Associate professor uses residency in Italy to collaborate on book

March 5, 2015 | Features, Research, UToday, Honors
By Staff

Writing a book can be a significant challenge no matter the circumstances, but imagine doing so on an emerging topic of research while competing with scholars across the globe for financial support from a prestigious foundation. Now imagine the difficulty of collaborating on the project with three other researchers — partners who are spread around the globe.

Dr. Barbara Alice Mann worked on a project focusing on international massacres in Italy in November thanks to the Bellagio Resident Fellows Program.

Dr. Barbara Alice Mann worked on a project focusing on international massacres in Italy in November thanks to the Bellagio Resident Fellows Program.

Not only did Dr. Barbara Alice Mann do all of this last semester, she helped to compile the research into a book over the span of just 15 days.

Mann, associate professor of humanities in the Jesup Scott Honors College, participated in the Bellagio Resident Fellows Program in Italy in November. She was there as a contributing author on a project focusing on international massacres.

The team has been working for the last five years to examine Tasmanian, North American, South African, and Napoleonic French colonial massacres between 1780 and 1820.

“We have been seeking to distinguish massacre from genocide — in assessing what constitutes massacre, its purposes, architects, initiators, effects, targets, and ultimate outcomes — looking for consistent patterns to see what conclusions might be drawn about them,” Mann said.

While at the Bellagio Center, she worked with fellow scholars Dr. Philip Dwyer and Dr. Lyndall Ryan, professors in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle in Australia, and Dr. Nigel Penn, professor of historical studies at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

In Italy, the team members combined their knowledge to define and assess the colonial massacres executed against indigenous peoples by European explorers in North America, Tasmania, South Africa and Eastern Europe. This topic forms the subject of their forthcoming book, The Dark Side of Empire: Colonial Massacres, 1780-1820.

“Had it not been for the Bellagio residency, pulling all this together from the four corners of the world would have been almost insurmountably difficult,” Mann said.

The team members arrived at the Bellagio Center having already completed their assigned research into the topic and then “pounded out the entire draft” of the manuscript into a “smooth, accessible treatment,” Mann said.

The program has been funded through the Rockefeller Foundation and is designed to foster focused, goal-oriented work in a serene environment — providing the opportunity to establish new connections with fellow residents.

Past applicants accepted into a residency program with the foundation include scholars, artists, thought leaders, policymakers and practitioners who share in the foundation’s mission of promoting the well-being of humanity throughout the world.

“The four of us were able to draft the entire book jointly in the three weeks we were in Bellagio,” Mann said. “Now we are revising, adding citations, et cetera, and figure to have that all done in March.”

Once the final draft is finished, they plan to send the book to readers in preparation for contacting publishers, starting with Harvard and Yale University presses, with the goal to have the book in print by the end of the year.

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