Events and News

Vancouver welcomes world historian Andra Chastain

Andra Chastain.The History department is happy to welcome Dr. Andra Chastain, who will join the faculty this fall as an assistant professor on the Vancouver campus. Dr. Chastain holds her PhD from Yale University and is a historian of modern Latin American and World history. Her dissertation is titled Vehicle of Progress: The Santiago Metro, Technopolitics, and State Formation in Chile, 1965–1989, and is a study of collaborations between Chilean and French engineers in the building of the Santiago metro, one of the largest infrastructure projects in modern Chile. She has published articles in the Journal of Urban History and Revista de Historia Iberoamericana on urban planning exchanges between Chile and California. She will be teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in Latin American and World history, as well as History 105 and courses required for History majors.

History welcomes 3 faculty transfers from Women’s Studies

In July 2018, the WSU Department of Critical Culture, Gender, & Race Studies (CCGRS) will merge with the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures to form the new School of Languages, Cultures, and Race, and the Women’s Studies program will move to the Department of English. Fortunately for the History department, three Women’s Studies faculty chose to join the History department. Our three new colleagues are Drs. Linda Heidenreich, Jen Barclay, and Luz Maria Gordillo (Vancouver).

Linda Heidenreich

Dr. Heidenreich teaches courses in Chicana/Chicano history, Queer history, and the history and culture of 19th-Century Mexico and the southwestern US borderlands. She will be offering new courses in these areas and spearhead creation of a Chicana/Chicano Studies minor, which will include a number of History courses. Her research is broadly interdisciplinary and focuses on questions of gender and identity in the borderlands region.

Jenifer Barclay

Dr. Barclay received her PhD from Michigan State University and is an African-American historian and a historian of disability. She will teach new courses in these fields and will continue her research on the lived experiences of enslaved people with disabilities in Antebellum America.

Luz Maria Gordillo

Dr. Gordillo’s research and teaching interests include transnational and immigration studies and the history of global feminism. Her latest book, Mexican Women and the Other Side of Immigration: Engendering Transnational Ties (University of Texas Press, 2010), won the 2011 Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists (ALLA) Book Award. All three will enrich the History catalogue while continuing to contribute to the Women’s Studies program.

Bachelor’s of Arts in History goes “Global” with new online major

Beginning in fall 2018, WSU will offer the History major through WSU Global, allowing students around the state, country, and world to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in History entirely online. The department has been teaching courses online for many years, but students were not able to complete the degree through online courses alone. This fall, all of that will change.

We have expanded the number of online offerings, including History 300 and History 469, and we have revised and updated existing courses. WSU expects the History BA to be one of the most popular online majors. We look forward to extending the opportunity for students everywhere to gain from the experience of majoring in History at WSU. Dr. Jennifer Thigpen will be the department’s new Coordinator of Online Programs.

Washington State University Global Campus logo

Roots of Contemporary Issues and the department welcome 3 new post-doc instructors

As the academic year comes to a close we look forward to welcoming our new post docs in the fall! Brenna Miller, Ben Nobbs-Thiessen, and Sarah Walsh will be moving in to the department in August where they will begin teaching HIST 105, Roots of Contemporary Issues courses!

Brenna is coming to us from Ohio State University and has just completed her dissertation, Between Faith and Nation: Defining Bosnian Muslims in Tito’s Yugoslavia, 1945–1980. She looks forward to teaching in her fields, which include Modern Europe, Empires and Nations in Eastern Europe, 1500–present, and Global History II.

Ben is making the Coug transition from his position as a postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University’s School of Transborder Studies. He graduated from Emory University in 2016 upon the completion of his dissertation, Cultivating the State: Migrants, Citizenship, and the Transformation of the Bolivian Lowlands, 1952–2000. Ben has taught the following subjects: Transborder Theory, Transnational Americas, and Migration in Latin American. TA for Nazi Germany, History of Quebec, and World History.

Sarah is joining us from the University of Lisbon where she is currently a postdoctoral research fellow. Sarah graduated with her PhD from the University of Maryland in 2013. She looks forward to connecting HIST 105 with the following topics in which she specializes: The Problem of Race, The Other in History (Graduate Seminar), Research Methods (Gender and Science in 20C).

161st Infantry Regiment Project

  • Sponsored by Edwin G. Park

This story begins in the fall of 1940, when the Washington National Guard’s 161st Infantry Regiment was activated into federal service as part of the 41st Division, but was later reassigned to the 25th Division. Between 1940 and1945, the regiment’s training at Camp Murray, Washington, was followed by deployments to Hawaii, Guadalcanal, New Georgia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, the Philippines, and Japan.

2 people read the history research posters.
Scholars review posters describing research into the history of the Washington National Guard’s 161st Infantry Regiment.

This amazing project is being conducted by Dr. Orlan Svingen and graduate students Laura Briere and  Jared Chastain, with the help of undergraduate interns Peter North and Dustin Ebaugh. The team conducted comprehensive research at WSU’s Holland/Terrell Libraries and Pullman’s Gladish Community Center as well as Camp Murray, the National Archives II, and the National Guard Memorial Museum. After nearly a year of work the 161st Regiment Project has since produced a 220-page manuscript, a 5-hour podcast, a 20-minute PowerPoint, a 15-minute video, and 5 historical standee posters. The IRP Team has presented their work at Camp Murray history conferences  before being invited back to the Campy Murray “Arsenal” Museum for an encore presentation that listed an invited audience of nearly 600!

Weller attends Farabi Forum at Kazakh National University

Participants in the KNU conference stand before an outdoor statue, flanked by women in traditional elegant dress.
Participants in the KNU conference.

Dr. Charles Weller was one of several international plenary speakers for the 5th Annual “Farabi Forum” at Kazakh National University (KNU, Almaty, Kazakhstan, April 3-4). His talk on “Al-Farabi’s World Historical Travels: From Central Asia and the Middle East, to Europe and Russia, and Back Again” was featured among presentations by scholars and dignitaries from Turkey, Syria, Tajikstan, the Netherlands, and Kazakhstan. The paper will be published in a Kazakh academic journal. He also presented in two panels for the forum, serving as co-chair for one. The panels were concerned with academic approaches to religious and cultural issues within the context of modern Kazakhstan. During the forum, he was interviewed by Aikap magazine and by the Kazakh film producer/director Sergei Azimov who inquired about: al-Farabi; Western-Islamic relations; Dr. Weller’s own experiences and perspective on Kazakh language, culture and history; and the importance of a multicultural worldview for continuing academic dialogue in today’s globalized world.

Charles Weller stands at the conference dias with a Kazakh image projected on the screen behind him..
Weller delivers his presentation at KNU.

During his week-long visit, Dr. Weller had numerous other opportunities to interact with Kazakh scholars, politicians and students. He was one of several featured national and international speakers at a one-day conference on “The Relation between Religion and Culture within a Secular State” hosted jointly by KNU, the Advisory Council for the City of Almaty and Almaty’s Almaly Regional Administration. He also offered three days of lectures to KNU honors and graduate students, met with his doctoral student, and—as part of another one-day international conference hosted by the Department of Religious & Cultural Studies at KNU—delivered a joint presentation on his recent edited volume, 21st-Century Narratives of World History, with his former advisor Prof Tursin Gabitov, who contributed a chapter to the volume.

Tolmacheva attends Middle East Studies Association Conference in D.C.

Marina Tolmacheva, front & center, smiles with and other members of MESA.
Tolmacheva at front & center.

Professor Tolmacheva traveled to Washington, D.C., in November to meet with colleagues at the annual gathering of hundreds of scholars and educators in MESA. The conference inspires research and discussion focused on the Middle East by promoting the region through publications and presentations.

At the conference, Dr. Tolmacheva and other MESA members celebrated the release of Concubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History, in which she contributed a chapter. The book was edited by Matthew S. Gordon and Kathryn Hain and was published last year by Oxford University Press.

Learn more about the Middle East Studies Association. The 2018 meeting will take place this November in San Antonio, Texas.

Gerber mentors two students awarded recognition at SURCA 2018

Participants and leadership of SURCA events 2018.
SURCA 2018 participants

We applaud our undergraduate students who participated in the 2018 WSU Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA). We would further like to recognize two award winners who were mentored by our own Dr. Lydia Gerber.

Krista Brutman received a Gray Award; her abstract was titled “Left-Over Women: Collectivist Feminism in Modern China.” The Gray Award is the second-highest award presented at SURCA, with at least one being offered in each of the eight categories of study. Krista is a mathematics major on the Pullman campus!


Will Millick received a Novice Researcher Award; his abstract was titled “Considering Women in the Great Leap Forward.” The Novice Researcher Award is given to students who have been working on their projects for two semesters or less and were awarded excellent marks by the judges. Will is an architectural studies major on the Pullman campus!

Congratulations to both students!  Review the abstracts and/or learn more about SURCA.