Message From The Editors – Spring 2021

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We are extremely delighted to share this inaugural volume of the University of California Santa Barbara’s Undergraduate Journal of History. Our editorial team extends a warm welcome to our new readers and a sincere thanks to the authors and peer-reviewers whose contributions helped make our journal possible. 

Made possible with undergraduates, and for undergraduates, the Journal strives to provide an engaging platform for undergraduate researchers to record and create history. We are interested in all facets of our collective pasts. Though rooted in the methods of the historian’s craft, the Journal welcomes research from related academic disciplines, political perspectives, and analytical approaches to provide a comprehensive and diverse collection of scholarship. We seek to create a space that generates the sharing of knowledge and ideas while facilitating debate, dialogue, and of course— curiosity. 

The articles in this volume begin with a study of twentieth-century Taiwan and the striking connection between shifting societal norms concerning male homosexuality and the overall push for international recognition of the island in the decades following the Chinese Communist Revolution. Within the same period but in the United States, the second article follows the controversial nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in the summer of 1987 and how it fundamentally changed the norms surrounding the American judiciary. The article on the 1908 Ashio Riot in pre-war Japan and subsequent labor movements argues that a new “Theory of Labor-State Relations” occurred in Imperial Japan during this pivotal moment for the country. 

You will also read in this first volume about the notion of ‘remembrance’ in framing historical study through the context of Chinese dance in the Cultural Revolution. This is followed by an important and albeit ironic discussion on the British Empire in the nineteenth-century, that analyzes the role religion and beer played as tools of colonial expansion and systems of prejudice, assimilation, and domination. Also included is an article that assesses the impact of the sixteenth-century “witch craze” in a small French village and provides a haunting analysis of the incalculable witch trials and the interpersonal relationships that unfolded as a result.

As you near the end of this volume you will find an article that examines worker strikes in 1980s Russia to argue that such action proved to be an important force in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The topic of civil unrest, in particular, that of the Troubles in Ireland is interrogated to reveal how the Northern Irish state ‘weaponized’ gender as a method of enforcement and control. Our volume concluded with a study of the rigid, masculine, and heteronormative culture of the Georgian Royal Navy that found such ideals were often at odds with the reality of sailor life.

If the undergraduate scholarship published here has garnered your interest, we invite you to submit your research to the Journal. We accept work from many fields and subtopics of history and starting in April 2021 we will be accepting submissions on an ongoing or rolling basis — and be on the lookout for a special call for papers that aligns with the UCSB History Department’s 2020-22 theme of Gender and Politics.  If you wish to see the full list of submission topics and guidelines, please visit our website. 

We hope you are as excited as we are about this and future issues of the Journal!

The Editors