Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Eduardo Chibás: The Incorrigible Man of Cuban Politics

    Author:
    Ilan Ehrlich
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Alfonso Quiroz
    Abstract:

    There is ample evidence to suggest that Eduardo Chibás (1907-1951), despite never having been president, was of primary importance to Cuba's political system in the years 1940-1952. As a congressman, senator and presidential candidate who was also the island's most popular radio commentator, Chibás was afforded an excellent opportunity to alter government policy and shape public opinion. Specifically, Chibás denounced what he saw as the vices and inadequacies of Cuba's fledgling democracy, especially corruption in public office. By all accounts, Chibás was a man of unquestioned probity. Unlike his political rivals, who gained financially from their elected positions, Chibás' economic position declined - leading him to sell the family residence, built by his father, to pay for his 1948 presidential campaign. Chibás' participation in Cuba's 1933 revolution, which overthrew the dictatorial government of Gerardo Machado (1925-1933), and in the mass strikes of 1935, which opposed Fulgencio Batista's first military regime (1934-1940), enhanced his public stature and lent him further political credibility. Moreover, the scandal-plagued Auténtico administrations of Ramón Grau San Martín (1944-1948) and Carlos Prío Socorrás (1948-1952) fell far short of the Cuban public's expectations - helping to swell the ranks of Chibás followers. Through personal charisma and media savvy Chibás revived the prospect of efficient and transparent governance through a renewal of the nation's institutions led by his Ortodoxo party. These hopes were dashed suddenly when Chibás shot himself three times in the stomach during his broadcast of August 5, 1951. His death 11 days later deprived the island of its most admired politician. In the short term, Chibás' influence was felt in the fact that the two major candidates for the 1952 presidency were Roberto Agramonte (Chibás' ex vice presidential candidate), and Carlos Hevia - both of whom were honest, albeit un-charismatic, figures. Hevia was only the third most popular politician in his own (Auténtico) party according to opinion polls. His nomination thus owed a great deal to Chibas' strident attacks on malversation. On the other hand, the disappearance of Cuba's most popular and magnetic politician surely facilitated the military coup, headed by Fulgencio Batista, that took place a mere seven months after Chibás' suicide.

  • Jewish at the Front: The Experience of Jewish Officers in the German Army in World War I

    Author:
    David Fine
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Julia Sneeringer
    Abstract:

    The story I seek to tell argues for full Jewish integration in the army, acceptance of a particular Jewish identity but an amalgamation of that identity to being German. After the initial introductory chapter that explores historiographical and methodological questions, Chapter Two examines the experience of religion at the front. Jewish holidays offered an opportunity for Jewish soldiers to seek solace in their religion and comraderie with their fellow Jews. The Christian holidays posed a challenge in how to celebrate with their Christian comrades. Jewish soldiers were able to "read" the Christian symbolism of sacrifice as it was used at the front, although with careful distance. In Chapter Three I discuss the encounter of German Jewish soldiers with Eastern European Jews on the eastern front. Jewish soldiers responded to the Eastern Jews positively, negatively, or indifferently, but always with distance. The encounter often intensified their own Jewish identity, and yet the Eastern Jew remained as "Other," even if an ethnic "grandparent." In the final chapter, I discuss experiences of antisemitism--excluding the Judenzaehlung--and integration. Narrative anecdotal eveidence is mixed with quantitative evidence culled from the cemeteries, published sources and archival material in order to clarfiy the extent of Jewish integration in the German army. I find that Jewish soldiers found integration and that antisemitism was not a significant factor in their war experience. Theirs was a war where they found themselves as Jews, men, soldiers and Germans, fighting for a future that might have been.

  • Civilizing Settlers: Catholic Missionaries and the Colonial State in French Algeria, 1830-1914

    Author:
    Kyle Francis
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    David Troyansky
    Abstract:

    This dissertation argues that between 1830 and 1914, with increasing intensity over time, French Catholic missionaries sowed divisions among the European population of French Algeria. The French government initially welcomed missionaries to cater to religiously devout Spanish, Italian, and Maltese settlers in Algeria and to foster their loyalty to the colonial state. Missionaries, however, incited the professional jealousy and personal animosity of the territory's generally less devout French population, who saw Catholicism and missionaries as little different from Islam and the "fanatical" Muslim population. Throughout this period, missionaries thus occupied a liminal space in the racialized hierarchy of colonial rule. As such, their presence disrupted colonial taxonomies that positioned a "civilized" European population as superior to an "uncivilized" indigenous one. For their part, missionaries saw Algeria as a blank slate in which to create a Catholic society they perceived as increasingly foreclosed in a secularizing Europe. At the same time, in the extralegal space of Algeria, missionaries relied on seemingly "pre-modern" networks of privilege and patronage to win support. The stress caused by navigating these dense patronage networks in an increasingly hostile environment created discord among missionaries. On the most localized level of power, missionaries competed with each other to carve out their own niches of authority. Male missionaries competed to administer sacraments to female missionaries, while the latter sought to assert their own autonomy by procuring friendly spiritual advisors or secular authorities who would allow them the most individual latitude. In the end, these political ploys only undermined their efforts to spread the Catholic faith and to portray themselves as useful to government officials. Ultimately, this dissertation reveals that colonial officials of all types framed the need to govern the settler population as a crucial component of the larger goal of ruling over the conquered indigenous population. As such, it re-conceptualizes France's well-known civilizing mission as directed as much towards this settler population as towards the indigenous one. At the same time, in showing that colonial officials utterly failed in their attempt to mold a unified settler community, this dissertation further reveals the fragility of the bonds that supposedly held the colonial settlers together and the tenuous foundations of imperial rule in nineteenth-century French Algeria.

  • Transnational Mechanics: Automobility in Mexico, 1895-1950

    Author:
    John Freeman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Alfonso Quiroz
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the rise of a particular way of moving through space in the form of motorized travel, and its political, cultural, and economic implications in Mexico during the first half of the twentieth century. It begins by tracing the origins of automobile use during the later years of the Porfirian era (1876-1911), followed by its curious expansion in the midst of armed revolution, world war, and a period of rapid innovation in the US automotive industry during the 1910s. When the country slowly broke free from the grip of national upheaval at the onset of the 1920s, post-revolutionary state builders, foreign and domestic business interests, and consumers joined forces in order to solve a challenging crisis in communications that had been brought about by the destruction and growing inefficiency of the nation's expansive but unevenly distributed railway system and network of urban tramways. Over the quarter century between the end of the Mexican Revolution and conclusion of the Second World War, as roads expanded from cities through the combined and at times competing actions of public and private interests, and automobiles flowed over the border from the United States, Mexican citizens became increasingly dependent on cars, buses, trucks, and gasoline for everything from getting around and between urban areas and maintaining the food supply of cities to leisure tourism. By mid-century, and through the forces of consumer preference, technological innovation, the pursuit of profit by automotive industry interests, and the promotion of motoring by a government intent on hastening the modernization of Mexican citizens and the domestic economy, the character of space and mobility had been fundamentally altered. More than half of the country's passengers and as much cargo as that hauled on the railway were being shuttled around the nation in motorized machines, while foreign and domestic automobile tourism had become a major industry. During the following decades, the Mexican state would seek to consolidate this transformation by aiding in the establishment of an expansive national automobile industry, continuing the costly construction of roads, and subsidizing gasoline for the Mexican consumer.

  • The Cycling City: Bicycles and the Transformation of Urban America

    Author:
    Evan Friss
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    David Nasaw
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the rise and fall of urban cycling in the 1890s. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, bicycles invaded American cities. Millions of cyclists reveled in the utilitarian and recreational uses of the machine, pedaling to work, exercising their bodies, and escaping the chaos of the city. In the process, cyclists and a broad group of city reformers, politicians, and engineers redrew the blueprints of the American city. They imagined, and actually began to build, a city in which smooth asphalt stretched across the entire metropolis, specially designed bicycle paths and roads promoted and facilitated bicycle transportation, and traffic regulations accounted for the rising number of cyclists and the complications that they added to the urban network. Likewise, doctors dreamed of a cycling city defined by the improved health of its citizens; sanitarians of an environment devoid of horses, filth, and disease; women of a completely accessible city. Indeed, as a practically noiseless, non-polluting, health-inducing, liberating, and private vehicle, the bicycle offered the promise of a revitalized, healthful, clean, and moral urban environment. In short, it offered the chance to make the modern city more livable. As the first private vehicle affordable to the masses, bicycles began to satisfy an established desire for a private transportation option as urban Americans celebrated mobility, independence, and flexibility. As cycling became democratized, a coalition of cyclists and their allies coalesced into a powerful group that influenced the city-building process. To a startling degree, they succeeded in implementing "bicycle-friendly" planning techniques, incorporating bicycle paths, bicycle valets, and laws favorable to cyclists. At this moment in history, American cities were the leaders in accommodating urban cycling. Although cycling in European cities would persist far longer than in the United States, American cities had laid the path toward a future in which cycling would remain a critical component of the urban transportation network. Yet suddenly, by the turn-of-the-century, the popularity of cycling in the United States dropped dramatically. That Americans developed an unrivaled taste for automobiles and that city planners would follow suit was not a foregone conclusion. In all, bicycles reshaped both the physical design of American cities and the lives of their inhabitants. Although its lifespan was brief, the bicycle was a transformative instrument.

  • Rufus King and the History of Reading: The Use of Print in the Early American Republic

    Author:
    David Gary
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Martin Burke
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the reading history, book collecting, and the use of print by the early American politician and diplomat Rufus King. Over the course of his life, King collected a vast library of books, pamphlets, and maps, and deployed print as a political weapon over his forty-year public career. He read widely in history, philosophy, and law, but did not read as an intellectual trying to answer abstract questions; he read purposively in a lawyerly fashion to solve problems or construct political arguments. King was a pragmatic reader who appropriated texts for specific political intentions. Evidence of this appropriation can be found in the marginalia in his personal library, commonplace notebooks, and scrap notes in his archive. It is the argument of this dissertation that the private act of reading was often the first step in the political process and had public consequences. As a well-read Enlightenment figure who was an efficient organizer of information, it is essential to understand the management of his reading in order to grasp his Federalist politics. An analysis of King's reading history opens up new understandings of his politics and demonstrates he had an overarching political program designed to promote the legitimacy of the new American nation among the older nations of the world. This dissertation focuses on the step before the emergence of national identity, the struggle to be accepted as a nation by the rest of the world. Several episodes in King's political career confirm his desire to acquire and defend national legitimacy, including his defense of the Jay Treaty (1795-1796), his diplomacy in Great Britain during the Napoleonic Wars (1796-1803), his promotion of free trade and reciprocity after the War of 1812, and his anti-slavery speeches during the Missouri Controversy (1819-1821). In all, private reading defined the way King viewed the world and played a prominent role in his public life. It allowed him to build his own identity and demonstrates a larger political project that previous work on King has not focused on.

  • REFUGEES AND RELIEF: THE AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE AND EUROPEAN JEWS IN CUBA AND SHANGHAI 1938-1943

    Author:
    Zhava Glaser
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Dagmar Herzog
    Abstract:

    Traditionally, pre-modern Jewish communities sensed an obligation to bind together to provide aid to Jews who found themselves in catastrophic situations; however, with the advent of modernity and the dissolution of Jewish communal authority, the fragmentation of Jewish communities, and the unprecedented stresses of the Holocaust, communal dynamics grew far more complex. The Jews of Cuba and Shanghai were two small and relatively remote communities overwhelmed by Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. At their request, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee stepped in and provided both the funding and leadership that both of these locations so desperately needed. The Jewish communities of Cuba and Shanghai provide an enlightening case study in Jewish communal dynamics in a time of catastrophe. The unrestrained menace of the Holocaust, rather than bringing these Jewish communities together to provide aid to those fleeing the Nazi terror, further fractured tenuous inter- and intra-communal relationships. Differences in national origin, religious observance, class, age and political views became more pronounced as communities fragmented, making it more difficult to provide the aid that was desperately needed. Yet in spite of their differences, the Jews who sought refuge in these remote locations managed eventually to create transitory communities united by thriving cultural, educational and literary pursuits. It is this complexity in Jewish communal interactions in Cuba and Shanghai during the Holocaust that will be explored in this study.

  • The new Star of 1572 and the Ascendancy of the Mathematical over the Causal Epistemology of Natural Philosophy

    Author:
    Douglas Godley
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Joseph Dauben
    Abstract:

    Abstract The New Star of 1572 and the Ascendancy of the Mathematical over the Causal Epistemology of Natural Philosophy By Douglas Godley Advisor: Professor Joseph Dauben The arrival of the new star of 1572, the first nova recorded in the western canon of natural philosophy startled and challenged the scientific community of the age. As they worked to observe and to understand the nature of this new star, astronomers across Europe quickly discovered that the traditional intellectual tools that they had come to respect and rely upon when observing the heavens were by and large useless in helping them to gather data, and thus to come to conclusions about the star's location, its physical nature and its meaning. In the records that contemporaries have left, modern readers may see how the nova's observers quickly adapted new tools and revised old theories in an effort develop satisfying answers to the questions the nova's arrival forced them to ask. The literary records and physical artifacts of the star's fourteen month long visit also reveal the extent to which natural philosophers had begun to distrust and even to jettison the fundamental tenets of the millennia old epistemologies that had guided their basic beliefs in the ways in which the cosmos was to be understood. In these reports and letters, readers will find technical accounts that will also help them to gauge how far those observers had moved towards the acceptance of an epistemology based upon the values of observation and mathematical analysis. Nova observers of the post Copernican half century, it will be seen, were flexible and independent thinkers, open to new theories and intellectual crosscurrents. They were also active gathers and disseminators of natural knowledge, as well as participants in the continent wide network of scientific investigators; responding to the age's onrush of new information, new technologies and experiences.

  • Tinturae Romanorum: Social and Cultural Constructions of Color-Terms in Roman Literature

    Author:
    Rachael Goldman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Jennifer Roberts
    Abstract:

    Literary sources in poetry, prose and inscriptions offer many examples of the use of color-terms in Latin texts, which carry connotations of value, both negative and positive, based on their associations with contemporary social groups. In this study I discuss several themes dealing with color-terms and their use in Latin literature which have not been explored in previous scholarship. I examine the debate on color-terms in Aulus Gellius' Attic Nights 2.26; the Roman dye industry and Roman clothing; class distinctions in Roman society, with particular emphasis on the freedman; color-terms as applied to physiognomic principles in descriptions of people and ethnic groups; and a special category of color-terms which cover multiple colors, such as versicolor and bicolor. By exploring the use of color-terms in these cultural contexts, we may gain a deeper understanding of the Roman mind.

  • The Temptation of Saints in Latin Narrative: England, France, and the Low Countries, 1100-1230

    Author:
    Adina Goldstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Head
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines a series of twelfth- and early thirteenth-century narratives in which holy men and women are tempted and tormented by what they and the shapers and readers of their life stories understood to be the devil. By analyzing the social and cultural conditions that brought about the creation of particular relationships between saints and the devil, it looks beyond the hagiographic topos of the saint defeating the "ancient enemy" in the "desert" to the particulars of the "desert" for each holy person. These episodes can reveal aspects of medieval religious life that may otherwise be ignored within the set pattern of a saint's life (conversion, temptation, victory over the devil). By replacing "the devil" with the concept of struggle or crisis, the temptation stories become charged moments in a life when new relationships are formed and old relationships changed-- points at which the status quo is threatened. Several models of how this works emerge. The hagiographer may focus on an individual's spiritual development through his relationship with the devil. In these vitae, the inner life of the saint is critical and the devil will build up his attacks as internal torments which include the sins of doubt and despair. In another model, the hagiographer focuses on the individual holy person who leads a community. In these cases, the internal spiritual development of the saint is less important than the stability of his public role and responsibilities to his community. Some vitae concentrate on the saint's struggle to enter the religious life. In others, the entry appears seamless and difficulties (almost, but not always, associated with the devil) emerge well after the conversion. In each of these cases, the role of the devil in the vita reflects a larger story in which social background, age, gender, and choice of religious lifestyle are critical.