History Faculty Profile: Trevor Getz

Friday, April 01, 2016
Over the years, University of Alaska Fairbanks filmmaker Len Kamerling has earned a reputation for examining Alaska Native peoples with dignity and insight. His film “The Drums of Winter,” was named to the National Film Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress in 2006.  But tonight, Kamerling premiers a new documentary set in Tanzania, East Africa. “Changa Revisited,” concerns a Maasai family coping with cultural disruption. Kamerling was drawn to the story by his co-producer and friend Peter Biella. Biella

Trevor Getz, professor of History, is the latest subject in a series of video profiles featuring faculty discussing their passions for teaching and research. He discusses his research surrounding gender and slavery in West Africa, including an award-winning graphic novel that has an official place in high-school and college classrooms across the country.

“My research informs my teaching, but my teaching also informs my research,” Getz says in the video. “I’ve written a number of books that were really answers to students’ questions asked in class.”

Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History (Oxford University Press), authored with Liz Clarke, is one of Getz’s most successful such efforts. It is based on an 1876 court transcript of a West African woman named Abina Mansah, who was wrongfully enslaved, then escaped to British-controlled territory and took her former master to court.

“It’s an intensely important document because it actually conveys the voice of a young, enslaved African woman who argues against the judge and the lawyers and everyone in the court cases, to what’s really important in this experience that she had,” Getz says.

Hannah Anderson directed the video. The College of Liberal & Creative Arts’ Communication Team produced it.

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Trevor Getz

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