• "I Have My Mind!:" U.S.-Sandinista Solidarities, Revolutionary Romanticism, and the Imagined Nicaragua, 1979-1990

      Simon, Bryant; Simon, Bryant; Talton, Benjamin (Temple University. Libraries, 2016)
      This paper examines activists in the United States that supported the socialist Nicaraguan government of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and opposed efforts by the Reagan Administration to militarily undermine Nicaragua’s new government during the 1980s. Such scholarship examines the rise of a leftist political coalition organized around supporting Nicaragua’s government and this solidarity movement’s eventual demise after the Sandinistas lost their country’s 1990 Presidential election. The work ultimately asks how did U.S. leftists and progressives of the late 1970s and 1980s perceive Nicaragua’s new government and how did these perceptions affect the ways in which these activists rallied to support the Sandinistas in the face of the Contra War? In answering this question, this paper consults a variety of primary sources including articles from socialist newspapers, the meeting minutes and notes of solidarity organizations, and oral histories with former activists. “I Have My Mind!” also consults cultural sources such as the protest and art benefit flyers and the lyrics to punk rock songs of the period to make its claims. This Masters Thesis argues that U.S. Americans’ solidarity with the Sandinistas relied upon a romanticization of Nicaraguan revolutionary reforms representative of movement participants’ own political aspirations.
    • MOVE: RELIGION, SECULARISM, AND THE POLITICS OF CLASSIFICATION

      Watt, David Harrington; Alpert, Rebecca T. (Rebecca Trachtenberg), 1950-; Talton, Benjamin; Lloyd, Vincent W., 1982- (Temple University. Libraries, 2018)
      This dissertation is a study of how religion is manufactured, policed, imagined, and defended in the modern United States. It traces the history of one group, MOVE, from its inception in the late 1960s to the present in order to illustrate how the category of religion functions in the modern United States. The central premise of the book is that MOVE people believed MOVE was a religion. They believed, nearly from the very beginning of the group, that John Africa was a prophet who communicated on behalf of the divine, that his Teachings were inspired and had supernatural effects on the body, and that MOVE people had a role to play in a cosmic conflict between forces of good (The Law of Mama) and forces of evil (The System). Despite this, MOVE was rarely allowed to be a religion. That is, MOVE’s claim that they had a religion was, more often than not, dismissed. Historians of religion have, in recent years, begun turning their attention to the people with the power to define lived experience as either religious or secular. In MOVE’s case, the people who defined their experience as secular, and not religious, included police officers, judges, journalists, established religious leaders, and politicians. At various points throughout MOVE’s history, these social actors articulated a series of claims about what “true religion” was and why MOVE did not count. The disconnect between how MOVE people viewed themselves and how MOVE was understood by most outside the group points to the central concern of this dissertation.