PhD Candidate Chelsea Berry Wins Eric Molin Prize at the East-Central American Society of 18th-Century Studies Conference

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Congratulations to PhD Candidate Chelsea Berry, who was recently awarded the Eric Molin Prize for Best Conference Paper by a Student at the annual East-Central American Society of 18th-Century Studies [EC/ASECS] conference.

Nicely done, Chelsea!

Below is the announcement from the prize committee:

The 2017 Molin Prize has been awarded to Chelsea Berry of Georgetown University (History). Her paper, delivered at the EC/ASECS annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in November 2017, is titled “Black Medical Practitioners and Knowledge as Cultural Capital in the Greater Caribbean.” Berry explores these practitioners’ complex relationship to their sources of medical knowledge, both traditional and textually-mediated; the controversial nature of their practice in the eyes of religious authorities and other medical practitioners, despite widespread demand for their services; and their diverse networks of medical knowledge and practice. The paper focuses on a specific case of two practitioners denounced for “sorcery” in Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) in 1749, thus addressing the sometimes overlooked Portuguese Atlantic. Berry analyzes the text of the accusation in the case, which the inquisitors ultimately declined to put to a full trial. Her analysis is based in a close examination of the details of this one case as reflected in the archive, while being positioned convincingly within a comparative discussion of wider patterns of medical practice among blacks and slaves across the New World. The committee, comprised this year of Joanne Myers, Ellen Moody, and chair John Heins, felt that Berry’s paper exhibited remarkable original research into primary sources, a sure-handed analytic approach, and an admirable clarity and precision.

John P. Heins, Molin Committee Chair
Research Library, National Gallery of Art
Washington, D.C.