Past Prizewinners & Award Recipients


We are pleased to announce the 2017 MACLAS prize & award winners:

Harold Eugene Davis Prize

Maria Alejandra Aguilar Dornelles

Maria Alejandra Aguilar Dornelles

The Harold Eugene Davis Prize Committee, comprised of León Arredondo (West Chester University), Jennifer Jolly (Ithaca College), and Melixa Abad-Izquierdo (Farmingdale State College) has selected the essay, “Heroísmo y conciencia racial en la obra de la poeta afrocubana Cristina Ayala,” by María Alejandra Aguilar Dornelles, published in Meridional (October 2016). 

While all the entrants were very strong and engaging, we believe that Aguilar Dornelles’s essay is particularly well-poised to make a valuable contribution to the field by recuperating an Afro-Cuban poetess, Cristina Ayala, who until recently has been largely forgotten.  The article provides a rich historical context for understanding the significance of Ayala’s work to the development of Cuba’s late 19th and early 20th-century nation-building project, and reinserts an Afro-Cuban and female voice into Cuba’s revolutionary ethos.  Aguilar Dornelles makes her case for the importance of this Afro-Cuban poetess’s voice through her careful reading of Ayala’s texts, and considers the impact they had not only as printed texts within literary circles, but also as texts that were performed orally, allowing them to reach less literate audiences in Cuba. This essay not only makes an important contribution to the field, but also suggests various directions scholarship might go next, and we look forward to learning more.

arthur P. Whitaker Prize

Prof. Camilla Townsend

Prof. Camilla Townsend

The Arthur P. Whitaker Prize Committee, comprised of Diane Johnson (Lebanon Valley College), Johnathan Ablard (Ithaca College), and Gerardo Cummings (SUNY Onondaga Community College) are pleased to award this year's Whitaker Prize to Camilla Townsend, Professor of History at Rutgers University, for her book, Annals of Native America: How the Nahuas of Colonial Mexico Kept Their History Alive (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Dr. Townsend's main academic focus is the relations between the indigenous and Europeans throughout the Americas.  Her half-dozen books and numerous articles examine Mexico, the Andean Region and the Chesapeake Bay region.  She is particularly interested in the study of the Aztec language Nahuatl, the subject of the book that won this year’s Whitaker Prize. 

This is a beautifully written story based on hundreds of pages of rare texts, written over more than a century, and passed from community to community.  Professor Townsend has made an extraordinarily valuable contribution to the scholarship on colonial Mexico by solving some of the mysteries of these obscure annals, identifying and describing their authors, and explaining what they wrote and why. 

The committee members were deeply impressed by the originality and creativity of this book, as well as the painstaking and careful scholarship, and its lucid prose.  As one of the committee members wrote, “Professor Townsend has helped us to reimagine an elusive period in Mexican history, when the Old Order had collapsed, a New order was emerging, and when the survivors were both rebuilding and looking to what the future might hold, while also pondering their history.  This work more broadly asks of its readers to consider how humans write down the stories of the past and how they imagine their past.  The committee members, like many readers of this book, will never look at the Nahua the same.”

Christina Turner Graduate Student Travel Award

This year there were three recipients of the Christina Turner Graduate Student Travel Award: 

  • Maria Cecilia Ulrickson, University of Notre Dame, for her paper, "Shoring Up Slavery after Emancipation in Santo Domingo, 1801-1809"

  • Daniel Burridge, University of Pittsburgh, for his paper, "Violence, (Il) legitimacy, and Logics from Below: The Contradictions of Security Policy in El Salvador"

  • Miguel A. Valerio, Ohio State University, for his paper, "Festiìn hecho por las morenas criollas: Afro-Mexican Women Performing Sexuality, Cultural Identity, and Power in Colonial Mexico"

John D. Martz III Prize

The 2017 Martz Prize was awarded to Claudia González Rivas, graduate student at Villanova University, for her exceptionally compelling paper, “Disney y la dulcificación del (neo) colonialismo.”

Juan Espadas Prize

The 2017 Espadas Prize was awarded to Nancy Dennehy, undergraduate student at Arcadia University, for her outstanding paper, “Exploring Literacies in the Bolivian Indigenous Video.” 

Władysław Maryan Froelich Research Grant

We are delighted to announce two Froelich Research Grants for 2017:

  • Patricia M. Rodriguez, Ithaca College, for her project, “En el Camino a la Minga Global/On the Path to Global Minga” (see, $500.

  • Marina Malamud, Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, for her project, “Climate Change-induced Violence in Latin America,” $500.