Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD: SMALLPOX VACCINATION AND THE POLITICS OF PUBLIC HEALTH IN CUBA

    Author:
    Stephanie Gonzalez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Herman Bennett
    Abstract:

    This dissertation tracks the introduction and development of smallpox vaccination in colonial Cuba from the early nineteenth century to the American occupation of 1898. Native (creole) medical practitioners utilized smallpox vaccination as an instrument for securing status as professionals and conceptualizing new identities in a colonial slave society. The smallpox vaccination program allowed licensed practitioners to create a medical monopoly, foster scientific standards and cultivate a medical ethic. Creole vaccinators initially identified with a colonial state that protected their professional interests as necessary for the maintenance of Cuba's slave-based, agro-industrial sugar complex. By the end of the nineteenth century however, professional divestment and ethnic strife convinced fledgling medical professionals to mobilize their creole, scientific identities against Spanish colonial rule.

  • In the Shade of Tocqueville

    Author:
    Sheryl Gordon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Richard Wolin
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the reception of Alexis de Tocqueville by American and European intellectuals who worked and lived in America during the 1940s and 1950s. The intellectuals featured in the dissertation include David Riesman, Louis Hartz, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss. I analyze their personal correspondence and seminal scholarly works, each of which has helped promote different images of Tocqueville. Re-evaluating the Tocquevillean aspects of these influential works, such as The Lonely Crowd, The Liberal Tradition in America, Origins of Totalitarianism, and Natural Right and History, sheds new light on the authors' true understanding of Tocqueville and deep appreciation of his ideas. I also examine the use of Tocqueville by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Council Against Communist Aggression, and F.A. Hayek to understand how Tocqueville became the anti-Marx during the fifties. I argue that Tocqueville's ideas played an important role in shaping the thoughts and views of all of these intellectuals during this important period after the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War. Concerned with the flaws of a democratic society that promoted equality and liberty, they found in Tocqueville the ways to fix them, and, ultimately, hope.

  • Disease, Empire and Modernity in the Caribbean: Tuberculosis in Cuba, 1899-1909

    Author:
    John Gutierrez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Laird Bergad
    Abstract:

    This dissertation focuses on the anti-tuberculosis movement in Cuba between 1899 and 1909 and the ways in which the struggle against this deadly disease highlighted complex issues of sovereignty, modernity and public health on the island. Among infectious diseases, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in Cuba during these years and it affected every sector of Cuban society without regard to race, gender or national origin. The disease was found all over the island from the urban slums of Havana and Santiago de Cuba to the tobacco factories of Pinar del Rio. Debates about its treatment were common in Cuban and U.S. medical circles and, in fits and starts there were attempts to control its spread throughout the island, most especially, in Havana. Yet, despite the impact that tuberculosis had on Cuban society, there have been few efforts to analyze the ways in which Cuban and U.S. authorities on the island contended with the disease during the first decade of the twentieth century. This dissertation addresses this void in the literature by placing tuberculosis within three broad contexts: the history of U.S.-Cuban relations, the history of public health in Latin America, and the history of tuberculosis control movements in the Americas. In particular, the dissertation examines the ways in which tuberculosis served as a site of collaboration and contestation between U.S. and Cuban government and public health officials, the reasons why the anti-tuberculosis movement was overshadowed by efforts to control the spread of yellow fever and an examination of the Cuban organizations created to combat the disease. Additionally, this dissertation examines how the battle against tuberculosis became an important part of Cuban attempts to present their young nation as a modern and progressive republic.

  • "THE LAST OF THE GREAT BOHEMIANS": FILM POETRY, MYTH, AND SEXUALITY IN GREENWICH VILLAGE AND THE ATLANTIC, 1930-1975

    Author:
    Thomas Hafer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freeman
    Abstract:

    In Greenwich Village, a final generation of bohemians contested the rise and trajectory of gay liberation. During the 1930s, this generation blended modernist poetry and sexuality to develop a new manifestation of bohemia. In the postwar period, they transformed modern poetry into the new artistic medium of film that was critical to shaping postwar American art and culture. This wave of bohemia was built on certain modernist principles, including a universalist understanding of sexuality and identity that was different from, and incompatible with, the growth of identity politics in the 1960s. This dissertation argues that this was a last gasp of modernist bohemian ideology that fought against identity politics and the intellectual shift towards postmodernism, but lost and died out. This study creates a social and cultural map of this Atlantic bohemia in the decades prior to its clash with identity politics. At its center is the collaborative friendship of critical film theorist Parker Tyler and multi-media artist Charles Henri Ford. Tyler and Ford moved within artistic circles that included poets, painters, composers, avant-garde filmmakers, and writers, and they were tangential to the Surrealists, the Beats, the New American Cinema, and Andy Warhol's Factory. While this world was anchored in Greenwich Village, Ford, Tyler, and their friends collaborated with other groups around the city, including African-American artists in Harlem, Upper East Side benefactors, and the Latino community in the Lower East side. They also built an Atlantic network to other bohemians within the United States and as they traveled to other places and communities throughout Europe, Latin America, and North Africa. They were able to use these connections to further their art and defend their world against social and cultural changes. Scholarship has often sought to trace Postmodernism from the 1970s back in the Modernist past. This project intervenes in that discourse by showing that bohemians were committed to Modernism into the 1970s and contested that intellectual shift. Their bohemian conception of identity and sexuality and the group's resistance to gay liberation also challenge the prevailing gay history narrative that focuses on a politicized gay identity in the post-Stonewall era.

  • Mothers Raise the Army: Women's Politics, Popular Culture, and the Great War in America, 1914-1941

    Author:
    Katherine Hallgren
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    David Nasaw
    Abstract:

    In April 1917, after America's declaration of war on Germany, pro-war women began to lobby Congress to pass a military draft. Presenting themselves as true mothers of the nation, these women described their sons as patriotic, naturally drawn to military service in wartime. They were attempting to combat two groups: the maternal pacifists who argued that women should oppose war, and the immigrants they feared would not enlist. Even after Congress passed conscription, the heroism of mothers of soldiers and sailors captured the imaginations of pro-war artists. Sheet music, short stories, journalism and film praised mothers willing to support their sons' enlistment. The nation's largest and most influential women's voluntary associations supported the war. Claiming to act as mothers to the nation, officers and members pressed for suffrage and morals reforms. African Americans used patriotic motherhood to remind whites of the history of black sacrifice for the nation. But while it could be used for a variety of causes, patriotic motherhood was an essentialist, conservative vision of a woman's role. As clubwomen adopted the role of mother to the nation's soldiers, they pushed for anti-prostitution measures that hurt working-class women and women of color. Clubwomen and reformers ignored their own studies showing that women engaged in prostitution because of poverty, not moral weakness. Their intense focus on the nation's soldier “boys” helped blind them to the needs of its daughters. After the war, organizations for mothers of world war servicemen kept ideals of patriotic motherhood alive. They took part in commemorations and holiday rituals and enjoyed the status of national heroines. Starting in the early 1920s, organizations such as the American War Mothers joined antiradical causes and pursued a politics that linked a strong military defense system with nativism and antiradicalism. The mothers appeared above the political fray until in the 1930s opponents exposed their racist practices, and a new student antiwar movement attacked patriotic motherhood as a perversion of a mother's love. Debates over the Second World War exploded the patriotic motherhood of the Great War generation but did not end Americans' fascination with mothers of soldiers.

  • The Heart of the Diaspora: Jews and the Algerian War

    Author:
    Jessica Hammerman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Dagmar Herzog
    Abstract:

    This thesis examines the ideas, politics, culture, and memories of French-Jewish individuals during the Algerian War for Independence between 1954 and 1962. By tracing the involvement of a leadership organization, the Committee for Jewish Algerian Social Studies (CJAES), this dissertation argues that over the course of the war, Jews--who were indigenous to Algeria--became more integrated into the Christian settler community. An analysis of Algerian-Jewish perspectives complicates the picture of late-colonial Algeria. As intermediaries between France and Algeria, the Jews' identity determined who would be French and who would be Algerian. Initially, Jewish leaders stood by as they watched the violence unfold. When the war inevitably began to encroach upon Jewish neighborhoods, leaders worried about a resurgence of fascistic violence from European circles. Late 1956 was a significant turning point. In the Soummam Appeal of October 1956, the FLN invited the Jews to become Algerian fighters; the CJAES declined in the name of neutrality. News of the Suez Crisis (December 1956) also impacted Algerian identities, further alienating Muslims from Jews as Middle Eastern politics migrated to Algeria. In the context of the horrendous violence of the following two years, CJAES leaders welcomed President Charles de Gaulle in May 1958, in a hope that he could pacify the region. It became apparent that De Gaulle did not accept that Jews were like other French citizens; nor did he see a future for France's presence in Algeria. In the final years of the war, Jewish leaders let go of the hope that they could remain in French-ruled, multicultural Algeria. When the vast majority of Algerian Jews immigrated to the French mainland in 1962, Jews had become Pieds Noirs, blending into the formerly hostile European settler population.

  • Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution? Harlem's Public Schools, 1914-1954

    Author:
    Thomas Harbison
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kessner
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines how school administrators, teachers, parents, and local activists attempted to improve public schools in Central Harlem between World War I and the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. It reveals that animosity and distrust between parents, teachers, and the school administration, which peaked in New York City during the 1960s with mass boycotts and teacher strikes, had been growing for decades. During the 1920s, as the Great Migration filled Harlem schools with working-class African Americans from the South, New York City school administrators identified a need for an expanded school program to meet the needs of their students. This included the application of a host of Progressive Era initiatives, including health services, vocational training, and character education. At first, parents and concerned community members tacitly supported this approach. Yet, by the 1930s, parents and local civil rights activists--including some teachers--diverged from administrators in their understanding of the problems facing African American students. They accused the administration of racial discrimination based on stark inequalities in school conditions exposed by a series of incidents and investigative studies. Organizing in various ad-hoc parent-community groups, these women and men blamed the system's special treatment of black students for exacerbating rather than correcting inequality. Community-school relations further eroded when school administrators dealt with the second wave of the Great Migration beginning during World War II in a manner strikingly similar to the first. By 1954, the administration had established a pattern of adding extra programs to Harlem schools, while doing little to address community concerns about segregation and school inequality.

  • Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: The Artist and His Politics

    Author:
    Ernest Ialongo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Marta Petrusewicz
    Abstract:

    Abstract FILIPPO TOMMASO MARINETTI: THE ARTIST AND HIS POLITICS by Ernest Ialongo Adviser: Professor Marta Petrusewicz Much of the existing interpretations of Marinetti's political activities and views tend to divide a radical 'heroic' period up to 1920 from the less palatable period thereafter under the Fascist regime. Additionally, research on Marinetti's activities on behalf of the Fascist regime is not as thorough as his political activities before and immediately after the Great War. Consequently, a comprehensive narrative and interpretation of Marinetti's political views and activities throughout his political life--1909-1944--is lacking. My goal in this dissertation is to provide an interpretive framework that encompasses the whole of Marinetti's politics, and seeks to explain how the supposedly radical Marinetti did in fact become one of the leading members of a reactionary Fascist regime. My thesis is that Marinetti's politics were made up of two fundamentally contradictory sets of goals, and throughout his life he sought to bring these two goals together into a workable politics. He sought to advance individual liberties in modern society, but he also desired national greatness, which entailed a certain level of collective order and unity that perforce required limits on individual liberties. This attempt to achieve both liberty and order manifested itself in a series of radical and nationalist political objectives which always sounded reconcilable in the abstract, but never worked out in practice. When faced with the urgency of political reality, when Marinetti had to choose between his radical and nationalist goals, he invariably chose the latter. Thus, I argue that there was no split between the supposedly radical Marinetti of the early years (1909-1920) and the Marinetti of the Fascist era. Politically, the latter was the logical development of the former.

  • Reorienting American Liberal Judaism for the Twentieth Century: Stephen S. Wise and the Early Years of the Jewish Institute of Religion

    Author:
    Shirley Idelson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Robert Seltzer
    Abstract:

    This study explores how Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and supporters from the Free Synagogue and elsewhere sought to reorient American liberal Judaism by establishing the Jewish Institute of Religion (JIR) in the early 1920s. They believed the leaders of the Reform movement at that time were reluctant to relinquish an outmoded approach that had lost relevance in light of a new demographic reality whereby over a million Eastern European Jews now living in New York were becoming the dominant presence in American Jewish life. The JIR founders attributed this to Reform's having become insular, unresponsive to pressing social issues, overly concerned with respectability, and spiritually lifeless. Wise and his circle advanced a vision for liberal Judaism they considered to be more modern and American, more liberal and more deeply Jewish. While they attempted to advance their vision for liberal Judaism on many fronts, they believed that critical to the task was creating a New York-based scholarly center capable of training a new kind of rabbi. This work describes the key individuals in addition to Wise who created the Institute, the international scholars who formed the first faculty, and the debates that ensued and obstacles encountered as the institution took shape. From the outset, the founders determined that JIR would differ from existing schools in significant ways. For example, prioritizing the "oneness of Israel," JIR would include faculty and students representing a broad spectrum of belief, from Orthodox to non-Orthodox, and Zionist to non-Zionist. All students would enter with a bachelor's degree, and in addition to studying traditional fields like Bible, history and Talmud, they would study modern Hebrew, social service and contemporary trends in Jewish education. In addition, through fieldwork, students would utilize the metropolitan area as a laboratory for learning how to serve American Jewry as inspiring, socially-engaged rabbis. With these and other innovations, Wise and the founders believed JIR would point twentieth-century liberal Judaism in new directions. Though they did not succeed in all they set out to achieve, many aspects of the reorientation of American Jewish religious life they pursued remain with us today.

  • Books Across Borders and Between Libraries: UNESCO and the Politics of Postwar Cultural Reconstruction, 1945-1951

    Author:
    Miriam Intrator
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Dagmar Herzog
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a history of the emotional, political and technical power of libraries and books in the immediate post-World War II moment, examined through the lens of the reconstruction and rehabilitation activities undertaken by the Libraries Section of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. For UNESCO's founders, since libraries, books and information had been targets of abuse and misuse under fascism, their renewal had to be an area of primary concern in the postwar. In that endeavor UNESCO faced, on the one hand, urgent demand for both replacement and new, up-to-date sources of information and publications, and on the other hand, issues of censorship, ownership and rights over confiscated, stolen and other displaced materials. National and international priorities regarding book distribution and the renewal and expansion of libraries intersected with early Cold War intergovernmental conflicts within the transnational forum of UNESCO; its leadership, staff and collaborators sought to achieve a balance between the organization's universalist mission and the aims of its individual member states. Within that rubric this research examines three themes. First, practical programs to provide libraries with the means to acquire books they wanted and needed; second, proposed programs in which UNESCO would play a mediating role in the delicate, political and often emotional debates over the fate of confiscated and displaced libraries and books; and third, UNESCO's contribution to formulating notions of cultural rights as human rights within the context of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. By honing in on the key actors, immediate aims and long-term goals of the Libraries Section, this study provides nuanced insight into the complexities and specificities of UNESCO's areas of interest, action and inaction during the early postwar, post-Holocaust, Cold War years. Examination of the unprecedented and increasingly global level of transnational, intergovernmental and inter-organizational networking initiated and facilitated by UNESCO for the library world illuminates how international relations and national politics both helped and hindered UNESCO's efforts, and identifies the short- and long-term impact on library and book culture, focusing in particular on the examples of France, Poland, and surviving Jewish Europe.