Prof. Asif Siddiqi curated, selected, and annotated documents to comprise a new Digital Archival collection on Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, for the Wilson Center’s Cold War International History Project. The first human to travel into space, fifty years ago, on April 12, 1961. You can click this link to access more information.
Prof. Siddiqi writes: Collectively these 20 declassified documents provide an extraordinary peek into the preparations and implementation of the flight of Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet cosmonaut, who flew into space in his Vostok spaceship on April 12, 1961.
On Monday, February 10, 2020, Fordham’s History Department hosted its annual History Day celebration. The event brought together some fascinating research from Fordham undergraduate and graduate students and Fordham faculty. The day’s keynote speaker was Prof. Amanda Armstrong. Below is just a snippet of the fascinating work and images we heard from our participants. You will hear from Brian Chen, Hannah Gonzalez, Grace Campagna, Emma Budd, Christian Decker, and Kelli Finn.
Brian Chen discussed Henry Kissinger’s diplomacy during the South Asia Crisis of 1971. He argued that given the geopolitical constraints of the Cold War and the limits of U.S. influence in the region, his response to the genocide in East Pakistan was not unreasonable. Kissinger’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” improved the prospects of peace between the United States and the Communist world, while also providing necessary humanitarian relief to the Bengali people.
Hannah Gonzalez’s paper, “Natives, Naturalists, and Negotiated Access: William Bartram’s Navigation of the Eighteenth-Century Southeast,” examined how the naturalist William Bartram negotiated access to native territories and knowledge while constrained by colonial politics and a climate of cross-cultural hostilities. This navigation of the Southeast involved the utilization of imperial and colonial structures, from treaties to white traders. As recorded in Travels, Bartram’s journey demonstrates how naturalists negotiated the cultural landscape on levels beyond the scientific.
You can follow her on Twitter @hannahegonzalez.
Grace Campagna’s presentation, “The Quern: The Biography of a Medieval Object,” traced the lifecycle of an artifact, including its production, operation, and repurposing, using both historical and archaeological methods. The quernstones that archaeologists discovered in the Thames river came from a quarry in Germany in order to undergo the final stages of manufacturing in a London workshop. The presentation examined how communities assign value to everyday items and addressed the challenges of analyzing objects for which there are few primary sources. You can access the full link to her article here: https://medievallondon.ace.fordham.edu/exhibits/show/medieval-london-objects-3/quern
Emma Budd’s presentation analyzed intersecting power dynamics in colonization, humanitarian intervention, and sexual assault. Through the lens of the Algerian War of Independence, she argued that the three aforementioned phenomena are intrinsically connected by their roots in a desire for power without concern for humanity.
Christian Decker’s presentation talked about Polish immigrant networking from 1900 to 1945. It included discussion of family and labor networks, religious networks, all the way up to the formation of the Polish American Congress.
You can follow Christian Decker on Twitter @PCGamingFanatic
Kelli Finn’s presentation, “We survive. We’re Irish:” An Examination of Irish Immigration to the United States, 1840 -1890,” examined how the systemic poverty that Irish immigrants faced from the 1840s-1880s shaped their immigrant experience. It argued that the extreme poverty that the Irish faced lead to harsh stigmatism of Irish immigrants even in the workforce which in turn lead to poor living conditions for the Irish when they got to America and the highest mortality rates among immigrant groups at the time.
Osei-Opare’s article tells a new history of the Cold War, of Ghana’s early postcolonial foreign policy, and the formation of Ghana’s national identity through its diplomatic, economic, and migratory relationship with the USSR during Kwame Nkrumah’s government (1957–66). Through examining English and Russian sources from American, British, Ghanaian, and Russian archives, this article offers three arguments. First, by analyzing Soviet anxieties over its role in Ghanaian affairs, the article shows that Ghana significantly controlled the economic and diplomatic contours and pace of its relationship with the USSR. Second, that discourses of race and neocolonialism were more central to defining the terms of Ghana’s geopolitical positioning than the Cold War framework. Third, the virulent racism Ghanaians experienced in the United States and USSR helped forge a global Ghanaian national consciousness. The article illuminates an independent black state’s attempts to procure sovereignty against a white supremacist economic and political international order and calls for Cold War scholars to engage seriously with African archives alongside non-African ones to create more dynamic, representational historical accounts.
Fordham’s own Dr. Asif Siddiqi recently spoke to New Books Network about his latest monograph, The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination 1857-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2013) in which he examines the long history of space travel in Russian culture. Click here to listen to the full interview at the New Books Network website.
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Fordham History graduate student LaurenceJurdem has published “James Burnham, Sidney Hook and the Search for Intellectual Truth: From Communism to the Cold War, 1933-1956,” in the latest issue of American Communist History 13:2-3 (2014). The article, which originated as a paper in the US History seminar with Dr. Daniel Soyer, discusses the intellectual odyssey of the conservative foreign policy columnist James Burnham and the public intellectual Sidney Hook. Jurdem examines how the two academics were first fascinated and then disillusioned with the ideas of Karl Marx. That intellectual shift played a decisive role in causing the two men to spend the rest of their careers as advocates for the destruction of the Soviet Union. Jurdem is currently completing his dissertation, entitled “The Power to Define Reality: The Influence of Conservative Media on American Foreign Policy 1964-1984”.
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