The RAI is very pleased to note the establishment of the Barbara Savage Prize for the best undergraduate thesis in Black History. It was created following a town-hall meeting run by the History Faculty, in which students were asked what could be done to make the teaching of history more diverse and inclusive and to advance race equality.
The inaugural Prize has been awarded to Sophie Gunning for her thesis 'A Taste of Freedom?'.
The Prize is named in honour of Professor Barbara Savage, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Savage was the Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History, based at Queen’s College and the RAI, in 2018-19. Her reflections on her time in Oxford feature in last year’s Annual Report.
On the creation of the Prize, she writes:
The new Black History Thesis Prize is a step toward making this field more visible at Oxford. Black history offers opportunities for exciting new research across time and space. The prize also signals that Black lives mattered in the past, too. History always teaches us about the present. We cannot understand the nexus between racial legacies of the past and the pressing current moment without knowing that history.
I am excited that the prize will encourage Oxford students to explore black history with the creativity and commitment I saw during my time there as Harmsworth Professor in 2018-2019. It honors the field in which I work and am humbled that it bears my name.