Horton Receives Fulbright to Teach in Amsterdam

Posted: May 13, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

As an American history professor, Lois Horton immensely enjoys living abroad, gaining a new perspective on her own country’s traditions and cultures. This fall, she will get a chance to live in the Netherlands as a Fulbright scholar in the American Studies program at the University of Amsterdam. As the Distinguished John Adams Chair in American History, Horton will teach African American history and the historical issues surrounding slavery and the antislavery movement.

While in Amsterdam, Horton will continue her research on presenting slavery in public places. She plans to travel, lecture on her work, and contact several colleagues she’s met at past international conferences and meetings. Her most important colleague during her stay in the Netherlands, however, will be her husband, James Horton. A history professor at George Washington University, James will be a Fulbright scholar at the University of Leiden, just a 30-minute train ride from where the couple will be living in Amsterdam.

“We’re very happy to be going together, and it will allow us to do more research on the projects we’ve been working on,” Horton says. The Hortons have cowritten several books on African American history and culture, and are currently editing Presenting Slavery, a book that discusses how slavery and the slave trade are portrayed in public places such as museums and memorials.

A case in point is a statue commemorating the slave trade that was recently constructed near the area where Horton will be teaching. Horton will examine the controversy that stirred the public while the statue was being planned and the different opinions over how this segment of the community’s history should be acknowledged.

“It is interesting to talk to people from different cultures and places who are experiencing the same kinds of issues and see what it is we have to gain from facing that history,” Horton says. “With something like slavery, it is not always a part of history that the community wants to talk about or remember.”

In the 1980s, the Hortons lived and taught in Germany for a year, and they still keep in touch with students there. A few have even come to the United States to visit the couple. Horton looks forward to teaching European students again.

“Soon, we will have students visiting us from all over the world!” Horton says with a laugh. “It’s really a great experience. It’s exciting to live in different countries because you see your own country with different eyes. It opens up all kinds of possibilities, both personally and in the way you work.”

The Fulbright program awards approximately 4,000 grants each year to American students, teachers, and scholars to study, teach, and conduct research around the world, and to foreign nationals to engage in similar activities in the United States. Individuals are selected based on academic and professional qualifications, in addition to their ability and willingness to share ideas and experience with people of diverse cultures. The U.S. Information Agency administers the program, and more than 40 foreign governments share in the funding of these exchanges.

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