The American Historical Association (AHA) has awarded its George Louis Beer Prize to Rutgers–Camden Associate Professor of History Emily Marker. Marker received the prestigious award, given to the best book in post-1895 European international history, for Black France, White Europe: Youth, Race, and Belonging in the Post-War Era (Cornell, 2022). The book tackles the deeply entangled history of European integration and African decolonization.
Black France, White Europe considers the question of belonging in postwar France, where leaders contemplated the inclusion of France's African empire in the new Europe-in-the-making. Addressing the longstanding structural contradictions of French colonial rule in Africa, Marker explores whether Black Africans and Black African Muslims could be both French and European. In a French republic that declared itself “colorblind,” Black French citizens nonetheless found themselves in a Europe rebuilding as white and raceless, and as Christian and secular.
“Black France, White Europe deconstructs France’s republican-universalist myth by revealing the profound impact of both young Africans’ activism and transnational processes of European integration on racial reconstruction in postwar France,” said Marker. Marker shows that idealistic pronouncements about the resurrected republic turning the page on France’s racist and colonialist past were fueled by a slate of optimistic youth and education programs that sought to develop genuine bonds of solidarity between French and African young people.
“The reforms were well meaning, but it was through the youth and education sector that the late colonial vision of imperial democratization ultimately collapsed,” Marker said.
Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, himself a historian, called Marker’s book an impressive achievement. “We congratulate Professor Marker and are pleased to acknowledge her success,” Holloway said.
Marker is proud to have been awarded the George Louis Beer Prize. “I’m honored to be in such good company,” Marker said. “Past prize winners and their books have profoundly influenced my intellectual trajectory and my own scholarship.”
Marker is also widely regarded for service roles in her field. She is rising president of the Western Society for French History, having previously served as its vice president. The Society embraces a dynamic, diverse, and engaged scholarly community committed to achieving equity and inclusion in the production and transmission of knowledge about the Francophone world.
The American Historical Association offers annual prizes honoring exceptional books, distinguished teaching and mentoring in the classroom, public history, and other historical projects. It is the largest professional organization serving historians in all fields and all professions. The AHA advocates for history education, the professional work of historians, and the critical role of historical thinking in public life.
Creative Design: Douglas Shelton
Photography: Ron Downes, Jr.