Daniel Hershenzon Awarded Fellowship at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies

The Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages is very proud to announce that Daniel Hershenzon has been awarded a fellowship at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies for the academic year 2019-2020. This is one of the most prestigious fellowships in North America.


Professor Hershenzon joined UConn in 2012 after having received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan. He has won many fellowships over his young career, most recently at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute and the Bard Graduate Center. Before coming to UConn, and among many other prizes, he earned a Max Weber Post Doctoral Fellowship at the European University Institute and a Bernadotte Schmitt Research Grant from the American Historical Association. His work has appeared in Past and Present, the Journal of Early Modern History and Philological Encounters.


His new project builds on the work of his first book The Captive Sea: Slavery, Commerce and Communication in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean (University of Pennsylvania Press), but shifts emphasis to the unstable status of religious objects often looted, sold, or held for ransom side-by-side with people.


In his abstract for Institute for Advanced Studies, Captive Objects: Religious Artifacts and Piracy in the Early Modern Mediterranean, Hershenzon describes

how religious artifacts trapped in the maritime plunder economy became the contentious subject of conflicting claims by a host of actors. Religious artifacts—Korans and Bibles, prayer shawls, crosses, images of Christ and the Virgin Mary, and relics—circulated in their thousands in the early modern western Mediterranean, crisscrossing the boundaries between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. This mobility was largely a byproduct of piracy to which 2 to 3 million persons from all sides fell fate between 1500 and 1800 and which intertwined Spain, Italy, Morocco, and Ottoman Algiers. Reconstructing objects’ trajectories and their involvement in human trafficking sheds new light on the experience of captivity and the practice of redemption, of both people and objects. More importantly, the project argues, the captivity of religious artifacts turned objects previously isolated in their respective realms into contentious objects that formed a distinct category and acted as religious boundary markers within and among confessions.


The Department warmly congratulates him for this notable distinction.