January 15, 2021 at 3:13 pm

Sheldon Wins Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize

Dr. Myrna Perez Sheldon, portrait

Dr. Myrna Perez Sheldon

The Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize, awarded in recognition of an outstanding article on the history of women in science, went to Dr. Myrna Perez Sheldon for her essay “Breeding Mixed Race Women for Profit and Pleasure,” published in American Quarterly vol. 71, no. 3 (September 2019).

Sheldon, a scholar whose work deals with the intersections of science, gender, race, and religion in America, is an associate professor jointly appointed in the departments of Classics & World Religions and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Ohio University. She also is the executive director of the Cutler Scholars program.

The History of Science Society’s website describes why the essay was worthy of special recognition:

Elegantly composed and invitingly written, Myrna Perez Sheldon’s article ties a broad story about the evolution of race science and racial policies and practices in America to a particular time and place, and more specifically to a particular woman and her descendents [sic.]. A microhistory in the very best sense, it begins with a single individual, anchoring the reader in her skin and her relatable aspirations. It then opens up dramatically to address significant issues in the history of slavery and its aftermath tied to a set of major developments in race science, while nodding in interesting ways to the idea of biopower. Like the best microhistories, the article is rich in big developments and big themes beyond the local scale of the original story. Perez Sheldon builds a convincing case for close links between slavery and a very American kind of eugenics.

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