Salem College assistant professor of history Dr. Daniel Prosterman’s first book, Defining Democracy: Electoral Reform and the Struggle for Power in New York City, will be published in November by Oxford University Press.
The book examines a little-known experiment in voting undertaken in New York City during the 1930s and 1940s to clarify our understanding of democracy's evolution in the United States and the world. In the midst of global crises concerning the purpose and power of government during the Great Depression, World War II, and early Cold War, New Yorkers debated the meaning of self-rule in the United States. In a series of campaigns over the expansion of voting rights in New York City, activists challenged the boundaries of who could be elected, what interests could be represented, and ultimately what policies could be implemented at the local level. The book presents a new conceptualization of the history of democracy in the United States, with a focus on urban politics as a site of democratic experimentation and vitality.
In conjunction with the upcoming publication, Prosterman has been invited to speak at three related conferences in the United States and Europe:
•"Moving Across Borders: Women's Organizations and Female Activists in the Aftermath of the First World War," sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (United Kingdom) and Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 26-28.
•"Contested Democracy: Contestation and Participation in the English-Speaking World: A Critical Evaluation," sponsored by the Institut du Monde Anglophone, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, September 20-22.
•"The Cosmopolitan Metropolis: The Sixth Biennial Urban History Association Conference," sponsored by the Urban History Association, New York City, October 26-28.
In addition to his duties as a history professor, Prosterman serves as director of the Salem Signature General Education program and the major in Race and Ethnicity Studies. He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Urban History Association. He will bring his research on the history of democracy to the classroom this fall in an interdisciplinary special topics course titled, “The Practice of Democracy.”