New focus on history reaffirms importance of field, supports early and midcareer researchers and practitioners.
The Dan David Prize was awarded to a diverse cohort of historians and researchers from around the world on May 11, at a multimedia ceremony during Tel Aviv University’s Board of Governors meeting.
The Prize, which for the first time in its 20 year history focuses exclusively on the historical disciplines, is awarded to early and midcareer researchers and practitioners who explore and study the human past in bold and creative ways. Totaling $3 million, it is the world’s largest history prize. Each winner receives $300,000 to further their research and work. Ten percent of the Prize purse is dedicated to scholarships for outstanding postdoctoral researchers in fields that study the past.
The 2022 winners are:
- Mirjam Brusius, a cultural historian who studies visual and material culture in global and colonial contexts.
- Bartow Elmore, an environmental historian who uses everyday products—from sodas to seeds—to demonstrate how large multinational firms have reshaped global ecosystems.
- Tyrone Freeman, a historian of philanthropy who researches African-American charitable giving and activism.
- Verena Krebs, a cultural historian who draws on material culture and art, alongside written sources, to uncover the complex relationship between Ethiopia and Western Christendom.
- Efthymia Nikita, an osteoarchaeologist who uses a wide range of innovative methods to unlock what human skeletal remains reveal about the health, diets and mobility of ancient peoples.
- Nana Oforiatta Ayim, a curator, writer, filmmaker and public historian whose work recenters African narratives, institutions and cultural expressions in telling the past.
- Kristina Richardson, a social and cultural historian of the medieval Islamic world.
- Natalia Romik, a public historian, architect and curator whose work focuses on Jewish memory and commemoration of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, especially Poland and Ukraine.
- Kimberly Welch, a historian who uses endangered local legal archives from the antebellum American South to explore lawsuits brought by free and enslaved Black people.
During the ceremony, Ariel David, Dan David Foundation Board Member and son of the Prize founder, spoke of the decision to refocus the prize on history. We wanted to “inject a new purpose into the Prize in an area which is increasingly underfunded and under attack,” he said. “It is clear that our history is a fundamental part of our identity and we cannot comprehend….the present without the past.”
He added, “I believe the winners perfectly reflect the values of the new Prize.”
TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat echoed the sentiments, addressing the audience: “In the face of dwindling investment and enrollment in the humanities worldwide, the Dan David Foundation and TAU are reaffirming the humanities’ value together with its centrality to the entire spectrum of research.”
“The study of history…teaches about the complexity of human nature,” said Kimberly Welch, speaking on behalf of all the winners. She thanked the Dan David Foundation for the prize, which “recognizes the wider scholarly communities we are part of” and the importance of the field.
Tamar Ish Shalom, a leading Israeli journalist and TAU alumna, moderated the ceremony, which included dynamic musical performances.
The Prize, headquartered at Tel Aviv University and endowed by the Dan David Foundation, was established in 2001 by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan David to celebrate and encourage achievement in the sciences and humanities.
Featured image: Dan David Prize Winners 2022, from left: Kimberly Welch, Tyronne Freeman, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Verena Krebs, Efthymia Nikita, Mirjam Brusius, Natalia Romik, Verena Krebs and Bartow Elmore. Credit: Guy Yehieli