Norrell, Robert J.

Dr. Robert J. Norrell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia. He holds the Bernadotte Schmitt Chair of Excellence at the University of Tennessee. His 2009 biography, Up from History: the Life of Booker T. Washington, was received nationally with acclaim. In 2005 he published The House I Live In: Race in the American Century. His Reaping the Whirlwind: The Civil Rights Movement in Tuskegee won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

Scholarly Analysis of Andrew Zimmerman’s Alabama in Africa, a Major Work in Transnational History: How Ideological Commitments Corrupt Understanding
2015 1-4955-0403-4
This multi-sited, transnational dissent from the widely acclaimed book, Alabama in Africa by Andrew Zimmerman challenges Zimmerman’s argument, evidence, and conclusions about the details and import of the Tuskegee Institute’s impact on the history of West Africa.

No study of transnational work has gained more attention than Andrew Zimmerman’s Alabama in Africa: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South. It instantly rose to broad influence in 2011, but Robert J. Norrell contends that Zimmerman is wrong on virtually all his major claims. Norrell insists that Alabama in Africa often relies on shallow or tendentious argument. An American black man, Zimmerman claims, is in large part responsible for the maltreatment of Africans in a German colony and therefore bears guilt for the brutality that Germans showed throughout Africa and that carried over to all their international relations afterward. The leading social scientists brought into Zimmerman’s story – Gustav von Schmoller, Max Weber, and Robert Park – are also extracted from their real circumstances and cast into contexts more of Zimmerman’s making than reflections of reality.