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Urmila Jhaveri and Ned Bertz
Ned Bertz (right) with Urmila Jhaveri, who participated in the Tanzanian freedom struggle for independence

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa associate professor in the Department of History has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award. Beginning in fall 2021, Ned Bertz will utilize the highly competitive academic fellowship to conduct research on the project, “Decolonization and Transnational Politics in Tanzania from Liberation to Liberalization, 1945–1979.”

“I’m very excited to have a long stretch of fieldwork ahead and am proud to be representing the University of Hawaiʻi while abroad,” Bertz said. “It’s very nostalgic for me because two decades ago, as a graduate student, I received a Fulbright fellowship to research my PhD dissertation, which eventually was revised into a book.”

“This Fulbright Scholar Award is a wonderful recognition of Dr. Bertz and his path breaking research in the history of the Indian Ocean region,” said Shana Brown, UH history department chair. “Dr. Bertz’s work shows how a historical perspective is crucial to understand the economic and social processes we are all experiencing today. The history department is very proud of Dr. Bertz and his ongoing contributions to world and transnational history, one of the key areas of our program.”

Bertz hopes the nine-month fellowship will help shed light on how Tanzania attempted to balance its political ideologies with its international alliances amid great economic pressures as the age of decolonization unfolded. At the same time, he wants to study how Tanzania’s resident Indian population experienced this era by researching changing transoceanic trading experiences, pathways of mobility, and national and religious identities. Throughout his academic career, he has written extensively about the long and interconnected histories of East Africa and India.

His interest in both regions began while conducting overseas fieldwork and language study during graduate school. In 2015, UH Press published his book, Diaspora and Nation in the Indian Ocean: Transnational Histories of Race and Urban Space in Tanzania.

“It’s a very humbling and heartwarming feeling to be accepted by people while living outside the U.S., and I do everything I can do to give back and contribute to communities in East Africa and India, something which hopefully will feature significantly in my Fulbright time,” said Bertz.

Given the climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, he is approaching the international research fellowship with caution.

“As we all know, global vaccine distribution has been grossly unequal, and Tanzania has not participated actively in international health efforts to diminish the pandemic, something which hopefully is changing,” Bertz said.

Bertz has taught in UH Mānoa’s history department since 2006 and is a recipient of the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. The history department at the University of Dar es Salaam will host Bertz while he is in Tanzania. Although his main focus will be on conducting research, he plans to present at seminars and participate in academic activities held on the campus of the oldest public university in the country.

This research is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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