Under the direction of the Acting Chair of our Graduate Studies Committee, Artemis Leontis, a prize committee comprised of three members-- Nektaria Klapaki, Yiorgo Topalidis, and Konstantina Zanou--convened and decided to award the 2022 S. Victor Papacosma Graduate Essay Prize to Rebecca Shoup (University of California, San Diego) for her paper entitled “Women on the Move: Prostitution on Two Nineteenth-Century Eastern Mediterranean Islands.” This was a unanimous decision.
The paper addresses a gap on the hidden histories of women of the lower classes and their part not only in local histories (the case studies are taken from Corfu and Syros) but also the broader context of empires and the Mediterranean. The subject of prostitution is currently becoming an important subject of scholarly works, especially in the Mediterranean, because it shows how the working class in specific places contribute to the connectivity and unity of the Mediterranean. Dealing with very scarce archival material, as is always the case with a historical study of women, especially lower class women, the paper interweaves different scholarly materials to create an image of women on the move that is vivid and rich. The paper uses literary sources of the time from both the Ottoman and the Greek context well to complement the scarce archival sources. It shows a wide knowledge of other contexts across Europe, Asia, and the US, and uses comparison to support and enrich their argument. The paper also shows knowledge of the history of sexuality and specifically of prostitution; the history of movement across the Mediterranean context; and urban contexts in the period. Through local case studies and the comparisons it draws, it connects with a global trend and also with the scholarship and debates on several topics; it connects the local with the global in a way that aligns with a new kind of global history. The writing is good, the style is clear, the research question and methodology are evident, and research is strong and both uses Greek, Ottoman, and French sources and existing scholarship and positioning in the broader Mediterranean and imperial worlds of the era.
Rebecca is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the history department at UC San Diego studying modern European history, with minor fields in the early modern Mediterranean and the late Ottoman Empire. Her current research focuses on prostitution in 19th century Greece and the eastern Mediterranean from a social and cultural perspective. More broadly, she is interested in gender, migration, and their intersections in 19th and 20th century Greece. Rebecca completed her master’s in Modern History from the University of St Andrews and her BA at California Baptist University in Cultural Anthropology and Spanish and a minor in history. Prior to starting at UCSD, she taught high school Spanish and World History for four years.
Rebecca Shoup will be presented with the S. Victor Papacosma Essay Prize at the Award Ceremony of the 27th MGSA Symposium on Thursday, October 13, 2022, in Toronto: . Rebecca will also be invited to present the paper in conference-paper form at the Symposium.
The Victor S. Papacosma Graduate Essay Prize comes with a cash award of $250 and reimbursement to the prize-winner for expenses (up to $300 for travel and accommodations in addition to gift cards offered to graduate students participating in the conference). It also comes with a one-year membership to the Association.
The committee takes this opportunity to congratulate Rebecca and extend its gratitude to all those who submitted their excellent work!