Tag Archives: Human rights

Graduate Student James Smith Becomes Dr. James Smith! Dr. Smith Defends, “A Clash of Ideals: Human Rights and Non-Intervention in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1977-1988.”

We would like to congratulate Dr. James Smith on passing his dissertation defense on April 29, 2020. He becomes only the second person in the history of the Fordham’s History Department to pass his dissertation virtually.

Dr. Smith’s dissertation is titled, “A Clash of Ideals: Human Rights and Non-Intervention in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1977-1988.”

Below is his dissertation abstract:

The dissertation argues that Carter, Reagan, and other domestic and international actors deployed the ideals of universal human rights and state sovereignty as a political language. The protean meanings they assigned to the terms of that language were contingent upon calculations of political and strategic interests. The discourse of rights and sovereignty in domestic and international politics served as a means to justify or check political change, rather than as nonideological, moral, and legal imperatives. In short, Carter, Reagan, and others used morality and law as political strategy. The study proceeds from an analysis of records from the Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan presidential libraries. The personal papers of Patricia Derian, Barry Goldwater, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, and Donald Fraser provide additional context for the political uses of rights and sovereignty. So too, the papers of William Casey, Warren Christopher, and many of their contemporaries archived at the Hoover Institute enriched this analysis. The author also analyzed digital and other published collections of primary documents, interviewed and corresponded with former public officials, and reviewed memoirs, diaries, interview transcripts, and Congressional hearings and reports. While the dissertation probes the official mind of Washington in the manner of traditional diplomatic history, it also broadens that perspective by assessing how competing domestic and international actors deployed the conflicting ideals of rights and sovereignty. The dissertation builds upon the secondary literature by examining how Carter and others deployed human rights and non-intervention in the 1970s and 1980s. It connects that discourse to the history of U.S. foreign relations, domestic politics, international law, and the movement for economic decolonization. Then, after examining Carter’s embrace of rights and non-intervention as a campaign strategy and the contentious transformation of that rhetoric into policy, the dissertation employs as case studies U.S. relations with Panama, Nicaragua, and Iran. Finally, the dissertation assesses continuity and change in Reagan’s use of the ideals of rights and sovereignty in a foreign policy marked by anti-communism and democracy promotion.

You can reach Dr. James Smith at jwalkersmith511@gmail.com if you are interested in learning more about this fabulous dissertation.

Dr. James Smith

Comments Off on Graduate Student James Smith Becomes Dr. James Smith! Dr. Smith Defends, “A Clash of Ideals: Human Rights and Non-Intervention in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1977-1988.”

Filed under Alumni News, Dissertation Defense, Grad Student News, Graduate Student

A Recap of History Day at Fordham

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.

Comments Off on A Recap of History Day at Fordham

Filed under Conferences, Department Events, Events, Faculty Profiles, Grad Student News, Undergrad News, Undergraduate Research

Graduate Student, Glauco Schettini, publishes in the Journal of Modern Intellectual History

Glauco Schettini’s article, “Confessional Modernity: Nicola Spedalieri, the Catholic Church and the French Revolution, c.1775-1800,” published in Modern Intellectual History (Cambridge University Press), reconsiders the Catholic reaction to the French Revolution and more broadly to the emergence of what we usually term “modernity.”

The article focuses on Nicola Spedalieri’s On the Rights of Man (1791) and on the debate that its publication sparked in Italy and beyond. The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 and the polarization of public opinion between the supporters of the new regime and its relentless opponents convinced Spedalieri (1740-95), a well-reputed Catholic theologian, of the need to find a via media between these two extremes. Assuming the re-Christianization of the postrevolutionary world as his goal, Spedalieri argued that some aspects of revolutionary political culture (representative institutions, the idea of a social contract, the notion of human rights) were acceptable from a Catholic standpoint as long as the revolutionaries, in turn, agreed to abandon secularization and to uphold the traditional confessional organization of the state, recognizing Catholicism as the official state religion. It was not modernity itself, Spedalieri claimed, that should be rejected, but secularization, for a different modernity from that conceived by the revolutionaries was possible—a confessional modernity, combining revolutionary politics and confessional states. Far from gaining immediate acceptance, Spedalieri’s ideas were harshly criticized during the 1790s and then set aside by the triumph of reactionary Catholicism during the Restoration. However, they resurfaced later in the nineteenth century and ultimately played a decisive role in the development of the church’s attitudes toward modern culture, for they carved a path for Catholics to fight secularization from within and to reshape modernity accordingly.A free online version of the article is available here.


Glauco Schettini (Ph.D. Student at Fordham University)

Comments Off on Graduate Student, Glauco Schettini, publishes in the Journal of Modern Intellectual History

Filed under Fordham News, Grad Student News

History Hosts Samuel Moyn for Human Rights Discussion at Lincoln Center

the_last_utopia_by_samuel_moyn-460x307More than 150 students gathered on November 30, 2016, to have a conversation about the place of human rights in post World War II world with the world’s leading scholar on the subject — professor Samuel Moyn The Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law and Professor of History at Harvard University.  Moyn did not lecture.  After briefly telling the students what drew him to study human rights he engaged them in a dialogue in which our own undergraduates distinguished themselves and our university by asking nuanced sophisticated questions that demonstrated both mastery of Moyn’s work, which they read in preparation for the visit, and command of world’s affair.

moynThe event with the students was followed by a dinner discussion with professor Moyn in which diverse faculty from different departments and both campuses discussed the fundamental challenges of human rights policy and diplomacy such as the articulation of human rights, the distinctions between human rights, civil rights, and social and economic rights, the place of the nation state in promoting and protecting human rights, and the pitfalls of humanitarian intervention. (thanks to Doron Ben Atar for this blog post)

Comments Off on History Hosts Samuel Moyn for Human Rights Discussion at Lincoln Center

Filed under Department Events