April 21 - April 22, 2014
April 21 – April 22, 2014

The Archives and Special Collections in collaboration with the Dodd Center and Booklyn Artists Alliance, are hosting two days of events on War, Struggle and Visual Politics: Art on the Frontlines.  Events will be held in the Dodd Research Center on April 21st and 22nd in conjunction with the Week In Humanities.  Artists Seth Tobocman, Stephen Dupont, Marshall Weber, Chantelle Bateman and Aaron Hughes will be holding talks, workshops and presenting artwork around the focus of politics and activism in art and war.  Students, community members, veterans and artists are encouraged to attend these events to provide a dynamic facilitation of how we utilize art, activism and memory to cope with war.

Art work will be on display in galleries as follows:

Aaron Hughes : Institute for the Humanities : College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Seth Tobocman : Contemporary Art Gallery : School of Fine Art

Stephen Dupont : Coop Bookstore : Downtown Stores

For a full list of events, please follow this link for the Week in Humanities.

U.S. Operations in Bolivia: A Paradox of Policy

As was the case with the majority of the geopolitical proxy wars of the mid- to late-20th century, the case study of U.S. operations in Latin America throughout the cold war largely resemble neo-colonialism. This was the argument employed by Lawrence Whitehead (1969), a renowned scholar of Latin American democratization, who identified U.S.-Bolivian relations as a pure example of such; where the U.S. suborned the local regimes to protect its economic, ideological and national security interests through material aid. Such aid was used to keep sympathetic regimes in power and, further, the threat of curtailing this aid was a well-used manipulative tool that allowed the U.S. to bring regimes to heel.

In the particular instance of Bolivia, the economic and political factors underpinning U.S. operations were two-fold. For one, the nation was home to a considerable quantity of exportable tin that came to surpass silver as its most valuable commodity during World War II. However, it was the political turmoil that gripped Bolivia in the wake of the war that made it of significant concern to the U.S. government. Following a disputed election in 1951, in which the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) was denied victory, the group launched a successful revolution in April 1952. A large motivator of this was the abject socioeconomic conditions to be found in Bolivia after generations of laissez-faire government policies and exploitative capitalism. The severe inability for the MNR to combat these issues was seen as an opening for the spread of socialism, thus Bolivia became embroiled in the Cold War power dynamics of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Continue reading

Differing Views on Zionism

This week’s blog post will mainly focus on differing views of Zionism from within Israel and critics abroad. By contemporary standards, discussing the roots of Zionist ideology is rarely mentioned in the press. Furthermore, many politicians fear discourse that would anger Israeli leaders because US involvement in the region has grown in the past decade. Republicans and Democrats alike have long endorsed Israel, our ally, as a bastion of democracy and freedom in the Middle East.  The first piece examined for this week’s post was The Zionist State and Jewish Identity: a critique produced by the Israeli Revolutionary Action Committee Abroad (1973). This provides a critique of the ideological, cultural, and psychological aspects of Political Zionism. All articles have been written by Israelis who have been struggling against Zionism. image 4

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U.S. Political Leadership & El Salvadorian Policy

Michael Piersall is a senior undergraduate student in Political Science and Human Rights minor. In his blog series, he will study materials available in the Dodd Research Center’s collections to explore American Political Leadership with regards to Cold War activities in Latin America.

As a Political Science major, my academic focus often centers on the decision making process behind government action. As an “American-ist” more specifically, my interest lies in the deliberation and processes of the federal institutions that comprise the United States government. This semester, I have been given the privilege to examine materials in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center that relate to U.S. governmental actions precipitated by its political hegemony, specifically in Latin America. While these materials are in no way restricted from public access, I deem this a privilege because I am, above all else, a current-affairs wonk; I prefer analyzing events through their perception in contemporary contexts than an isometric historical glance that one can find on, for instance, Wikipedia. Further, my academic orientation towards Human Rights, specifically political and economic rights has provided a lens for additional analysis of the international consequences of U.S. actions.

To that end, I have spent the last few weeks reviewing several documents from the Human Rights Collections that pertain to the U.S. covert operations of the late-1970’s and 1980’s in El Salvador. This assertion of U.S. hegemony is an example of its late 20th Century brand of foreign intervention. Beginning under President Carter, and dramatically expanded under Reagan, this incursion into the domestic affairs took the form of economic, political, and covert wars. Robert Armstrong and Phillip Wheaton, left-leaning journalists for Solidarity Publications, define the two political camps advocating for intervention in El Salvador as either the “Militarists”, bureaucrats in the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency and other such institutions, and the “Reformists” in offices such as Agency for International Development or the quasi-public American Institute for Free Labor Development, which was created in concert with the AFL-CIO and the funding of the U.S. federal government.

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Beyond Arms: Mercenaries and Foreign Involvement in the Middle East during the 1970’s

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      I am a senior Political Science Major, with minors in history and human rights. I initially chose my internship with the Dodd Archives because of its unique holdings. Most famously, the Nuremburg Trial Papers have been examined by many scholars for the fundamental groundwork they laid for human rights advocates. As one of the youngest members of the millennial generation and one of the last children to remember watching the 9/11 attacks on television I feel a certain draw towards researching the Middle East. Furthermore, my involvement with the human rights program at the university has given me a distinctive outlook on international foreign involvement in the Middle East. The Arab Spring began while I was in my first year of undergraduate studies, and has continued to make headlines since. As a historian and political scientist I have noticed that the American population seems to have a short-term memory when it comes to American involvement abroad. I will attempt to remedy this phenomenon through my posts by concentrating on linking historical to contemporary international involvement in the region.

The Arms Trade of the Middle East: A Primer, by Howard H. Frederick

The Arms Trade of the Middle East: A Primer, by Howard H. Frederick

         Towards the end of the 1970’s the Middle East was going through a transformative period. This transformation was facilitated principally by the unrestricted and indiscriminate selling of weapons from the United States and NATO allies and USSR into the region. The Arms Trade of the Middle East: A Primer, by Howard H. Frederick published in 1977 extensively details the arms trade between Western and Soviet regimes to the authoritarian monarchs of the Middle East.

        The underlying problem with the arms trade outlined by Frederick in the periodical is the military industrial complex in place during the Cold War produced a need for selling American weapons around the world to benefit domestic defense contractors. One candid figure quoted by Frederick estimated the sale of one jet fighter earns back more dollars than the sale of one thousand automobiles. However, once weapons are sold to allies or enemies alike they become commodities on the world market. The following excerpt illustrates the totalizing system of the global commodity arms exchange:

Jordan sold American fighter aircraft and defense systems as well as British tanks to South Africa. British arms bought in New Zealand are being used by Irish Republican Army against British soldiers. US arms left over from Vietnam were sold at a Bangkok auction to a French dealer who in turn sold them to the rightist militias in Lebanon. US arms sold to Israel were used by Lebanese rightwing militias.

        -Christian Science Monitor, August 25, 1976

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Remembering Ben Linder through the Human Rights Internet

Archives & Special Collections staff member Tanya Rose Lane spent a great deal of time working on the Human Rights Internet Collection as a history student before completing her BA and being hired as an Assistant Archivist at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.  The following account reflects her experiences and findings while processing this extensive collection.

Few students are as fortunate as I am to do real, meaningful work while they are still completing their Bachelor’s degree. Even fewer have the opportunity to work on a collection that truly stimulates interest within the student. This summer, performing the inventory for the Laurie S. Weisberg and Harry Scoble Human Rights Internet Collection here at the Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center has provided me the opportunity to not only preserve history but also preserve the stories of great American humanitarians.

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Punks Freed

Pussy RiotIn a bold move, the Putin administration granted an amnesty releasing 30+ political prisoners from Russian penitentiaries last week.  Included in this band of rogues were members of the Greenpeace activist contingent arrested for disrupting Gazprom’s arctic drilling operations, the former richest man in Russia oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and the two remaining  jailed members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot who denounced the church and Putin while taking the stage of a large Orthodox Church in Moscow by force.  Pussy Riot members had been moved to Siberian prisons as a punitive measure.  Many media sources, as well as the prisoners themselves, believe that the amnesty was passed to contradict Russia’s glaringly bad human rights record.  This measure precedes the 2014 Olympics which will be hosted this year in Sochi.  Already large mobilization campaigns have begun to boycott the games because of the discrimination and brutality which LGBTQ communities face in even the most cosmopolitan centers of the country.

In relation to this, punk rock still carries a torch for challenging power through art and subversive culture.  A new collecting area has been initiated for the Alternative Press Collection at the Archives & Special Collections for 1980s and 90s punk rock ephemera.  Still being cataloged, the Joe Snow Punk Rock Collection features show flyers, demos, distro catalogs, photographs, zines and lots and lots of Maximum RocknRoll.  The finding aid will be published in the coming month and is currently available for research.

Contact the curator for more details on the APC Punk Rock Collection.

Tutela Legal Archives

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A report came out on October 4th, that the offices of a well respected Human Rights monitoring organization in San Salvador, Tutela Legal, were closed by its governing body, the Archdiocese of El Salvador.  Contained in these offices are the archives of the organization dating back to the late 1970s when El Salvador’s US backed dictatorship was terrorizing the civilian population as a response to the cold war. Tutela Legal’s archives document disappearances and abuses which were recorded in hundreds of case files compiled from testimonies of witnesses and survivors.

Currently, the records remain in the hands of the Archdiocese, which has safely housed the organization since the state terror period as a continuation of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s vision of human rights and liberation.  In the mid-1990s, University of Colorado at Boulder Archivist Bruce Montgomery funded a mass reproduction of Tutela Legal’s archives in order to store facsimiles outside of the country at his institution.  During that period, an amnesty law was passed making any future legal convictions regarding war crimes or crimes against humanity during the conflict period illegal in El Salvador.  Effectively, ‘it’s been dealt with, now go away.’  The eventuality of records destruction or alteration in human rights organization records outside the archival sphere makes collaborative projects like this between CU Boulder and Tutela Legal a reminder of the tenuousness of grassroots organization archives as well as the necessity for outreach from archivists to solidify networks of information solidarity.

UConn Slutwalk 2013

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Slutwalk, a march to end victim blaming, will be held on Friday, September 27th on the UConn Campus.  This years’ Slutwalk is organized by the student group Revolution Against Rape and will be leading the event down Fairfield Way at 4pm.  Slutwalk is a direct action approach to sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape culture by challenging these aggressions of power and violence.

For information on how women have organized themselves in the past, consult the Archives’ Alternative Press Collection.  Some related items include:

Freeing our Lives: A Feminist Analysis of Rape Prevention (1978) PAM 346

Fighting Back: A Self-Defense Handbook (1977) PAM 347

Aegis; Magazine on Ending Violence Against Women

Off Our Backs

and the colorful Wimmen’s Comix

Be sure to check out our current exhibit in the Dodd Center Gallery:  A Private and Sensuous Encounter: women’s fine press books, deluxe books and bookworks, 1980-present

2013-2014 Human Rights Film Series

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The first installation of the 2013-2014 Human Rights Film Series is upon us.  On Wednesday September 11, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator will be shown in the Konovar Auditorium at the Dodd Research Center from 4-7pm.  This award winning documentary (often promoted on this blog) provides rich context for the recently scrutinized trial of Guatemalan General Rios Montt.  The film will be followed by a discussion with expert forensic anthropologist Dr. Victoria Sanford of the Lehman Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies.

Details can be found on Events Calender