Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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.

  • The United States National Student Association: Democracy, Activism, and the Idea of the Student, 1947-1978

    Author:
    J. Johnston
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Gerald Markowitz
    Abstract:

    The United States National Student Association (USNSA, or simply NSA), America's dominant national union of students from 1947 to 1978, was the locus of an extraordinary variety of student organizing over the course of its 31-year history. A confederation of student governments, NSA claimed an active membership of hundreds of colleges and universities, trained and informed tens of thousands of student leaders, and served as both a resource and a foil to the other student organizations of its era. NSA's annual meeting, the National Student Congress, drew participation from a broad cross-section of American campuses. It was an incubator of theories and strategies of student empowerment that shaped the university, and a site of debate, consciousness-raising, information exchange, and organizing work. NSA maintained significant relationships with a wide variety of other student activist groups, including Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Young Americans for Freedom, and the National Student Lobby, the last of which it merged with in 1978 to create the United States Student Association. From the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, its top leadership was also engaged in a clandestine relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency. Through more than three decades NSA provided one of the few sources of long-term continuity in American student activism, and its persistent emphasis on the student's role in the university and the larger society enabled it to retain its campus focus, and its student base, as other student organizations drifted, often to their detriment. NSA grew from the premise that a student organization could be both activist and representative of the nation's students. This premise was the source of much of its strength. It was also, however, a source of great internal strain, and a drag on some of the Association's grander ambitions. While NSA's grounding in student government lent it a stability, longevity, and ideological diversity that is unparalleled among American student organizations, it also often fostered a timidity and a bureaucratic mindset that often constrained it from taking bold action at moments of upheaval and opportunity.

  • Homonoia in the Roman Empire

    Author:
    J. Kinlaw
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    joel allen
    Abstract:

    This study centers on the role of the idea of homonoia in the eastern Roman Empire between 50 and 170 CE. It focuses on six Greek-speaking authors, each of whom form one of the following chapters, which are arranged in rough chronological order. These authors and their emperors view reality through a lens of virtue and vice, and the ideal of "like-mindedness" has a vital, if little-discussed place in such a worldview. The socio-political value of homonoia was important enough to be personified and worshiped as deity. Nevertheless, there is no English monograph on the topic. This dissertation highlights the role of homonoia in authors traditionally labelled as either "pagan" or "Christian." Homonoia was essential in both these environments. It played an important role in the socio-political assemblies, on the one hand, as well as philosophical and religious dialogue, on the other.

  • Goals and Dreams: The Quest to Create Elite Youth Athletes in France, 1958-92

    Author:
    Lindsay Krasnoff
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Evelyn Ackerman
    Abstract:

    France was one of the first countries to develop programs that integrated youth athletics with academics and medical supervision to produce elite athletes. Today the products of the French systems play for the best teams and leagues around the world. Many countries from Africa to Great Britain have implemented youth training structures based upon the French model. But it was not always this way. This study examines the origins, implementation, and evolution of French youth sports training programs from 1958 to 1992. The lenses of football and basketball are used to amplify how Anglo-American team sports were used by the French to reformulate French identity and influence. Yet, this work is about more than just athletics. It is the story of France during the last half of the twentieth century, how it grappled with and adjusted to the many transitions that defined the post-1945 era, and how it positioned itself in the new Cold War world. Sport, specifically at the youth level, was one of the ways in which the French tried to address and adapt to a variety of post-war changes. After 1973, sport was an antidote to the legacy of 1968: a way to reinforce authority and nationalism in an era of increasing globalization during which the youth tested the limits of the rules. Youth sports programs served to assimilate youth, especially immigrant youth, into French society. France used youth sports as an agent of modernization, to re-launch itself as a rejuvenated nation that relied upon rationalized athletic development to produce elite athletes, ideal citizens who would win international sporting events and titles. The youth sports programs were important ways for the French to regain their sense of honor and prestige domestically and abroad. At a time in which soft power was an important tool of diplomacy, such athletic successes helped to demonstrate a revived France in a way that Charles de Gaulle was unable to accomplish during the 1960s.

  • More than a Box: The Economic and Social Implications of an Innovation in Freight Transport, 1956-2000

    Author:
    Marc Levinson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kessner
    Abstract:

    The shipping container is an underappreciated technological innovation of the second half of the twentieth century. After decades of failed experiments with various types of containers, the modern intermodal container came into use in the United States in 1956. Its initial economic consequences were felt most strongly in New York City, where the displacement of breakbulk shipping by container shipping through an entirely new port complex in New Jersey caused substantial job loss among longshoremen and contributed to the decline of manufacturing. Containerization came into international use across the North Atlantic in 1966, and was adopted in trans-Pacific trade following its successful use to supply U.S. troops in the Vietnam War. Containerization caused large shifts in port activity, as previously obscure ports, such as Oakland, California, and Felixstowe, England, displaced traditional maritime centers that lacked the space and transport connections to function efficiently as container ports, such as San Francisco and London. Starting in the late 1970s, regulatory changes, especially in the United States, permitted motor carriers, railroads, and ship lines to offer coordinated services based on confidential contracts covering rates and terms of service, leading to reductions in shippers' costs in return for volume guarantees that permitted carriers to make more efficient use of assets. These changes improved service reliability while making freight transport a less significant factor in firms' decision-making. The ability to ship goods in a single container from origin to destination, under a contract specifying equipment availability, delivery times, and rates, dramatically lowered the cost of shipping manufactured goods internationally. Manufacturers and retailers were then able to locate facilities and make sourcing arrangements in order to minimize other costs, such as labor and taxes. Containerization was a necessary but not sufficient condition for the subsequent shift of manufacturing activity from high-wage to low-wage countries and the creation of long-distance supply chains to assure the timely delivery of goods to market. These are important aspects of the phenomenon now termed "globalization," and would not have been possible without containerization.

  • Refugees and Resistance: International Activism for Grassroots Democracy and Human Rights in New York, Miami, and Haiti, 1957 to 1994

    Author:
    Carl Lindskoog
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freeman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores the evolution of political activism among Haitians in the United States from the formation of Haitian New York in the late 1950s to the return of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti in 1994. It traces the efforts of Haitian activists to build bridges connecting New York and Miami to the grassroots organizations in Haiti, finding a considerable degree of success in their efforts to construct a transnational movement that had a substantial impact both in Haiti and in the United States. Shedding additional light on the interconnected history of Haiti and the United States, this dissertation also adds to the growing historiography on immigrant activism and international campaigns for democracy and human rights. At the outset, politics in Haitian New York was splintered among competing factions, though by the early 1970s there began to form a somewhat unified anti-Duvalier opposition movement. The arrival of the Haitian "boat people" in South Florida in the early 1970s continued the evolution of Haitian politics in the United States, triggering a refugee crisis that drew the attention of the activists in New York and forcing a reconsideration of political vision and strategy that had previously been solely concerned with the overthrow of the Duvalier dictatorship. The grassroots resistance in Haiti and in the United States saw a slight opening with the arrival of President Jimmy Carter, but with Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, came a wave of repression in Haiti and stringent new policies toward Haitian refugees. The uprisings of 1985 and 1986 that toppled the Duvalier dictatorship transformed Haitian politics at home and abroad, enabling an expanded and tightened network of activism connecting New York, Miami, and Haiti, which grew from 1987 to 1989. The years 1990 and 1991 were the pinnacle moment for the linked popular movements in New York, Miami, and Haiti, though Haitian activists were soon forced to pour their energy into the overlapping campaigns aimed at reversing the coup against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and defending the new wave of refugees that the coup produced.

  • Learning to be modern: American Missionary Colleges in Beirut and Kyoto 1860-1920

    Author:
    Aleksandra Majstorac-Kobiljski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Beth Baron
    Abstract:

    In 1874, ABCFM, the richest and one of the most conservative evangelical organizations in North America decided to open in Japan an English-language institution of higher learning with a largely liberal arts curriculum. This was a shift away from its policies against educational work that was not based solely on the Scriptures and done in the local language. This shift and therefore the genesis of Doshisha English School (today Doshisha University) in Kyoto, was in large part the result of the successful establishment a decade earlier of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut. In the early 1860s, a group of renegade ABCFM missionaries, under the pressure from nascent Arab and expanding Jesuit schools, challenged a long-standing policy of their missionary board policy on secular education and ask for support in establishing a college, as opposed to a seminary. Their rebellion was successful, the Boston elders relaxed their policies, and in 1866 a college opened its doors in Beirut. Its successful establishment made a Christian college an acceptable use of missionary resources and a model that soon found fertile ground in Japan. This thesis charts the connected history of the Syrian Protestant College (today the American University of Beirut) and Doshisha English School in Kyoto (today, Doshisha University) and analyzes them as sites that catalyzed the debates on religion and science and shaped the discourse on education, progress, and development both in their locales and in the United States.Besides being supported by the same missionary organization, the Beirut and Kyoto colleges were connected by a common benefactor - William E. Dodge, one of the richest merchants in New England who played a key role on both continents. The two colleges also share a particular institutional framework based on the model of nineteenth-century American colleges - a non-sectarian Christian institution with a liberal arts curriculum - such as Amherst, from which both the founders of the Beirut and Kyoto colleges graduated. Finally, their common role in the modern history of the Middle East and Japan connected the two campuses as they quickly became, and remain to this day, important intellectual spaces in their respective regions.

  • How Water Became Public in Progressive-Era New York, 1883-1917

    Author:
    Gwynneth Malin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kessner
    Abstract:

    Four distinctive features of this historical period prompted the City of New York to undertake water management. First, the severe drought of 1881 forced the city to expedite construction of the New Croton Aqueduct in 1883. While the city was building the new aqueduct, the urban public began to spend their leisure time at the High Bridge, which monumentalized the Old Croton Aqueduct and raised awareness of public water. Second, the cholera scare of 1892 prompted the city to protect the Croton watershed from pollution. Third, the high-profile derailment of an intricate scheme of graft, in 1899, drove city officials to begin to eliminate private water companies and to increase vigilance about municipal corruption related to water. Fourth, the consolidation of Greater New York increased city and state power and improvements in municipal finance facilitated a new public water bureaucracy, which allowed the city to build, manage, and pay for its own water system, marked by the completion of the Catskills system in 1917. The management of water serves as an early example of government intervention in New York, which began before public schools, before the subway, and before government regulation of private gas and electric companies. Support for the idea of public water emerged as early as 1835 when the public voted in favor of building the city-run Croton water system, but public water was not on solid ground until much later. In fact, the idea of public water preceded the necessary infrastructure, bureaucracy, and finances required to make it possible. While no municipal operation is ever wholly public or private, between 1883 and 1917, the notion of public management of water triumphed in New York. It was during this long historical moment that city officials and New Yorkers began to think of, and to treat, water as a public resource. By providing a new synthesis of the cultural, economic, political, and social history of water in New York during this critical period, this study emphasizes the complexity and contingency in the story of how New York's water became public.

  • Eating Soviet: Food and Culture in the USSR, 1917-1991

    Author:
    Anton Masterovoy
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Cynthia Whittaker
    Abstract:

    This dissertation argues that the best way to understand the nature of Soviet history is through the prism of food. Soviet citizens were encouraged to see the availability of food as the main measure of success for the construction of a new, Soviet civilization. The disappointment with the inability of the Soviet government to provide the quantity, quality and variety of food that the Soviet consumers expected was one of the major causes for the collapse of the USSR. The first chapter addresses the reasons why and how so unlikely a food as sausage became and remains the primary Russian symbol of economic abundance. Unlike the similarly symbolic goods in other socialist regimes, the Soviet craving for sausage has not been resolved and remains a point of tension in the post-socialist era. The second chapter argues that in a society of scarcity it became necessary to possess heroic status in order to be rewarded with better food in greater amounts. As a result, the heroic claims of the primary beneficiaries of the system, such as the Communist Party, became highly contested. The third chapter deepens the understanding of the successes and failures of the attempts to construct a uniquely Soviet ethnic identity. The two attempts to create a Pan-Soviet cuisine show how even food choices became highly politicized and reflected the fates of the Soviet nationalities policy. Yet, the continued popularity of multi-ethnic dishes demonstrates the continued personal engagement of many consumers with the Soviet past. The fourth chapter unravels a commonly held view by demonstrating that the arrival of McDonald's and other Western food innovations to the late USSR were a continuity of Soviet modernization policies rather than their disruption. The importation of Western-style fast-food into the USSR was supposed to resolve Soviet inefficiency, ease the double burden of working women, and rationalize the process of eating. Soviet culinary reforms faltered and while trying to create the New Soviet Man and Woman, they have given rise to the Nutritionally Dissatisfied Man and Woman instead.

  • The Biological Engineers: Health Creation and Promotion in the United States, 1880-1920

    Author:
    Kate Mazza
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Martin Burke
    Abstract:

    At the turn of the twentieth century the emerging field of professionals called "biological engineers" proposed individualized, prescribed physical training and health guidance based on physical examinations. They wanted to apply higher standards of health to people of all classes because they recognized that the college-educated as well as the unskilled, the immigrant as well as the native born, adults as well as children were subject to physical ailments and neurasthenia. Urbanization, the division of labor and intensive schooling contributed to these health problems for the majority of Americans of all classes. Dr. Dudley Sargent's system of physical training aimed to institutionalize biological engineering at schools and colleges. As Physical Director of Harvard University, he conducted anthropometric measurements and medical examinations to prescribe exercise on pulley-weight machines of his own creation. His system was suitable for most people, in contrast to competitive sports, which were increasingly popular on the college campus. However, Sargent's system was too costly and time-consuming for most public primary and high schools. To fill the void in health supervision, biological engineers supported school hygiene initiatives. While first focused on the school environment, by the early 1900s school hygiene programs shifted to examine children for communicable disease and "remediable defects." These programs were popular and widespread, but the endeavor never proved to be as organized, as standardized or as thorough and extensive as they wanted. Negative reactions from the subjects of the programs, internal conflicts and a lack of unified opinions weakened the field. Additionally, there were tremendous difficulties in applying such a comprehensive program on a large scale. Even as physical training and hygiene laws were passed in many states, by the late 1910s physical education became demedicalized, the biological engineering vision became diluted and the role was fragmented into other specializations.