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Historic photo of Ponce Hall circa 1960s

Sherry Johnson, Ph.D.

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Description of Research

Sherry Johnson is Professor of History at Florida International University in Miami. Her research interests are environmental history, social history, and the history of disasters contextualized within the theoretical framework that argues that Florida deserves to be recognized as an integral part of the Atlantic world and the greater Caribbean. She earned the Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of Florida in 1995, where she studied under some of the leading figures in the discipline. She also was research assistant for prominent Florida historian, Samuel Proctor, serving as editorial assistant on the Florida Historical Quarterly, and studied with other Florida scholars such as Michael Gannon, Kathleen Deagan, and Eugene Lyon. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Historical Society since 2008 and currently is its vice-president. She is also an alumni fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich, Germany.

Sherry’s first book, The Social Transformation of Eighteenth-Century Cuba, was published by the University Press of Florida in 2001, and her second monograph, Climate and Catastrophe in Cuba and the Atlantic World in the Age of Revolution (University of North Carolina Press, 2011) was the winner of the Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Prize for best book on Caribbean Studies awarded by the Caribbean Studies Association in May 2012. She is the co-editor with James G. Cusick of Jackson in Florida, 1814-1821: Forging His Legacy (2016) and The Voyages of Ponce de León: Scholarly Perspectives, 1513-2013 (2012) both published by Florida Historical Society Press. Sherry was the guest editor of a special issue on eighteenth-century Florida history 500 Years of Florida History: The Eighteenth Century in the Florida Historical Quarterly in winter 2015. Along with K. Lynn Stoner, she edited an issue on women and gender in Cuban history, Trespassing Historic Gender Boundaries in Cuba that appeared in Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos in 2003. She has also published articles in the William & Mary Quarterly, Environmental History, the Hispanic American Historical Review, Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos, the Florida Historical Quarterly, the Colonial Latin American Historical Review, and Forum: The Florida Humanities Council Magazine.

Sherry’s ongoing project “Climate Cycles and Historical Processes in the Atlantic World from Colonial Times through the Present,” is an interdisciplinary collaborative project involving scholars from international institutions who examine whether and to what extent historical “events” were caused by severe weather (drought, hurricanes, or freezes, e.g.). Another project is the publication of a ship’s log about a voyage aboard a United States schooner, the Porpoise, to Florida and Cuba kept from 1821-1822.  Researched and published with the generous support of a Historic St. Augustine Research Institute Research Fellowship, this journal offers vivid anecdotes about St. Augustine, Pensacola, the Gulf Coast and the island of Cuba during a period in Florida history that is virtually unstudied. Its publication is intended to coincide with the bicentennial of Florida’s transfer to US sovereignty in 2021. Other current projects include a sequel to her first book, The Betrayal of the Warrior Code and the Evolution of Independence Sentiment in Cuba, 1800-1825.  A new project, Jackson in Florida, 1814-1821: Rethinking his Legacy from Spanish Sources, is based on the realization that there is no study of Jackson’s two invasions of Florida in 1814 and 1818 written from the Spanish perspective. Finally, Rethinking the “Backward” Empire:  Science, Disease, and Public Health in Eighteenth Century Cuba is an ongoing study of how reforms in hospital administration, public sanitation, and disease management were extended to Florida, Cuba and the greater Caribbean after 1763.

In addition to being an Associate of HSARI, in 2010, Sherry was a fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society Fellowship, Deutsches Museum and Universität Ludwig-Maxmilians in Munich, Germany, which is among the most prestigious institutions for the study of environmental humanities. Her fellowship there directly contributed to the completion of her award-winning second book. Sherry has also earned the National Endowment for the Humanities Extending the Reach Research Grant; the Lydia Cabrera Award for Cuban Historical Studies from the Conference on Latin American History; a Historic St. Augustine Research Institute Research Fellowship (twice); a Library Company of Philadelphia, Program in Early American Economy and Society Research Fellowship; and a Library Travel Grant to Collections, Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida. Internal awards from FIU include the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation Award, from the Cuban Research Institute, FIU Foundation/Provost's Office Research Awards, and an Andrew P. Mellon Foundation Fellowship in Latin American Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. In 2010, she was named to FIU’s Top Scholars Program. Her dissertation won the Jay I. Kislak Foundation Award, Best Dissertation or Monograph in History or Anthropology, from the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in 1996.