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Wednesday, April 14, 2004
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Ohio University history professor receives Fulbright-Hays award

ATHENS, Ohio (April 14, 2004) -- Walter Hawthorne, assistant professor of history at Ohio University, has received a Fulbright-Hays grant to study the Africans on the upper Guinea coast and in northern Brazil. He will spend the 2004-05 academic year conducting research in Lisbon, Portugal, western Africa and northern Brazil and plans to publish a series of articles and a book on his study, "Forging A Creole Atlantic Culture: Africans on the Upper Guinea Coast and in Northern Brazil, 1700-1815."

Hawthorne became interested in this project while researching his first book, "Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves: Transformations along the Guinea-Bissau Coast, 1400-1900" (Portsmouth: 2003). The book reevaluates long-held notions about the Atlantic slave trade's impact on a number of "stateless" -- or decentralized -- societies in Africa's Guinea-Bissau region. It shows that decentralized societies were by no means passive victims of the slave trade, as commonly depicted in the literature, but vigorously defended themselves from the incursions of the raiders.

Through research in archives and libraries and collecting oral histories, Hawthorne's study will examine the cultural backgrounds of the Africans who became slaves on the Upper Guinea Coast in the early 1700s and explore the Middle Passage from the Upper Guinea Coast to northern Brazil. He will also study how the Upper Guinea Coast Africans who were became slaves in northern Brazil formed cohesive communities and established a system of rice farming like that of their home region.

The Fulbright-Hays program provides grants to institutions of higher education to fund faculty to maintain and improve their area studies and language skills by conducting research abroad. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Post-Secondary Education.

Hawthorne teaches courses on African history and is a core faculty member in the African Studies Program at Ohio University. He earned a Ph.D. in African history from Stanford University and conducted dissertation research in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde with the support of a Fulbright Fellowship. Hawthorne teaches a seminar course on Africa During the Slave Trade and says this grant will give him the opportunity to add to the literature on that topic and to gather primary information sources, which can be used in his future classes.

Further information on the program is available on the Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education Web site at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/iegps/ or to find out about how to submit a grant application contact Ohio University's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at (740) 593-2857.

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Media Contact: Center for International Studies Assistant Director of Communications Jennifer Cochran, (740) 593-1842 or cochraj1@ohio.edu

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