Filming of Abuse, Archiving for Authenticity

As we have seen over the last 10 years, access to portable video devices has risen in the US as well as the world over.  In 2014 alone, video footage of police brutality and homicide have overturned arrests and brought charges to those responsible. Often, human rights violations and atrocities are now being recorded by observers and activists who want their footage to be seen. WITNESS, a leading documentation advocacy organization, has produced a readily accessible document for how-to-film and archive footage for preservation and access.

Recently, head archivist and co-author of the Witness video archive, Yvonne NG, was interviewed on Democracy Now! regarding the most recent police brutality incidents in New York City and Ferguson, MO being promoted on social media.

Resources from Witness: http://witness.org/resources/

Terry Cook

Yesterday, the Archival profession lost a giant who agitated, inspired and implemented seminal ways of stewarding history and record-keeping.  His passion for teaching and mentoring young archivists well into retirement was best vocalized in his 2010 ACA Keynote, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.”  A strong advocate for human rights and archival implications of documentation and advocating for future generations is represented in the voice he so passionately infused in his many articles and speeches given around the world.

The following is from the Association of Canadian Archivists:

An ACA member since the Association’s inception in 1975, he served the ACA in a variety of roles, including serving on the Publication Committee (1982-1984), the Conference Programme Committee on three occasions,  the Electronic Records Committee (1991-1992) and the Aboriginal Archives Special Interest Section (1997-1998).  He also acted as the ACA President’s Special Advisor on Public Policy from 1998-2006, a role in which he wrote briefs, appeared before Parliamentary Committees, published newspaper articles, and lobbied various bodies on legislation and policies that affected the archival community, such as copyright, privacy and access, and the historical census.  He served similar roles in the Society of American Archivists and other organizations.  In addition to authoring over 80 articles appearing in leading international journals, he also served on the editorial board for Archivaria (1981-1996 and 1999-2006) and American Archivist (1991-2001).  He was named a fellow of the Association in 2009.

From 1975 to 1998, he worked at the Public, later National, Archives of Canada, leaving as the senior manager responsible for directing the appraisal and records disposition program for all media. In his long and distinguished career there, he was responsible for the development of policies and methodologies which dramatically altered the national archival system. Among his many vital contributions, it was at the National Archives where he conceived and implemented macroappraisal and since its implementation in Canada, it has gained wide international acceptance.  Leaving the National Archives in 1998, he founded an archival consulting firm, Clio Consulting Inc., and worked for national, municipal, and academic archives, as well as archival associations, around the world.  He also served as an Associate Professor for the Archival Studies Program in the Department of History at the University of Manitoba from 1998-2012.  He was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010.

Terry will be missed greatly by his family, friends and followers in and out of the archival profession.  Its you and Elvis now friend.

Human Rights Internet and the Case of Nicaragua

Box 107, Fld 2

Box 107, Fld 2

In a 1989 issue of Nicaraguan Perspectives Noam Chomsky discusses the extent of events that, for one reason or another, go unreported by the US media. Asserting that the media are in fact “corporations” themselves, he explains that “this and many other factors influence [the media] to produce a picture of the world that reflects the interests of owners, advertisers, and the privileged elements that occupy managerial positions.” To those aware of the greater American involvement in South America – and elsewhere – this claim would not have constituted a particularly eye-opening revelation. It, presumably, would be even less momentous in our post-Wikileaks society. Of course, what made Chomsky’s piece in Nicaraguan Perspectives informative were the insights of these events that he described, as these were inaccessible to a public reliant upon the Times and the Post for its news. Though Chomsky and many others continue to expose and disseminate information unacknowledged by major American media outlets, there is much more to excavate beyond what can be included in a single essay, or chapter, or op-ed. Continue reading

Foreshadowed warnings and Unlikely Alliances

American foreign policy in the Middle East has long been characterized by uneasy alliances with unlikely partners.  For the last decade, our partners in the region have provided important support to American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, as the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq come to a close many academics are beginning to question whether certain alliances have been as helpful as many believe. In particular, American support for Saudi Arabia has been unwavering since the 2001 attacks despite the majority of the hijackers’ involved being Saudi nationals.  When compared with the human rights record of Saudi Arabia in basic legal proceedings one begins to question why American foreign policy personnel believe this relationship is beneficial for American image abroad.

In 1996 there was a terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers, a popular apartment building used by foreign military personnel in Khobar Saudi Arabia. Nineteen of those killed were American airmen. In response to this an open letter was written by Chandra Muzaffar (1996), Lessons from the blast: Opposition to US Alliance is strong within the kingdoms middle class.  The letter is very concise but provides an extreme amount of foresight into the future problems with United States involvement in the region. Firstly, it points out that the King of Saudi Arabia is considered the custodian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and because US policy seems to dictate much of the royal families’ actions many are beginning to view the United States as ‘the custodian of the custodian’. Information obtained from the 9/11 Commission report has indicated that many of the hijackers from Saudi Arabia were indeed middle class well- educated persons.

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Sugar and Strife: the Dominican Republic and Caribbean Policies in the 20th Century

United States intervention across the South American continent largely took the form of an ideological proxy war with the Soviet Union. While these military and political conflicts varied in intensity and scope, it could be argued that U.S. engagement was never for the sake of any direct threat to national security. The same, however, cannot be said for the policies employed for the island nations of the Caribbean. While the government had the luxury of forming policy thousands of miles away, the internal affairs of nations such as Cuba, a mere 90 miles from the U.S. coast, were of large import. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 had made the security concerns of the Caribbean more salient to both the American public and actors in Washington D.C.

The island nation of Cuba has long been a geopolitical thorn in the side of the United States. As a Spanish colony, Cuba represented a threat to the established “Monroe Doctrine” of western supremacy, and even as Spanish influence waned the American government sought to control the nation through economic and political actions. Following the Revolution of 1959, Fidel Castro assumed power, relations between the two nations deteriorated as his Regime aligned itself with the Soviet Union. In return for economic aid and political support, the island became a strategic position for Soviet military resources, with the Cuban army often acting as a paramilitary group in the proxy wars in South America that I have focused on in my previous posts. U.S. policies regarding Cuba underscored the need for intervention across the Caribbean in order to protect regional security interests.

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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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