New Faculty Member at the College of William and Mary Honored by the Society of American Historians

Brianna Nofil, an assistant professor of history at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, was awarded the 61st annual Allan Nevins Prize by the Society of American Historians. The Allan Nevins Prize, named for the society’s founder, is awarded annually to a doctoral dissertation on an American subject.

Dr. Nofil was recognized for her dissertation, “Detention Power: Jails, Camps, and the Origins of Immigrant Incarceration, 1900-2002.” The society commended Dr. Nofil’s dissertation for “its depth and breadth of research, including work in more than 90 local newspapers, its chronological and geographical range and the moral urgency of its prose.”

Dr. Nofil’s research documents the long history of jailing immigrants and asylum seekers in the United States. It shows that since the turn of the 20th century, the immigration service relied on county jails and collaborations with sheriffs and local police in order to facilitate deportations and border policing. “My research shows the deep roots of these debates around the ethics, politics and economics of local collaboration in immigration policing, and the ways this system has left migrants highly vulnerable to neglect and abuse,” Dr. Nofl said.

“I was thrilled to receive the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians,” said Dr. Nofil. “It’s great to hear people appreciate your work, but it also feels like important recognition that the stories and histories of migrant detainees are a significant part of American history.”

Dr. Nofil earned a bachelor’s degree in history and public policy studies from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University.

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