Three members of the history department were awarded summer funding by the Committee on Research to travel to archives this summer. Short descriptions of their projects follow:
Peter Staudenmaier: The Politics of Blood and Soil: Environmental Ideals in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy
The controversial history of early environmentalism in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy is not well understood. Though scholars in a variety of fields recognize the role of “blood and soil” beliefs in the two regimes – that is, the attempt to link natural regeneration with racial renewal – there is no consensus on their historical significance or practical relevance. Detailed empirical studies remain rare. My project represents the first comparative analysis of the topic based on archival research. It is structured around a series of case studies, including the history of organic farming under the Nazi regime and the Fascist campaign for ruralization in 1930s Italy. But the project as a whole goes well beyond these specifics. I aim to present a comprehensive historical analysis of the unlikely entanglement between environmental ideals and fascist politics.This is a classic “second book” project, with a full-length monograph as the eventual outcome. It represents an important new phase in my scholarship, and I expect the book to make a provocative contribution not just to historical debates but also to ongoing public discussion of vital and timely questions about environmental sustainability and its political contexts.
Lezlie Knox: Mariano of Florence: An Ordinary Friar in an Extraordinary Time
This biographical study of Fra Mariano of Florence (d. 1523) explores the lived experiences of a fairly ordinary Franciscan friar and his contemporaries during a period of religious turmoil both within his own religious order and in the Roman Church more generally in the decades prior to the Reformation. Mariano performed ordinary clerical duties throughout his life, but also found the time to research and write fifteen treatises on his order’s history and noted members. My research project uses these writings (some of which exist only in manuscript copy) to explore daily life in the friaries and convents of central Italy at the end of the Middle Ages. It also assesses how important debates over what it meant to be a Franciscan played out at a local level, a subject that is frequently overlooked in favor of conflict at the level of the Order’s leadership. This proposal specifically seeks funding to travel to Florence, Italy in June-July 2015 in order to read Mariano’s autograph manuscripts and research archival documents related to the communities in which he lived.
Michael Donoghue: Race, Identity, and Gender in U.S. Military-Cuban Relations 1941-1964
I plan to travel to Cuba next summer to investigate the local records of U.S. military-Cuban relations from 1941-1964 in Santiago, Guantánamo City, and Caimanera. The focus of my research is on the intersections of race, identity, and gender that occurred between U.S. military personnel and the Cuban people from World War II until the closing of the U.S. Guantánamo naval base from Cuban contact in 1964. The main focus of my research is how these interactions contributed to the anti-American atmosphere of the Cuban Revolution. The U.S presence resulted in numerous binational encounters. Some were negative that included brawls, crimes, the growth of a sex industry, and narcotics sales. Other had more positive impacts such as cultural and economic exchanges, service jobs, intermarriages, and joint interests in sports, religion, and spectacle. This study will examine the impact of these encounters in transforming what was once regarded as Washington’s closest alliance in the Caribbean into one of intense hostility by 1960. My third trip to Cuba will be concentrate on finishing up my research in the archives of Santiago and Guantánamo City and also conducting more interviews with retired Cuban workers from the base and local service industries that catered to Americans. This project will make a significant contribution toward our understanding of the many strands and forces that helped shape the Cuban Revolution beyond, high status actors, larger events, and economic indices, as it focuses on the personal and social relations that drove so many revolutionary processes.