008.
Nancy Sinkoff, Associate Professor
Ph.D, Columbia University
RESEARCH INTERSTS: Jewish diaspora, intellectual history.
Nancy Sinkoff is a cultural-intellectual historian of early modern and modern East European Jewry who is particularly fascinated with the question of how diasporic Jews understood politics. Her work focuses on both the European heartland (Poland) and on transnational settlements—in particular the United States—and examines how East European Jews and their descendants understood themselves as they encountered the political, economic, social, geographic, and religious transformations of modernity.Her first book, Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands (2004), explores the first encounter of East European Jews with modernity in the period of Poland’s partitions and the spread of the European Enlightenment to the East. She is currently at work on a biography of Lucy S. Dawidowicz, an American-born historian of East European Jewry who was raised in a Polish-Jewish immigrant family and as a youth traveled to Vilna, Poland immediately before the outbreak of World War II. Because Dawidowicz—motivated in part by the Holocaust’s role in brutally undermining Jewish security in the diaspora—later became an outspoken advocate of Jewish neoconservatism, her life and thought provide insight into the ways in which East European Jews understood politics.Professor Sinkoff has been the recipient of an IIE-Fulbright, a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, an Advanced Graduate Fellowship in East European Studies from the American Council of Learned Societies, and, most recently, the Donald C. Gallup Fellowship in American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Dr. Sinkoff has taught at New York University, Kazan State University, Russia, the International Cultural Center in Cracow, Poland, and has given lectures at the Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, and the Yarnton Center for Advanced Jewish Studies in Oxford, UK. She was recently elected to the board of directors of the Association for Jewish Studies.
Virginia Yans, Distinguished Professor
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Global Immigration, Gender.
I am currently working on a biographical study of the anthropologist Margaret Mead. I have produced and written a 90 minute documentary film MARGARET MEAD: AN OBSERVER OBSERVED which aired nationally as a PBS Television Special and continues to be broadcast worldwide. I am actively involved in a number of public history projects including the Ellis Island National Museum, the Women's History Museum and Leadership Center planned for lower Manhanttan, and the South Street Seaport Museum. Newer interests include a history of collectors and collecting and a history of "single persons." Along with Professor Rudolph Bell, I co-directed two projects at the RCHA, one on "singleness" and another on the "gendering of children" during 2003-2005. Recent dissertations I have directed include several topics related to immigration including women's citizenship, Japanese picture brides, and immigrant language usage. One of my recent advisees, Carol Williams, won the OAH Scott-Lerner prize for best women's history dissertation for her work on photography, race, and gender in the northwest territory.
Yael Zerubavel, Professor
Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania
RESEARCH INTERESTS: History and Memory, Intercultural Exchange
Yael Zerubavel is a scholar of memory studies with an expertise in modern Israeli society and culture. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that informs both her teaching and writing, her work explores collective memory and identity, national myths, the transformation of traditions, war and trauma, and cultural perceptions of space. Her work addresses the impact of nationalism, secularization, immigration and dislocation, the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the reshaping of Jewish memory in Israel and developments within Israeli culture. Her award-winning book—Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition (1995)—and numerous articles focus on the cultural construction of Israeli national myths and the politics of commemoration, drawing on historical sources, Hebrew literature, educational materials, popular and folkloric forms, as well as in-depth interviews.Professor Zerubavel continues to explore the impact of the Holocaust and the Middle Eastern conflict on attitudes towards death, sacrifice, and bereavement and the image of the Israeli war-widow in Israeli fiction and film. She is nearing completion of a book entitled Desert in the Promised Land: Nationalism, Politics, and Symbolic Landscapes (forthcoming), and is at work on another that examines contemporary representations of antiquity and the changing role of the Bible in contemporary Israeli culture. Her study examines an array of cultural texts and mnemonic practices including works of fiction, media articles, popular performances, and tourist sites.The Founding Director of the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Study, Dr. Zerubavel is also a Professor of Jewish Studies and History. She has taught courses on Israeli culture, Jewish memory, the Jewish immigrant experience, Jewish space, memory and trauma, and Israeli literature, as well as an interdisciplinary graduate seminar in cultural memory.