Karin Shapiro
  • Karin Shapiro

  • Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of African and African American Studies
  • Overview

    I study American social and southern history, as well as South African history. My interest in the political economy of race and coerced labor in both societies led to me to examine a dramatic Gilded Age labor rebellion in the Tennessee coalfields against the use of convict workers, the subject of my first book, A New South Rebellion: The Battle against Convict Labor in the Tennessee Coalfields, 1871-1896 (UNC Press, 1998). I also co-edited, along with scholars from the University of the Witwatersrand’s History Workshop and the Radical History Review, History from South Africa: Alternative Visions and Practices (Temple University Press, 1991).  This volume, though now dated, brought both more nuanced radical interpretations of South African history and provided an exposure of History Workshop historians to a wide range of American historians who sought deeper historical understandings of that country’s democratic revolution. 

    Committed to reaching audiences beyond a scholarly community, I have co-produced two films – one on South Africans in North Carolina (2005) and one on the international Fulbright program (2011) – and have curated exhibits on Nelson Mandela (2008) and Jewish history and life in Durham, North Carolina (2013).  By and large, these efforts have drawn on my abiding interests in the American South and South Africa.

    I am now engaged in three distinct projects. The first consists of a biography of Archbishop Walter Khotso Makhulu, archbishop of Central Africa between 1980 and 2000.  A graduate of the same seminary and a direct contemporary of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu who served as Archbishop of Cape Town, Makhulu played a key role in the anti-apartheid movement.  For years, he secretly funneled money from the Norwegian government and Norwegian state church to a wide variety of anti-apartheid activists inside of South Africa.  In addition, he oversaw the demographic transformation of the African bishopric and facilitated the incorporation of African rituals into the Anglican Church in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. 

    Second, I am exploring South Africa’s apartheid-era emigration policy and its relationship to notions of citizenship and state formation, as well as the ways in which passports and other kinds of travel documents formed part of the oppressive apparatus of the successive National Party governments.

    Third, I am researching the transnational careers of seven influential South African medics who came to North Carolina in the 1950s and ‘60s to work at Duke and UNC, Chapel Hill. Primarily epidemiologists and family and community medicine doctors, this cohort adopted a "social medicine" approach. These pioneering doctors generally left South Africa when the National Party introduced apartheid in the late 1940s/1950s. Several ended up in North Carolina, where they had long and illustrious careers. I am interested in the ways in which these medics continued to explore the impact of social environment on health through epidemiological studies of North Carolina communities, as well as their efforts to establish health care facilities that harkened back to those they had created in South Africa.

  • Education

    • Ph.D., Yale University 1991
    • M.Phil., Yale University 1986
    • M.A., Yale University 1983
    • B.A. (hons), University of Witwatersrand (S. Africa) 1981
    • A.B., University of Witwatersrand (S. Africa) 1980
  • Awards and Honors

    • Arts&Sciences Council Committee on Faculty Research (ASC-CFR) Grant:2015-16. Duke University., 2015
    • Southern Jewish Historical Society Grant for an exhibition on Durham's Jewish History. Southern Jewish Historical Society., 2012
    • Council for International Exchange of Scholars Grant for "Fulbright Revisited". Council for International Exchange of Scholars., 2010
    • Duke Endowment Grant for "Fulbright Revisited". Duke Endowment., 2010
    • Institute for International Education Grant for "Fulbright Revisited". IIE., 2010
    • W.E.B. Du Bois Institute Fellow,. Harvard University (declined)., 2008
    • Social Science Research Institute Faculty Fellow. Duke University., 2007
    • John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Fellow. Duke University., 2005
    • Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Research in the United States. Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa., 1994
    • Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Fund Grant. Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, South Africa., 1989
    • John F. Enders Grant. Yale University., 1988
    • Albert J. Beveridge Grant. American Historical Association., 1987
    • Fulbright Fellowship 1985-1989. Institute for International Education., 1985
    • Alexander Bouchet Prize in African-American Graduate Studies. Yale University., 1983
  • Professional Activities

    • Service to the Profession
      • Editor. Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies. January 2016
      • Reviewed promotions/honors. National Research Foundation -- the major government research foundation in South Africa. 2012 - 2015
      • Manuscript Reviewer : University of Illinois Press. University of Illinois Press and Univesrity of California Press. 2010 - 2013
      • James A. Rawley Prize Committee Member and Chair. Organization of American Historians. May 2008 - May 2011
      • Associate Member, Editorial Collective. Radical History Review. 2000 - 2016
      • Reviewed articles. Journal of American History, Safundi, RHR, Journal of Southern African Studies; Kronos, Southern Cultures, Journal of Natal and Zulu History, Cultural Anthropology, and Journal of Appalachian Studies. 2000 - 2015
      • Member of the Editorial Collective. Radical History Review. 1988 - 2000
    • Presentation
      • "Fair Wages: A History of Getting Paid" . Interview by Edward Ayers. Back Story Radio. March 28, 2014
      • Roundtable, "Durham's Jewish Community in Transition". June 16, 2013
      • Panelist with Ebrahim Moosa (Religion Department, Duke University), "Jews and Muslim in Apartheid...and After". February 1, 2013
      • International Peace Work. Panel with David Shulman, (Hebrew University), David Gilmartin (NCSU), Nadia Yaqub (UNC-Chaple Hill), "Comparing Aparthied and Israel's Occupation of the West Bank.". October 1, 2012
      • American and South African Comparative History. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. 2011
      • Then and Now - Eight South African Photographers. Perkins Library, Duke University. April 1, 2008
      • Nelson Mandela: A Light So Powerful. American Tobacco Campus, Durham, North Carolina. January 2008
      • Social Medicine in South Africa and Abroad: the North Carolina Connection. Columbia University. May 2006
      • Changing Voices: Alternative Historical Perspectives in South Africa. Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University. February 2005
      • Boundaries of Dissent: The Battle Against Convict Labor in the Tennessee Coalfields. Feminist Women in History. April 2000
      • The Prism of a New South Rebellion: Political Economy, Indutrialization, and Criminal Justice in the Late Nineteenth-Century Tennessee. University of Miami. February 1996
      • History from South Africa: A Critical Review. Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies. Princeton University. December 1990
      • The Tennessee Coal Miners' Revolts, 1891-92: Convict Labor, Political Culture adn Southern Rural Industrialization. Harvard University. February 1989
      • The Convict Must Go! Tennesse Miners and the State 1891-92. Comparative Social History Seminar. Oxford University. May 1987
    • Service to the University
      • Representative for African and African American Studies. Arts & Sciences Council. 2014 - 2016
      • Graduate Liberal Studies Advisory Board. 2014 - 2016
      • Executive Committee, Center for Jewish Studies. 2014 - 2015
      • Co-chair with Charles Piot (Anthropology) and John Barlett (Medicine and Global Health). Africa Initiative. 2012 - 2016
      • Head. Fulbright Program. Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Publics. June 2008 - June 2013
      • Co-chair. Concilium on Southern Africa (COSA). 2006 - 2016
    • Outreach
      • Board Member. Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina. 2013 - 2016
      • Museum of Durham History (History Hub). History Advisory Committee. 2012 - 2016
      • Beth El Synagogue, the first 125 years. Exhibition Curator. 2012 - 2013
      • Nelson Mandela: A Light So Powerful. Exhibition Curator. American Tobacco Campus, Durham. January 2008 - May 2008
      • Spirit of Freedom: Drawings & Narratives from Nelson Mandela's Imprisonment on Robben Island. Exhibiton Curator. Durham Public Library. 2007
  • Selected Publications

  • Selected Grants

    • Fulbright Revisited- A Documentary 2009 - 2011
    • Social Medicine in South Africa and Abroad: The North Carolina Connection 2008 - 2009
    • No Exit? The Politics of South African Emigration Restrictions in Early Apartheid South Africa 2006 - 2008
    • Double Vision: A Journey into the South African Diaspora in North Carolina 2005 - 2005