Editor's Note, Princeton Historical Review, Summer 2024

Dear reader,

It is my pleasure to present the second and ultimate issue of the 2024 volume of the Princeton Historical Review. This issue represents a major step forward for our journal for a few reasons. First, it marks a return to biannual publishing after a five-year hiatus. In total, we have showcased the work of seven undergraduate scholars in this volume, tying the record for the most in our history. Second, this issue reflects the work of our first-ever managing editors, Seiyoung Jang ’25 and Leighton Symons ’25. Introducing this new position has brought added rigor and thoroughness to our editing process, making for a more polished review. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, for the very first time, PHR is featuring work by a student who does not attend Princeton. Our publication’s abiding aim is to offer a platform for the best in undergraduate historical scholarship, especially that which involves perspectives and methodologies not often encountered in Princeton courses. We believe this can best be accomplished by venturing outside the familiar walls of Dickinson Hall. After piloting a modest outreach program in the spring, we received paper submissions from more than fifty young historians at some ten colleges and universities across the United States. We hope that this is the beginning of a fruitful, cross-institutional dialogue that will promote a more diverse and intellectually challenging scholarly community.

As usual, no formal theme guides this issue, but the articles herein do have much in common. In their content, each piece relates to the experiences of the downtrodden and dispossessed, albeit across dramatically different geographies and time periods. From Michael Salama in “Poisoning the Well,” we learn how New York City’s Collect Pond, often relegated to an “expositional role” in scholarly treatments of the metropolis, was in fact at the heart of the city’s long  history of class disparity: what began as a vital natural resource for the Lenape people was, after European settlement, transformed by turns into a pollution-ridden industrial wasteland, a convenient excuse for the financial predations of Aaron Burr, and, after being desiccated at the start of the nineteenth century, the heart of the impoverished, largely immigrant Five Points neighborhood. Isis Arevalo’s “Negotiating (Un)Conditional Freedom” presents a sweeping and beautifully nuanced picture of the methods of resistance used by enslaved people in Colombia from its earliest colonial days through to abolition in 1852. Arevalo encourages us to conceive not of a universal desire for “freedom,” but rather for a varied and contextually determined notion of “liberation” through “any means necessary”: depending on their situation, the enslaved might form maroons, partner with Indigenous neighbors, negotiate with masters, advocate for themselves through the legal system, or co-opt liberal ideology to achieve their ends. In terms familiar in the recent historiography of U.S. slavery,  Arevalo posits an “enslaved political consciousness” sustained by “networks of communication” stretching across time and place.

In Quién es el Puertorriqueño,” Isabelle Anderson traces the development of nationalist sentiment in Puerto Rico from that of Creoles living under Spanish control to that of the influential Partido Nacionalista and Partido Popular Democratico in the twentieth century. Examining the rhetoric of these two parties’ founders, Pedro Albizu Campos and Luis Muñoz Marin, Anderson concludes that although the men had vastly different politics, especially around the tension between independence from and integration within U.S. domination, “island activists and politicians have continually emphasized that Puerto Rico contains a distinct culture deserving of preservation amid foreign influence and rule.” Last but not least, in “Turks, Trubar, and Tabori,” Martin M. Mastnak takes up a different expression of nationalism, namely that of Slovenian authors during the so-called “national awakening” of the nineteenth century. To do this, he takes us back to the Ottoman raids of Slovenia between 1408 and 1593, when Slovenian peasants, exposed to mass killing and enslavement, banded together to erect tabori, or church fortifications, to protect themselves. Through close readings of the work of Awakening poets such as Anton Aškerc and Josip Stritar, Mastnak concludes that nationalists overstated the extent of peasant agency by presenting tabori as “a national struggle of the Slovenian peasantry against the Turkish enemy.”

Each of these pieces offers a meticulously researched and compellingly written account of a group of people that in some respect bore the brunt of exploitation and empire. The  articles are worth reading for that reason alone; indeed, together, they reflect the concerns many students share about the world today. Moreover, Salama, Arevalo, Anderson, and Mastnak all employ innovative methodologies not often found in mainstream U.S. academic writing. First, the majority of the articles cite primary and secondary material written in languages other than English: Arevalo and Anderson use Spanish, while Mastnak translates sources from Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, and German. Moreover, each contributor moves beyond straightforward textual analysis in some way. Salama brings an understanding of hydrology that allows him to fill in gaps in the historical record by inferring the subterraneous behavior of Collect Pond; Arevalo and Anderson place political-scientific theory at the heart of their work (from James C. Scott and Benedict Anderson, respectively); and Mastnak brilliantly interprets the architecture of still-standing tabori. Finally, each author explicitly considers the long-term implications of their research and conclusions, even up to the present day. In doing so, they remind us why we study history.

Massive thanks to the editors of PHR and to the faculty and staff of the History Department, especially Jackie Wasneski and Judie Miller, for helping to make this issue possible. It has been an honor to lead the journal over the past year; I hope you’ll agree that the future is bright.

Read on!

Sam Bisno

Summer 2024 Vol. 9, Issue 2

Cover image courtesy of issue contributor Martin M. Mastnak.


Sam Bisno '24

Managing Editors

Seiyoung Jang '25
Leighton Symons '25


Angie Allen ’25
Isis Arevalo ’25
Michael Emperor ’25
Kayra Guven ’24
Sam Harshbarger ’24
Aidan Iacobucci ’25
Noah Maxwell ’24
Alice McGuinness ’24
Carly Mraz ’25
Allan Shen ’24
Julia Stern ’26
Shireen Waraich ’24
Rebecca Wu ’25
Julia Zhou ’24

Sponsored by

The Center for Collaborative History of the Princeton Department of History