Holy Cross History Professor Wins Prestigious National Book Award

Lorelle Semley is named co-winner of the World History Association's Bentley Book Prize for her book, "To be Free and French: Citizenship in France's Atlantic Empire"
August 9th, 2018 by 

Lorelle Semley stands in front of the O'Kane doors
Lorelle Semley stands in front of the O'Kane doors. Photo by Tom Rettig

Lorelle Semley, associate professor of history, has been named a co-winner of the World History Association’s prestigious Bentley Book Prize for her recent book, “To be Free and French: Citizenship in France’s Atlantic Empire” (Cambridge University Press, 2017). The prize recognizes scholars who have made outstanding contributions to the field of world history. Semley’s book, described by a reviewer as a “staple of reading lists for years to come,” explores the meaning of citizenship for French colonial subjects of African descent.

Semley’s research is both interdisciplinary and path-breaking, as she continues to make major contributions to the histories of Africa, the African Diaspora and the Atlantic World, as well as to women’s and gender history, urban history, race and empire.

In addition to this award, Semley and her scholarship have been recognized by the American Council of Learned Societies, which awarded Semley the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship. This esteemed fellowship provides a stipend and research budget of over $100,000, which will support Semley’s research on her project, titled “Bordeaux, Forgotten Black Metropolis.” On campus, Semley received this year’s Marfuggi Award for Outstanding Scholarship.

Semley also serves as the director of Africana Studies and is a member of the Peace and Conflict Studies and the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies faculties.

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