Visiting Assistant Professor of History Taylor Spence has been awarded two research fellowships. The first award has been funded under the McColl Research Program in the American Geographical Society Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries. This fellowship will allow Spence to spend four weeks at the AGSL revising his book manuscript, The Endless Commons: Contested Borders, Land-Right Cultures, and the Origins of American Expansion, 1783-1848. The second award is from the Filson Historical Society, which encourages research in all aspects of the history of Kentucky and the regions of the Ohio Valley and Upper South, and will provide one week of support for the same book project.
Spence’s book chronicles the eruption of five revolts and one revolution in a place he calls the British-American Borderland, a contested zone between British Canada and the eastern United States. In seeking to understand why these rebellions took place in this region, how they were connected, and what they portended for the future of indigenous people and settlers in North America, Spence argues that they arose out of the evolving belief on the part of settlers to a share in “The People’s” domain—the commons. This belief came to comprise an ideology of land-right—the justification for taking and possessing land—by mid-century.
The forthcoming publication of Spence’s book and related articles will fulfill one of the major goals of the McColl program, which is to broadly promote geographical literacy, as well as that of the Filson Historical Society, which anticipates that fellows will publicize the results of their research in Ohio Valley History, a peer-reviewed journal published jointly by the Filson, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the University of Cincinnati.
In addition to teaching three courses in the history department this semester, Spence is also working on his second book which will examine the worldwide diaspora of Jewish agrarians and their impact on the environment.