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History professor awarded Berkshire Conference Book Prize
Assistant Professor of History Kate Ramsey was awarded the The Berkshire Conference Book Prize for the best first book published in any field of history in 2011 by a North American woman. Ramsey's book, The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti (University of Chicago Press, 2011), examines the significance of Vodou in Haitian culture, the development of legislation aimed at limiting it, and how Haitian communities maintained their spirituality.
In their announcement of Ramsey's award, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians writes:
"In The Spirits and the Law, Kate Ramsey examines the immensely important historical significance of Vodou and its relationship to a series of evolving laws meant to control its influence—both internally and as a discourse within a transnational context. Throughout her study, Ramsey deftly analyzes the complex relationship between Afro-Haitian spiritual practices and the law from 1835 to 1987, and argues that even as Haitian and U.S. elites blamed Vodou for Haiti’s underdevelopment, the Haitian people employed strategies of resistance that allowed them to maintain their religious beliefs, and at times to turn the law against itself. It is a model of both transnational and legal history. Through archival research and an ambitiously wide-ranging chronology, Ramsey has written a powerful first book that not only will impact the ways scholars position Haiti historically, but also the ways in which Haiti is viewed today. It deserves a very wide readership."
June 15, 2012