Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • A Race Against Time: Governing Femininity and Reproducing the Future in Revolutionary Iraq, 1945-63

    Author:
    Sara Pursley
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Beth Baron
    Abstract:

    This dissertation rethinks the Iraqi revolution of 1958 and the post-World War II era leading up to it through the lens of gender and family reform, in particular by examining the relation between such reforms and various conceptions of temporality, both secular and Islamic. Engaging critically with Lee Edelman's notion of "reproductive futurism" as a hegemonic political imaginary of modernity, I argue that projects to cultivate modern feminine domesticities in Iraq during this era were linked to larger depoliticizing and disciplinary mechanisms that sought to stabilize the political present in the name of an ever-receding economic future. Sexual difference and the fantasy of the child as the embodiment of the nation's future development were keys to this process. Gender and family reform efforts in this period were markedly different from earlier nationalist projects to cultivate feminine domesticity in the Middle East, shifts that were related to the expansion of public schooling to the lower classes; new understandings of pedagogy, psychology, and child development and new global knowledge networks through which such understandings traveled; ruptures in conceptions of historical time and generational time; the rise of the United States as a superpower; and the dawn of the Cold War and the "age of development" after 1945. Yet the family-reform efforts I examine were not instances of a universal and linear modernization process; they were shaped by, and often direct responses to, local forces of upheaval, including rural rebellions connected to the agrarian crisis and the widespread political mobilization and radicalization of youth in the postwar era. They also ran up against local modes of life and networks of solidarity, Islamic and otherwise, that were not organized according to the child-centered, future-directed, and present-freezing logic of family reform in the age of development.

  • Glory and Infamy: Making the Memory of Duke Alessandro de' Medici in Renaissance Florence

    Author:
    Tracy Robey
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Margaret King
    Abstract:

    Duke Alessandro de' Medici (1512-1537, r. 1531-1537) was the victim of a previously unknown and far-reaching conspiracy to condemn him in posthumous histories and erase him from the archives of Florence. This cultural manipulation cast Duke Alessandro for the past 500 years as a tyrant, murderer, and rapist of nuns. The case study of how later dukes, historians, and archivists defamed Alessandro de' Medici illustrates the ways people made and destroyed memory in sixteenth-century Florence. The first chapter outlines the negative statements made about Duke Alessandro in the major histories that discuss his reign. The second chapter explores the political affiliations of the contemporary authors who wrote the histories used in the first chapter. I show that the historians' opposition to Alessandro's rule during his lifetime influenced what they eventually wrote about the Duke in their histories--a fact overlooked by scholars, who tend to almost wholly rely on the histories. The third chapter outlines the neglected concept and practice of damnatio memoriae, or condemnation of memory, in the Renaissance. Using poems, paintings, and rumors, I demonstrate how unknown Florentines secretly marginalized the memory of Duke Alessandro using objects intended to commemorate him. The fourth chapter explores how Alessandro's successor, Duke Cosimo I de' Medici (1519-1574, r. 1537-1574), feuded with Alessandro during his life, and constructed the Florentine archives in such a way that Alessandro's reign is excluded from both the Medici family archives and Medici ducal archives. No corpus of archival documents exists that could correct the slander spread by the official historians. Anonymous citizens, politically-active historians, and later Medici Grand Dukes effectively obliterated all good memory of Duke Alessandro de' Medici within 100 years of his assassination.

  • The "Feminized" City: New York and Suffrage, 1870-1917

    Author:
    Lauren Santangelo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Kathleen McCarthy
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines suffragists' changing relationship to America's largest metropolis from 1870 to 1917. It analyzes how advocates of the ballot perceived women's place in the city, how they mobilized the diverse groups of women that Gotham attracted, and how they interacted with the city's private, commercial, and public spaces. The study demonstrates that while suffragists benefitted from Gotham's resources--its restaurants and hotels, its busy streets and feminized retail districts, its national publishing houses and nascent film industry--many activists also viewed the metropolis as an arena for violence and vice that endangered respectable women. Initially, these concerns prevented them from mobilizing the city's resources. In order to win the vote in New York State in 1917, suffrage advocates had to move from being intimidated by the metropolis to harnessing it for their ends. While other scholars have detailed the importance of changing arguments and new leadership in the woman's rights campaign, this dissertation documents how the physical environment, urban social networks, and changing visions of the city shaped a major segment of the suffrage movement. In the process, it ties women's political protest to urbanization and the urban experience, exploring the interaction between these phenomena across five decades and demonstrating that New York City was more than simply a stage on which women's activities took place. It was an integral player in the drama.

  • Revolutionary Debt: Attitudes of French Political Elites toward the Domestic Creditors of the State, 1787-1794

    Author:
    Raymond Schiller
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    David Troyansky
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the public debate surrounding the French national debt and the domestic creditors of the state during, and just prior to, the French Revolution. Focusing on stances expressed by a sample of the cahiers de doléances and by political leaders, it demonstrates how the debt and the creditors were among the chief concerns of revolutionaries from moderates to Jacobin radicals. Through a differential analysis of the cahiers, it shows that despite their often considerable differences on other matters, concerning the debt many - but not all - of the clergy, nobility and Third Estate were of a similarly protective opinion. I analyze the differences within, as well as between, the three orders relating to this issue. In part, the aim is to illuminate not only the role of the royal/national debt in this debate, but also that of its owners, the state creditors, as a crucial constituency embedded within most social groups of the Old Regime. Furthermore, underscoring both progressive and conservative stances among the privileged orders, the work contributes to historiography which examines their role in the Revolution. Finally, the work interprets the debt as a modern property type; the state creditors, as eighteenth-century capitalists; and it explicates their role in overthrowing the Old Regime in its entirety.

  • Internationalists! The Radical Party Challenges the Italian Left, 1963-1995

    Author:
    Noah Simmons
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Robert David Johnson
    Abstract:

    Marco Pannella and Emma Bonino's Italian Radical Party was a small but influential liberal, non-Marxist political movement committed to upholding individual liberties at home and abroad. During the Cold War, the Radicals held that militarism produced authoritarian welfare states and was at the basis of domestic and global injustice. Antimilitarist pacifism and civil disobedience underpinned their battles for citizen rights, including ones in support of conscientious objection or the legalization of divorce and abortion. Such stances signaled a challenge to Communist and Socialist control over the politics of the left, due to the tendency of both Marxist parties to seek accords with political Catholicism. Radicals rejected Italy's traditional coalition politics and sought to liberalize and simultaneously unify the left against the ruling Christian Democracy. They contrasted their libertarianism and issue-based politics with what they claimed was the tired statism and collectivism of the old left. In the seventies, Radicals interpreted the crisis of Keynesian economics as confirmation that the welfare state could no longer address human needs. They adopted aspects of neoliberalism that dovetailed with their longstanding hostility to welfare all'italiana. After the Cold War, Radicals endorsed military interventions conducted to uphold international law; ethnocide in Africa and Europe motivated a qualification of earlier Radical espousals of nonviolent resistance, revealing a form of juridical pacifism. In their garb as both domestic political group and transnational non-governmental organization, they contributed to the establishment of the International Criminal Court at The Hague instated to try war criminals. Over several decades, Radicals participated in a transformation of global political culture associated with the antiauthoritarian and anti-governmental revolts of the sixties, seventies and eighties. Their antipolitics pitted individuals, self-managed communities, and markets against a declaredly immoral state. Straddling the left-right divide, the Italian Radicals personified both new left and neoliberal dimensions of the antistatist surge of the last third of the twentieth century. Their exaltation of individual rights and negative freedom and their downgrading of economic rights and positive liberty partook in a historical process which has produced freer yet less equal societies.

  • Reviving Enlightenment in the Age of Nationalism: The Historical and Political Thought of Hans Kohn in America

    Author:
    Brian Smollett
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Robert Seltzer
    Abstract:

    This dissertation critically engages the thought of Hans Kohn (1891-1971). One of the most prominent theorists of nationalism in the twentieth century, Kohn has primarily been studied as an anti-statist Zionist thinker and as the originator of a Western-Civic/Eastern-Ethnic "dichotomy" of national development. This work takes a different approach by analyzing the matrix of tension between particularism and universalism in his mature, American thought. I argue that Kohn, especially in response to the crisis of fascism, used history to search for a balance within this perennial tension. His historical analyses, very much tied to his time and context, led him to believe that an ideal balance could be found in the spirit and values of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Kohn thus used his idea of Enlightenment as an "Archimedean point," upon which he tried to build a humanistic vision for a peaceful future in the context of a global "age of nationalism."

  • Imperial Diplomats: Exploitation, Reform, and the Role of the French Diplomatic Corps in Managing the Napoleonic Empire

    Author:
    Alexander Stavropoulos
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Helena Rosenblatt
    Abstract:

    "Imperial Diplomats: Exploitation, Reform, and the Role of the French Diplomatic Corps in the Napoleonic Empire, 1803-1813" explores, through the examples of two French ambassadors in the satellite states of Bavaria and Spain, how the French Diplomatic Corps used coercion and manipulation to govern the Napoleonic Empire from 1803 to 1813. Relying on the papers of their embassies, this dissertation delves into the role that the ambassadors assumed as the proconsuls of Napoleon's European empire, setting the parameters of the imperial relationship between Paris and the satellites they were stationed in. The ambassadors performed tasks that were central to the proper functioning of that empire, including the maintenance of an extensive series of exploitative measures that secured money and soldiers for France's many wars of conquest, and cajoling the satellites into remaining loyal allies despite the incredible financial burden such exploitation placed on them. The latter was accomplished by quiet coercion and an unspoken quid pro quo between the satellites and France, whereby the French supported local attempts to institute domestic reforms in exchange for the participation of the satellites in the empire. At the same time, the evidence shows that contrary to the assertions of many historians, the domestic reform of the satellites was a low priority for the Emperor's diplomats, with the important exception of admin-istrative and military reforms that strengthened the ability of the satellites to meet the demands of Napoleonic exploitation. The ambassadors, understanding local circumstances much better than the Emperor or the imperial bureaucracy in Paris, softened Napoleon's angry demands, and on occasion altered or disobeyed imperial orders to ensure the support of local collaborators for the Empire, making possible its expansion and maintenance. Moreover, the ambassadors implemented a series of imperial policies that were atypical of nineteenth century European diplomacy, ranging from the enforcement of the Continental System against imported British goods, to the transport of important works of art from the satellites to the Louvre.

  • Cigar Workers and the History of the Labor Movement in Puerto Rico, 1890-1920

    Author:
    Amilcar Tirado
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Alfonso Quiroz
    Abstract:

    During the first two decades of the twentieth century cigar production became a major industry in Puerto Rico. This was a predominantly urban industry in an economy dominated by the agricultural sector, whose product was exported as a complete and final product. The cigar industry was characterized by the employment of a relatively large number of workers. Its growth provided the opportunity for those workers interested in organizing unions to expand their incipient labor unions and also became the principal space for the incorporation of women into the labor market. This dissertation explores the role played by cigar workers in the development of the organized labor movement in Puerto Rico during the early years of the twentieth century. The discussion deals with the influence of this group of workers in the development of a working class ideology, as well as in organizing strategies to be used in the defense of workers interrests, such as strikes. Cigar workers promoted a culture and a way of working which gave them control over time, production, and working conditions.

  • A Cross-boundary People: The Commercial Activities, Social Networks, and Travel Writings of Japanese and Taiwanese Sekimin in the Shantou Treaty Port (1895-1937)

    Author:
    LIN-YI TSENG
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Helena Rosenblatt
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores Japanese imperial history in East Asia and focuses on a group of "cross-boundary people"--Taiwanese sekimin (Taiwanese who registered as Japanese subjects) and Japanese--who went to the treaty port of Shantou in southern China during the period between 1895 and 1937. The starting time point (i.e., 1895) corresponds to the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, by which Japan acquired Taiwan as a colony and informal privileges in Chinese treaty ports. The ending time point (i.e., 1937) corresponds to the decline that Shantou's Japanese community experienced owing to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War on July 7, 1937. By examining the official documents of the Taiwan General Government, commercial reports of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and major newspapers and travel writings published in colonial Taiwan, I explore the connections among the Japanese homeland (the metropole), the Japanese formal empire in Taiwan, and the Japanese informal empire in Shantou in terms of commercial activities, human resources, and networks of words. Concerning commercial activities, I argue that Shantou was an important market for both Japanese and Taiwanese goods, and that the commercial network comprising the Japanese metropole, colonial Taiwan, and the Shantou treaty port was significant for Japanese imperial formation in East Asia. Moreover, by analyzing the Japan-China co-invested Dadong Ice-making Company in Shantou, I explore the complicated competitive and cooperative relationships among three notably different ethnic groups there: Taiwanese sekimin, local Chinese, and Japanese in Shantou. By examining the Japan-founded educational institution known as --the Tôç School in Shantou, I clarify two important points: (1) the Taiwan General Government established a network of human resources for the Japanese homeland, colonial Taiwan, and the Shantou treaty port; and (2) this particular school's Japanese and Taiwanese teachers produced writings published in major Taiwanese periodicals, signifying a network of "words" between an element of Japan's formal empire (Taiwan) and an element of Japan's informal empire (Shantou).

  • The "Mary Carver" Affair: United States Foreign Policy and the Africa Squadron, 1841 - 1845

    Author:
    Amy Van Natter
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Robert David Johnson
    Abstract:

    Diplomatic historians have ignored the U.S. Africa squadron, leaving the subject to slave trade historians. Consequently, the squadron has only been interpreted through the narrow lens of the slave trade, resulting in a distorted view of a failed squadron disconnected from foreign policy. This dissertation re-evaluates the squadron from a foreign policy perspective and concludes that it was not created to suppress the slave trade. Instead, it argues that the United States created the squadron in response to an escalating dispute with Britain over the future of international law. Britain wanted the United States to concede the right of search to facilitate slave trade suppression, but the United States refused. Granting Britain the peacetime right of search would change international law, threatening free navigation of the seas. Americans argued that such a change would make slaves of us all. Britain increased pressure on the United States to concede by illegally searching more merchant vessels flying the American flag, provoking a serious diplomatic dispute. As this situation escalated, Americans dispatched naval cruisers to protect their merchant vessels from British interference. The dispute worsened to the point that the United States needed a permanent Africa squadron to protect Americans from ongoing British abuse. The proposed squadron faced many political obstacles. Ultimately, the tragedy of the merchantman Mary Carver helped the Tyler administration secure the necessary support and funding. The Mary Carver had been trading along the coast of West Africa when natives murdered her crew and destroyed the schooner. The attack provided the administration with a new justification for the squadron. Squadron supporters created an exaggerated portrait of Africans as savage pirates who preyed on American shipping, arguing that the incident proved the need for a squadron. Historians have mistakenly assumed that the United States created the squadron to suppress the slave trade and consequently judged it a failure. But the squadron was primarily created to protect Americans and their interests in West Africa; suppressing the slave trade was only a secondary concern. Considered in light of its total purpose and mission, the first U.S. Africa squadron was far from a failure.