newsletter del cispea summer school network
CISPEA SUMMER SCHOOL NETWORK
NUMERO 1 ~ PRIMAVERA 2011
Questo numero è stato curato da: Matteo Battistini, Alberto Benvenuti,
Cristina Bon, Francesca Cadeddu, Andrea Casati, Michele Cento,
Chiara Corazziari, Lorenzo Costaguta, Mattia Diletti, Matteo Fornaciari
Per iscriversi alla newsletter:
Presentazione del numero 1 della newsletter p. 2
The Tea Party movement: a populist attack on the American conservative
movement? (Vincent Michelot) p. 4
Immaginare l’America. Gli Stati Uniti nella Seconda Repubblica, da Bill Clinton al
Tea Party (Mattia Diletti) p. 13
Il diritto a portare armi previsto dalla Costituzione degli Stati Uniti (Marco
Casagrande) p. 21
Second International Research Seminar for Young Americanists – Abstract e
curricula p. 30
VII Summer School Cispea – Bando e programma p. 102
Sei un ex-alunno? Partecipa alla conferenza finale della scuola! p.107
numero 1 della
ome abbiamo annunciato lanciando il numero zero di C’era una volta
l’America, il numero 1 della newsletter vuole approfondire il profilo storico di
alcune tematiche dell’attualità politica statunitense. Alla luce delle elezioni di medio termine dello scorso novembre, non potevamo non considerare il movimento
Tea Party, non soltanto per la sua importante affermazione politica in vista delle
prossime primarie repubblicane e delle presidenziali del 2012, ma anche perché lo
stesso movimento utilizza la storia politica dell’eccezionalismo americano come
un punto di forza per le sue battaglie ideologiche e politiche. Fin dal suo nome,
infatti, il movimento fa esplicito riferimento ai fatti di Boston del 16 dicembre 1773
che anticiparono la guerra d’indipendenza, quando una sessantina di coloni tra
vestiti da indiani assalì un mercantile inglese buttandone a mare il carico per protestare contro i dazi del tè imposti dal Parlamento britannico1.
La formazione di movimenti, in alcuni casi confluiti in veri e propri partiti, in
altri invece assorbiti dal Partito repubblicano o democratico, che appaiono e scompaiono nel panorama politico, non rappresenta una novità nella storia politica
americana: nel saggio The Tea Party Movement: a Populist Attack on the American
Conservative Movement?, Vincent Michelot, docente presso l’Università di Lione
2, ci aiuta a comprendere che cosa rappresenti oggi il Tea Party, quali siano le sue
debolezze e i suoi punti di forza e che cosa ci si possa aspettare da un movimento
estremista e conservatore, espressione del disagio politico di una parte della popolazione americana.
Il movimento Tea Party sembra produrre effetti anche oltre oceano. Nel suo
intervento, Immaginare l’America. Gli Stati Uniti nella Seconda Repubblica, da Bill
Clinton al Tea Party, Mattia Diletti, ricercatore all’Università La Sapienza, sottolinea
come il Tea Party sia diventato un modello politico anche al di fuori dei confini
americani, in particolare nel contesto italiano; nonostante la crisi economica e
politica statunitense, l’“America” continua a nutrire l’immaginario della politica
italiana, quale che sia il risultato di questi tentativi di importazione.
L’8 gennaio 2011 a Tucson, in Arizona, Jared L. Loughner ha aperto il fuoco
contro il comizio della deputata democratica Gabrielle Giffords, uccidendo otto
persone, compreso il Presidente del Tribunale federale per l’Arizona. Questo tragico fatto di cronaca ha riportato alla ribalta una polemica di lungo periodo sul diritto
al possesso delle armi: nel suo articolo Il diritto a portare armi previsto dalla Costituzione degli Stati Uniti, Marco Casagrande, dottorando presso l’Università degli
Studi di Padova, discute il profilo materiale e formale del II emendamento, analizzando sentenze e interpretazioni giurisprudenziali per mostrare come il diritto al
possesso delle armi abbia mutato il suo significato giuridico e politico nel tempo,
fino ad assumere ai nostri giorni una veste tutt’altro che anacronistica.
Infine, mentre il numero autunnale della newsletter è dedicato alla scuola
estiva, abbiamo deciso di riservare una parte del numero primaverile alla presentazione delle nuove ricerche storiche presentate al seminario dei giovani americanisti che il CISPEA organizza annualmente. Pubblichiamo dunque gli abstract
delle relazioni svolte al Second Research Seminar for Young Americanists: New
Research on the History of the United States and Transatlantic Relations, tenutosi
a Roma lo scorso 14–15 ottobre, organizzato appunto dal CISPEA insieme al CSA,
Centro Studi Americani.
Ricordiamo inoltre che dal 26 al 30 giugno 2011 si terrà a Reggio Emilia la Settima Summer School CISPEA, 1861–1901: Stati Uniti, Italia, Germania e le sfide
dell’unità nazionale. Pubblichiamo il bando e il programma della scuola, e le indicazioni per partecipare all’ultimo giorno della scuola.
1. All’eccezionalismo americano è stata dedicata la prima edizione della Scuola
The Tea Party
A populist attack on the
Vincent Michelot (University of Lyon 2)
een from Europe, the Tea Party movement may be viewed as an American curiosity full of strange and colorful characters feeding on the slow decay of representative democracy and the anger of people directly affected by the economic
crisis. Actually, the exotic “American-ness” of the movement also serves as an excuse on this side of the Atlantic to brush off the contradictions and the tensions
that spring to the eye of the observer: the Tea Party movement has no identifiable
leader or spokesperson, no structure to which it can be immediately assimilated
and quantitatively little representation in Congress or the State legislatures; yet
at the same time, the Tea Parties are highly organized, well financed, capable of
training their activists and, like no populist movement before them, enjoy open
and almost unlimited access to mainstream media.
Even though they represent a minority of the Republican majority in either
one of the two Houses of Congress (around 60 in the House, 4 in the Senate), Tea
Party senators and representatives are often viewed as pivotal in the success of the
Republican Party in opposing President Obama’s legislative agenda and in imposing conservative reforms, notably on the question of the budget.
This is despite the fact that not a single one of the demands of the movement
can realistically be implemented into law, specially as the goals of fiscal discipline
and shrinking the size of the Federal Government run counter with a strong attachment to costly social programs at home – such as Medicare and Social Security – and to a powerful military apparatus, regardless of the objectives and missions it is assigned.
Consider that in various publications and speeches, the Tea Parties have asked
for: the repeal of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the Constitution
which, allegedly, for the first allows the unlimited growth of the Federal Govern-
ment because of the constitutional possibility it creates to levy an income tax, and
for the second, perverts the balance of US federalism by providing for the direct
election by the people of US Senators, rather than an indirect election through
the State legislatures; the termination of the Department of Education and/or of
the Interior for they are purportedly in violation of the distribution of powers according to the Constitution between the Federal Government and the States; the
introduction of a flat tax to replace the progressive federal income tax; the adoption of a balanced budget amendment which would make it impossible for the US
Congress to vote a budget that would not be balanced, regardless of the economic
circumstances. The latter idea is often advanced as a logical solution: many States
do have a balanced budget provision in their constitution so there is no reason the
principle should not apply at the federal level.
Finally the Tea Parties, whose culture is anti-Washington and anti-institutional, heavily insist on fighting alleged graft and corruption in the Capital City
and on restoring American pride abroad. Again, the latter point is interesting: the
movement is ferociously critical of President Obama and kept alive the “birther”
controversy as long as the President did not publicly release his long-form birth
certificate because they believe he has abandoned a central tenet of conservatism,
the concept of American exceptionalism.
The ultimate contradiction of the movement can be found in the contrasted
evaluations of its electoral potential. First one must be reminded that the Tea Parties
are very a recent phenomenon which appeared in the early part of Barack Obama’s
first term. Most observers credit the “birth” of the movement to Rick Santelli, a
CNBC financial journalist who went into an on-air rant about government waste
on February 19, 2009, bemoaning the sordid example the Federal Government allegedly set by rescuing or bailing out banks and creditors in the mortgage crisis.
So the Tea Parties can, at of this writing, only be judged by the standard of the 2010
mid-term elections in which their record is a mixed one. Indeed, the Tea Parties
have brought energy and enthusiasm to primary elections in which they proved
to be a dominant player in selecting Republican candidates. All observers concur
on how difficult it would be for the Republican Party, in any election, to mobilize
and get out the vote without the Tea Party converts. Yet at the same time, it has to
be observed that the composition of the electorate is different from primaries to
the general election, and from mid-term elections to presidential elections. The
sociology of the Tea Party movement, which numerous studies have described,
is indeed that of a group of voters who are generally older, more educated, whiter
and more conservative than the average1. This profile gives the Tea Party an exceptional advantage in (Republican) primaries in which the average voter fits those
characteristics exactly. But it is indeed less of an asset in the general elections in
which voters are usually less radical in their views and more diverse and centrist.
This contrast is in evidence in the sequence between the Republican primaries in the spring of 2010 and the general election in November. News coverage in
the spring was dominated by the capacity of the Tea Party candidates to unseat a
certain number of “traditional” politicians and to nominate men and women with
no prior experience. The drive of the Tea Party movement was both violently anti-Washington and anti-politics as usual and acquainted political experience and
years of presence in Washington with corruption and the preservation of the status quo. This is indeed one of the main populist characteristics of the movement
and yet despite its “throw the bums out” rhetoric, the movement is exclusively limited to the Republican Party and made no inroads in the Democratic primaries.
Mechanically though, the rhetoric profited the Republicans who had fewer incumbents and thus fewer seats to defend as they were a relatively small minority.
In the general election, the Republicans regained the majority in the House
(which they had lost in 2006) and gained six seats in the Senate where they now
have 47 seats. Altogether, among the candidates clearly affiliated to the Tea Party
movement 86 lose and 46 win. Exit polls also show that 56% of voters declared that
the Tea Parties were not a factor in their vote. Yet, the victory of the Republican
Party is at best a mitigated one, and this for multiple reasons:
• since the unemployment figures remained stable around 9.6%, it was totally
predictable that the incumbent party would lose seats and as early as May, ev-
ery reputable analyst predicted a Republican victory in the House of Representatives and major gains for the Republican Party in the Senate. Yet, only in
the worst case scenario for the Democrats would the minority party regain the
majority in the upper chamber as Republicans needed to win 10 seats, a very
tall order knowing that the Democrats were defending 19 seats altogether. A
Republican victory was possible only if their candidates defeated more than
half of the incumbent party nominees, which is nearly impossible to achieve,
specially knowing the advantages of incumbency2.
• to this one may add that 2010 came after two major Democratic victories in
congressional elections, which means that after 2008 the Democratic Party
had reached its maximum electoral potential and could hardly go up from
• finally, with the exception of 2002, which was indeed an exceptional election,
all midterm elections in the first term of a president tend to be losses for the
So altogether the Republican victory was indeed expected and our claim is
that it could have been a
landslide, had it not been
for the Tea Parties. In effect, three losses in the
Senate in Colorado, Delaware, and Utah can be directly ascribed to weak Tea
Party candidates who had
actually won primaries
over established politicians: Ken Buck, Christine
O’Donnell and Sharron
Angle effectively ran campaigns which were so dysfunctional as to become
stars. Had the Republican Party won those three
seats which were fully within reach, then the balance of power in the Senate would
have been 50:50, but then two centrist and very independent senators with a voting record often closer to the Republicans than to the Democrats would have easily
been persuaded to switch party allegiance; Ben Nelson in Nebraska and/or Joseph
Lieberman of Connecticut would have taken no electoral risk in doing so (the former is a Democrat in a heavily Republican state, the latter an Independent who
was defeated in the Democratic primaries and was a constant support of President
Bush’s foreign policy) and in a better position, as members of the majority party, to
serve the interests of their state.
In short the political landscape today would be very different it were not for
the Tea Party running those three candidates in the senatorial elections. Indeed,
on the questions of the 2011 budget (which Congress had still not voted in April of
2011), of the preparation of the 2012 budget, of the necessity to raise the debt ceiling of the United States and on the possible repeal of the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act the situation would be very different if the Republicans con-
have been a
it not been for
the Tea Parties
trolled both houses of Congress rather than just the Lower House. It also should
be clear that at a time when the United States is engaged in military operations in
Iraq, Afghanistan and Lybia while dealing at the same time with a transformational
process in Arab regimes, the special responsibilities of the US Senate in foreign affairs would indeed have given the Republicans a formidable bargaining chip with
President Obama had they won the majority in 2010.
Not only can the Tea Parties be held responsible for diminishing the size and
the import of the Republican victory in 2010 but they also represent, as of 2011 and
leading to the 2012 elections, a liability for the Republican as much as an asset.
This claim can be supported in the following way:
• first there are telling symptoms about the state of the Republican Party: at this
point in time, which is exactly 8 months before the first primaries, the field
of Republicans vying for the nomination is shallow and narrow and very few
candidates have either put together solid campaign organizations or raised
significant amounts of cash. The news in the campaign focuses more on who
has decided not to run than on identifying a front-runner. This is very different from previous presidential elections when the field was largely determined almost immediately after mid-term elections. There are multiple explanations to that, most of them circumstantial, but overall what dominates is the
idea that the candidates that are generating interest and enthusiasm among
conservative voters are unelectable (Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Donald
Trump, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul...) and that those favored by the establishment of the Party are determined to keep a low profile until very late in the
game so as to avoid having to be vetted as a front-runner by the Tea Parties
and on Fox Television (Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney...). What this
shows is that the Tea Parties have introduced in the Republican Party a form
of ideological fundamentalism which is incompatible with governing. Indeed,
the main weakness of the latter three aspirants to the Republican nomination
is that they have all exercised positions of power in which they struck compromises that are unpalatable to voters looking for conservative ideological purity. For example, as governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney implemented a
form of heath care plan that strangely resembles what is commonly known as
“Obamacare” and supported abortion rights in a very liberal state; Mitch Daniels, before becoming the governor of Indiana, was at the head of the Office
of Management and Budget under President Bush and oversaw budgets that
were unpopular with conservatives as they represent what they call “big government conservatism”. Any potential Republican aspirant to the nomination
in 2012 must face a harrowing examination of his/her conservative credentials
by self-appointed guardians of the conservative temple in the Tea Party. Even
though a presidential election with an incumbent president running is essen-
tially a referendum, it nonetheless remains that the challenger party damages
its chances by making it difficult for 2/3 front runners to emerge rapidly.
• the 32 freshmen Republicans who were elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and who are directly affiliated to the Tea Party movement were
for most of them elected in districts that were traditionally leaned Democratic.
It is easy to explain why: in Democratic strongholds, the Republican nomination was less attractive to seasoned politicians and thus favored Tea Party affiliated candidates with little or no prior experience of elective office. In 2012,
they will be in the weakest position possible, that of freshmen incumbents
having to defend their seat on a voting record that will be difficult to sell to
the voters. Indeed, their election was the result of a protest vote which did
not give them any programmatic mandate. This means that those freshmen
Republicans must either vote no on most measures that are put to the vote because of ideological purity and the supposed dangers of compromise, which
also means breaking away from the party leadership and from party discipline
in a chamber that rewards discipline and respect of leadership, or vote yes on
issues such as raising the ceiling of the federal debt with the risk of appearing to betray the ideals of the Tea Party on taxation and the size of the federal
• in the Senate, the Tea Party movement has even less of hold on power: first
of all, senators are wary of joining caucuses (such as the Tea Party caucus)
because that infringes on their individual power and constrains them into a
discipline which has few rewards; then the High Chamber, even more so than
the Lower House, is organized based on seniority and few Tea Party members
have accumulated the years necessary to chair a committee or exercise a leadership function; then, the years 2007–2008, when the Republicans returned to
the minority but nonetheless managed to effectively support President Bush
and thwart the Democratic agenda proved how valuable party discipline is,
especially for the minority in a chamber where 41 votes (the number of votes
necessary to sustain a filibuster) can get you a long way in shaping the agenda
of the institution. It would indeed be highly dangerous for Tea Party senators
to ignore that rule, specially in a context where the Senate really seems within
reach of the Republicans in 2012, as in 24 of the 33 states that are voting that
year the seats are held by a Democrat. A gain of four seats would then return
the Senate in the red column. It would be taking an enormous risk for the Tea
Party movement to atomize the Republican Party in this context.
• finally, one can defend the point that the Republican victory in the 2010 elections was actually as much of “shellacking” for the Democratic Party – to use
President Obama’s own words – as a blessing. In a difficult economic context with unemployment remaining high and the blames flows naturally to
the majority party, because of the present situation of divided government, Republicans and Democrats will now share
the blame as well as the credit. As much as the 2006 and 2010
mid-term elections demonstrated that a political party can
win big without making any kind of real programmatic offer, basically just running on the fuel of voter anger, presidential elections, even with an incumbent running, demand
that the challenging party articulate a platform and run on a
record. This means that the Republican Party needs the 112th
Congress to be somewhat productive, a proposition which is
completely at odds with more polarization in an institution
which presently suffers from exactly that, excessive polarization with the inability to reach compromise. The Tea Party
movement brings to Congress a more polarized nature and
thus hampers the ability of the legislative branch to serve as a
check on the presidency.
In any case the future of the Tea Party movement is somewhat
murky and this for multiple reasons: first of all, it is essentially a
protest movement which appeared within the American conservative movement at a time when the latter was in the middle of
a profound redefinition after the eight years of the Bush Administration which led to a deep transformation of the conservative
ideology, saw some of its goals achieved, exhibited weaknesses
and dead-ends, and conditioned ideological mutation and transformation upon a form of institutional change which contributed
to redefining the imperial presidency. But the institutional model
that was put into place by the Bush Administration to implement
its agenda runs counter to the libertarian streak which characterizes the Tea Party movement.
Besides demands that, as we saw, cannot be implemented
into law, the Tea Party movement, as was well demonstrated by
Williamson, Skocpol and Coggin, feeds on the ideas that redistribution of income and benefits favors the “undeserving” and that
“hard-working Americans” are under-represented in a dysfunctional political system. What the three political scientists call “racial, ethnic and generational resentment” and the feeling of being
disconnected from government are almost by-products of those
two major themes3. The three major areas of the law where those
themes coagulate are welfare, taxation, and immigration. Looking at those issues from the Tea Party side, there is relatively little
Newsweek cover, November 23, 2009: “How do you solve a problem
like Sarah? She’s bad news for the GOP – and for everybody else.”
hope of transformational legislation on any of those issues: the debate on the Welfare State focuses on the implementation or repeal of the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act and the privatization of Medicare, which Representative Paul
Ryan, the chairman of the Committee on the Budget, suggested in his 2012 budget
plan, has been met with extreme care, even within the ranks of the Republican
Party; the debate on taxation is largely constrained by the budget deficit; both parties are divided on the question of immigration and there is very little chance of a
vote taking place in Congress on the issue before the 2012 elections.
Such populist conservative movements which have emerged over the past in
American political history have had difficulty in sustaining their drive over more
than two electoral cycles if they did not become a fundamental part of a coalition
in Congress or a coalition of voters for the presidential elections. As of this date the
Tea Party movement has neither and tends to look more like the tax revolts of the
1950s, the John Birch Society efforts of the 1960s, or again the Ross Perot supporters of 1992. Just like the Christian Fundamentalists in the 1980s and 1990s, they are
both a captive segment of the Republican electorate (which means that their only
real choice on election day is to vote or to stay at home) and they have been largely
instrumentalized by Republican elites with whom they share common goals and
ideals but from whom they also largely differ on other issues, notably the calendar
and feasibility of desired reforms. On two questions such as Medicare reform and
immigration, the potential exists to operate that break between the grassroots, the
boots on the ground, and the elites, those who profit from channeling the anger,
within the movement.
In conclusion, it is difficult to envisage a central role for the Tea Party movement in the long term of American politics. It is more likely that the mark they
leave on American politics has to do with modes of organization and mobilization
of the conservative movement, as a response to the new form of campaign and
voter outreach the Obama organization put into place, than on transformational
policies. The Tea Party movement should then be regarded as a new medium with
an old message.
1. See Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated, in «The New
York Times», April 14, 2010 and Williamson V., Skocpol T., Coggin J., The Tea
Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, in «Perspectives on Politics», vol. 9, no. 1, March 2011, pp. 25–43.
2. Out of the 6 seats the Republicans eventually gained, 3 were gained (out of
6) in a state where the incumbent Democrat had retired, and 3 (out of 13) in a
state where the incumbent was running, confirming that it is much easier to
win an empty seat.
3. Williamson V., Skocpol T., Coggin J., The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, cit.
Gli Stati Uniti nella
Seconda Repubblica, da
Bill Clinton al Tea Party.
Ipotesi di lavoro sull’uso politico
dell’America nell’Italia degli anni
Novanta e Duemila.
Mattia Diletti (Università La Sapienza, Roma)
rede che la morte e le tasse siano le nostre uniche certezze, signor Rearden?
Non posso far niente per combattere la morte, ma se riesco a sollevare il
peso delle tasse, gli uomini possono imparare a vedere il legame che esiste fra le
due cose e a capire quale vita più lunga e più felice sono in grado di crearsi” (da “La
Rivolta di Atlante”, di Ayn Rand).
Con la citazione di Ayn Rand si apre il manifesto del Tea Party Italia1, una piccola associazione che si ispira al più celebre movimento americano. Un’associazione
con le sue sezioni locali, l’abitudine dell’endorsement verso i candidati che sente
vicini (è accaduto in queste elezioni amministrative del 2011, in particolare a Milano) e alcuni punti di riferimento all’interno dell’arena pubblica (giornalisti, riviste,
think tank, politici e blogger).
Quella del Tea Party Italia è solo una delle storie, tra molte altre, che continua
no a raccontarci dell’influenza degli Stati Uniti sull’immaginario politico italiano.
In questi ultimi venti anni – e in particolare negli ultimi tre, dall’inizio della campagna per le presidenziali del 2008 a oggi – sono aumentate in modo esponenziale
sia l’attenzione per quanto accade nel sistema politico americano, sia l’attrazione
dei soggetti politici e sociali per quanto vi si esprime in termini di cultura politica
e forme di organizzazione. Quasi un paradosso: mentre riprende piede il dibattito mondiale e americano sul declino degli Stati Uniti2, l’Italia sembra guardare
all’America più di quanto non facesse nell’epoca della Guerra Fredda, quando le
In alto a destra: simbolo del
movimento “Tea Party Italia“
necessità strategiche rendevano indissolubile il legame politico, strategico e militare senza che questo comportasse “l’americanizzazione” del sistema politico, delle
sue culture e degli strumenti utilizzati nella competizione elettorale.
Henry Kissinger, nelle sue memorie, ricorda come durante gli incontri con
Aldo Moro il suo obiettivo principale fosse quello di riuscire a tenere sveglio il
Presidente del Consiglio e, al tempo stesso, quanto fosse “bizantina” e difficilmente
comprensibile la sintassi complessa e articolata di Moro: due mondi che si sostenevano a vicenda, senza però dover affrontare lo sforzo di doversi piacere davvero. Tale esempio offre quindi un’immagine nitida della distanza antropologica tra
questi due modelli di élite politica, resa ancor più chiara dal racconto di Kissinger
– al limite del comico – della visita italiana di Nixon del 19693 (a partire dalla fatica
del Presidente americano nel comprendere quanto il Primo Ministro fosse solo un
primus inter pares tra notabili dello stesso partito, e non un interlocutore con pieni
poteri di decisione).
Paradossalmente, la fine della Guerra Fredda ha reso gli Stati Uniti un potentissimo magnete politico per la ridefinizione dei modelli di riferimento istituzionali,
politici, culturali e persino di comportamento di una parte consistente della classe
dirigente italiana. Qualcosa che ha a che fare solo in parte con la forza del soft
power americano, e che ci può dire molto sul nostro paese. Non importa quanto
questo processo sia basato su una conoscenza più o meno approfondita degli Usa
e delle sue istituzioni, oppure su una sua rappresentazione approssimativa o semplicemente strumentale. Quello che è certo è il dato: l’America è ancora parte integrante dell’armamentario simbolico e materiale del conflitto politico italiano. Gli
Stati Uniti, nonostante oggi ci si trovi ben oltre il paradigma del bipolarismo degli
anni della Guerra Fredda (quello mondiale e quello “imperfetto” del nostro sistema), sono a tutti gli effetti uno strumento della cassetta degli attrezzi della politica
italiana, con modalità nuove rispetto alla stagione della Repubblica dei Partiti.
Questo intervento si presenta nella forma di una brevissima rassegna
dell’uso politico dell’America nel sistema politico italiano degli ultimi venti anni,
dall’abbraccio della terza via di Clinton al movimento contro le tasse del Tea Party, passando per l’esportazione sempre più massiccia di strumenti istituzionali,
politici e culturali Made in Usa: i think tank, le primarie, la consulenza politica, le
strategie di advocacy dei gruppi di interesse che rappresentano la società civile,
il lobbismo, la personalizzazione della competizione politica, l’uso estensivo del
sondaggio, i modelli di organizzazione del consenso tramite la rete e il web-atti
vismo; infine, l’uso politico dello scandalo e del negative advertising.
In questa sede non è importante comprendere quanto l’applicazione italiana
della politica American Way rispecchi effettivamente il modello originario (sempre
che sia possibile e che abbia senso un’operazione del genere), ma sottolineare piuttosto quanto l’America faccia parte dell’orizzonte della nostra politica – o meglio,
quanto lo sia la rappresentazione e la rielaborazione che ne danno le attuali élite
culturali, politiche e sociali del nostro paese. Questo contributo, che si propone
come il punto di partenza di approfondimenti più ampi ed articolati, vuole intanto
delineare tre sfere di ragionamento: le prime due riguardano le culture politiche
mentre la terza ha a che fare con l’innovazione organizzativa della politica.
L’America della sinistra “modernizzatrice” e globalista
egli ultimi vent’anni gli Stati Uniti sembrano essere diventati l’orizzonte di
riferimento delle classi dirigenti italiane, in particolare di quelle dell’ex partito comunista confluite nel Partito Democratico della Sinistra (poi DS). A fare da
sponda a questo riassestamento ha contribuito l’ascesa politica di Tony Blair in
Gran Bretagna, divenuto il naturale ponte ideologico della creazione di un rapporto
personale e politico tra le leadership delle due sponde dell’Atlantico. Il riferimento
è alla breve stagione del cosiddetto “Ulivo mondiale” (Clinton, Blair, Prodi e poi
D’Alema, Schroeder, Cardoso). In Italia si utilizzò questa definizione giornalistica
quando, nel 1998, era ancora Presidente del Consiglio Romano Prodi. Subentrato nell’incarico Massimo D’Alema, si affiancò
un altro slogan, ovvero
quello del “Riformismo del
XXI secolo”4. A pensarci
bene, salti velocissimi:
se agli inizi degli anni
Novanta la questione era
l’adesione dei post-comunisti all’Internazionale
Socialista, nemmeno dieci anni dopo si gettano
le basi per un auspicato
“riformismo atlantista” al
quale poter fare riferimento (una battuta che circolò
all’epoca vedeva quella
classe dirigente incapace
di sopravvivere senza un
Si trattava di un’operazione per nulla scontata, ovvero la convergenza di culture politiche – quella dei democratici statunitensi e della sinistra europea – storicamente distanti. Scriveva infatti “la Repubblica” nel 1999: “le socialdemocrazie possono far fiorire nel vecchio continente la Nuova Economia (il miracolo
americano di tecnologie e piena occupazione) senza rinunciare ai loro valori?”5.
L’operazione riuscì attraverso una cabina di regia intellettuale – Sid Bluementhal,
Anthony Giddens e David Miliband – e la cabina di regia politica sopra citata, nella
quale l’ingresso di un post-comunista segnava la certificazione completa della fine
dell’anomalia italiana (assieme alla partecipazione di un governo italiano a guida
post-comunista alla Guerra del Kosovo).
In un’epoca di sostanziale crescita economica quelle culture coagularono attorno a una visione comune del fenomeno della globalizzazione, che portò alla
condivisione di alcune politiche di finanza pubblica, del welfare e del lavoro. Quella
essere diventati l’orizzonte
delle classi dirigenti italiane
cultura può essere oggi sintetizzata ricorrendo allo schema di Giuseppe Berta esposto in Eclissi della socialdemocrazia6. In quello schema ipotizzava che se si fosse
data forza e guida “riformista” – un concetto che in realtà va bene agli italiani, ma
non agli americani – al processo di mondializzazione dell’economia, la crescita
economica non avrebbe conosciuto crisi e cicli negativi, perché infinite erano le
sue potenzialità (l’idea di “mercato globale” sembrava rendere autoevidente questa affermazione). Tale pensiero costituì l’assunto principale dei cosiddetti teorici
della terza via, secondo i quali se la globalizzazione era capace di creare ricchezza
senza interruzioni cicliche, il governo aveva il dovere di garantire una forte stabilità economica, sostenendo il ruolo di traino degli operatori del mondo finanziario,
della produzione industriale, dei servizi e delle nuove tecnologie. Il governo doveva dunque fare in modo che l’economia non togliesse il piede dall’acceleratore; il
suo compito verso la società doveva essere quello di garantirle i mezzi, soprattutto
in termini di formazione, per stare al passo con i tempi e con le richieste del mercato del lavoro, sostenendo attraverso il welfare chi proprio non ce la poteva fare.
L’obiettivo fondamentale della politica doveva quindi consistere nell’aiuto
e nel sostegno della società nel suo adattamento all’economia (tramite politiche
adeguate). Tale prospettiva entrò in crisi dopo l’11 settembre – quando si concluse
l’epoca felice della globalizzazione – ma, soprattutto e definitivamente, dopo la
crisi finanziaria del 2008.
Dopo l’11 settembre. L’America dell’identità occidentalista
opo l’11 settembre emerge l’Occidente identitario. Anche in questo caso c’è un
segmento di Italia politica che guarda agli Usa per tentare di riscrivere il codice genetico di una cultura politica. All’ombra del partito personale di Silvio Berlu
sconi si muove un arcipelago vivace e variegato di traduttori del pensiero politico
americano, in particolare di quello neoconservatore (un dibattito che caratterizza
soprattutto la prima parte dei Duemila). Se si fa proprio il paradigma offerto da
Mauro Calise nel suo testo Il partito personale (Calise, 2010)7, la forza carismatica
del leader dovrebbe sopperire alla funzione di collante svolta dalle culture politiche
nell’epoca dei partiti di massa; conseguentemente, dovrebbe essere meno cogente
la necessità di cercare – oltre Oceano o in qualsiasi altro luogo – ancoraggi culturali forti.
Eppure nell’ultimo decennio abbiamo assistito a un fiorire di discussioni tra
fondazioni culturali, testate giornalistiche, intellettuali, blogger e organizzazioni
grassroots (presenti specialmente in rete)8. Forse, così vivace proprio perché non
decisivo da un punto di vista politico e che ha rafforzato una declinazione italiana
del neoconservatorismo americano, sviluppando relazioni solide tra fondazioni e
gruppi italiani e americani. Si pensi, per esempio, al rapporto tra una delle principali fondazioni italiane del centro destra, Magna Carta di Gaetano Quagliariel-
lo, e l’American Enterprise Institute: “L’attacco terroristico dell’11 Settembre 2001,
tragico atto di sfida al mondo occidentale, ha messo in luce tutta l’inadeguatezza
dei paradigmi e dei modelli interpretativi adottati dalle scuole di politica estera
sino ad allora prevalenti in Europa e negli Stati Uniti. La necessità di una rinnovata
concezione della realtà internazionale ha spinto la Fondazione Magna Carta ad
avanzare nuove proposte e chiavi di lettura, d’intesa con il movimento neoconservatore americano. Nella consapevolezza che pace, sicurezza e sviluppo non possono esistere senza democrazia, libertà e rispetto dei diritti umani”9.
Di fronte al nemico e alla minaccia esterna l’identità politica dell’Occidente è
divenuta la pietra angolare della discussione intellettuale interna al centrodestra
italiano ed europeo. In Italia, inoltre, questo dibattito ha favorito la ricollocazione
strategica del Paese rispetto al conflitto israelo-palestinese su posizioni molto simili a quelle del neoconservatorismo americano: l’appello alla difesa dell’Occidente
ha favorito così la rottura della tradizionale politica de “l’equivicinanza” fra israeliani e palestinesi.
Nel corso dei Duemila i punti di contatto con la cultura neoconservatrice
americana si sono moltiplicati: il tema della “vita” (il dibattito sull’aborto) e della
bioetica; un certo populismo antistatalista (il tema della riduzione della pressione
fiscale); la questione della sicurezza. Più in generale, sembra possibile affermare
che tutti coloro i quali abbiano intrapreso la strada della ricerca di un ancoraggio ideologico per il centro-destra italiano abbiano guardato con maggiore attenzione agli Usa che all’Europa (almeno fino alla virata “neo-colbertista” di Giulio
Tremonti). La stella polare è stata l’identità delle società occidentali versus la di
sgregazione generata dai fautori del relativismo culturale (i liberal delle due sponde dell’Atlantico, gli “ideologi del permissivismo” avaloriale di Europa e America),
esattamente come per i neoconservatori americani: non solo un nemico esterno
(il terrorismo), ma anche un nemico interno col quale misurarsi sul senso stesso
del significato di società aperta.
L’America del know how politico-organizzativo
l di là delle culture politiche, è però sul piano delle “tecniche” – istituzionali,
organizzative e del consenso – che l’America ha giocato un ruolo davvero rilevante, in Italia come in Europa (ma le tecniche sono, ovviamente, un portato culturale). Da questo punto di vista la funzione delle culture politiche appare, rispetto
alla Repubblica dei Partiti, fortemente ridimensionata, sia che la si veda dal lato
dell’elettore sia da quello delle leadership politiche.
Ripetiamo l’elenco di quanto è sbarcato in Italia in questi ultimi venti anni:
think tank, primarie, le nuove figure della consulenza politica, le nuove strategie
di advocacy dei gruppi di interesse che rappresentano la società civile, il lobbismo,
la personalizzazione della competizione politica, l’uso estensivo del sondaggio, i
modelli di organizzazione del consenso tramite la rete e il web-attivismo.
La fine dell’età del governo di partito, il rafforzamento dei processi di personalizzazione e mediatizzazione della competizione politica hanno permesso
l’esternalizzazione di funzioni un tempo interne alle macchine di partito (senza
contare il processo di presidenzializzazione degli esecutivi, soprattutto nella dimensione locale, che ha trasformato il rapporto tra eletti e partiti). Non si spiega
altrimenti l’emersione di produttori di idee al di fuori di esse, come i think tank, o
l’uso sistematico dei guru della consulenza politica, soprattutto americani, negli
anni Novanta e nei primi Duemila – come nel caso di Frank Luntz, che inventò
per Berlusconi il famoso “Contratto con gli italiani”, sul modello di quello che egli
aveva costruito per i repubblicani americani nel 199410. Un altro importante sintomo dell’americanizzazione delle tecniche del consenso, è inoltre rappresentato
dall’emersione del lobbismo in Italia, sul quale finalmente si comincia a scrivere
anche da un punto di vista scientifico11, con gli operatori del settore che guardano
tanto all’esperienza americana che a quella dell’Unione Europea (un altro fenomeno che ci interroga sulla trasformazione generali dei partiti e delle istituzioni in
Italia). Ma non si può nemmeno dimenticare la diffusione dei nuovi modelli di
organizzazione grassroots online (da Move.on alla Netroots Nation) utilizzati da
Obama nel campaigning elettorale – fatti propri in Italia da Nichi Vendola, ma
analizzati con attenzione anche da attori politici e della società civile – e, last but
non least, l’introduzione dello strumento delle primarie. Un lungo elenco, una matassa che andrebbe sciolta, con pazienza, filo per filo.
emersione del Tea Party in America ha avuto una certa eco in Europa, non
solo per l’importanza in sé dell’evento, ma anche perché ha fornito ulteriori
spunti su come organizzare la politica, dopo quelli che avevano suggestionato il
Slogan del Partito Democratico
per le elezioni politiche del 2008.
vecchio continente grazie alla vittoria di Obama. È l’ultima sorgente che appaga la sete di ‘America’ dei politici italiani ed europei. Anche se in modo del tutto
estemporaneo, alcuni commentatori hanno visto nel Tea Party un modello organizzativo – un’idea per l’organizzazione della rivolta spontanea, un modo per
trasformare l’antipolitica in consenso – grazie al quale poter scuotere il sistema
politico del nostro continente; mentre altri hanno fatto proprio il simbolo senza
che questo avesse alcuna ricaduta reale12. Al contrario, alcuni commentatori ame
ricani hanno letto la recente emersione dei nuovi partiti nazionalisti e populisti
come la declinazione europea del modello Tea Party: un movimento nato da una
forte insofferenza contro lo stato, le tasse e l’immigrazione13. Risposte di grande
presa in un’epoca di crisi economica.
Gli europei – e gli italiani in particolare – rispondono a questa crisi guardando affascinati alle novità politiche che emergono negli Usa, nonostante questi
ultimi stiano a propria volta attraversando una congiuntura storico-politica particolarmente critica. Per certi versi, come si diceva all’inizio, un vero paradosso.
L’uso strumentale (e quasi compulsivo) dei simboli politici americani da parte della classe politica italiana è un ulteriore segno di questa crisi: dal “Si può fare” di
Walter Veltroni (cattiva traduzione di “Yes, We Can”) all’idea improbabile di un Tea
Party all’italiana, l’impressione è che i soggetti politici della Seconda Repubblica
non riescano a risolvere un’impasse che riguarda le identità politiche e le forme
organizzative. Si continua, però, a fare una disordinata indigestione di immagini,
suggestioni e formule che arrivano da oltre Oceano (e non solo). Intanto, osserviamo trasformazioni reali che cambiano il modo di organizzare e pensare la politica
e le istituzioni, portando nuovi pezzi d’America qui in Italia: che si tratti di buone o
– più spesso – cattive o impossibili traduzioni, il processo è in pieno svolgimento.
1. http://www.teapartyitalia.it/pagina/manifesto. Il manifesto prosegue illu
strando gli obiettivi del movimento: “Il Tea Party è un movimento di donne
e uomini di tutte le età che condividono l’obiettivo di uno stato più leggero,
meno invasivo che sia strumento utile e non ostacolo per il raggiungimento
dei fini individuali. È un movimento politico che non aspira a diventare partito, quanto piuttosto ad imporre dei punti chiave nell’agenda della vita politica
italiana, in una direzione liberale e di buon senso”.
2. Un esempio tra i tanti, il recente intervento di Gideon Rachman su Foreign
american_decline. Si veda anche il breve commento di Mario Del Pero che parte
proprio dall’intervento di Rachman: http://www.aspeninstitute.it/aspeniaonline/article/l%E2%80%99ipotesi-del-declino-americano-e-i-suoi-limiti
3. Kissinger, H., White House Years, Boston, Little Brown and Company, 1979, p.
4. “Il riformismo del XXI secolo – Progressive Governance in XXI Century” è il titolo di una Conferenza internazionale tenutasi a Firenze il 21 novembre 1999,
alla quale parteciparono i leader della sinistra europea e il Presidente degli Stati Uniti Bill Clinton.
6. Berta, G. Eclisse della socialdemocrazia, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2009.
7. Calise, M. Il partito personale, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2010.
8. L’elenco è lungo: tra gli altri, hanno guardato agli Usa e soprattutto alle novità
del neoconservatorismo i think tank Liberal, Magna Carta e la rivista Ideazione;
l’arcipelago intellettuale creatosi attorno al Foglio di Giuliano Ferrara (grazie
anche all’amplificazione online di uno dei più seguiti blog italiani, Camillo,
tenuto dall’ex corrispondente del Foglio Christian Rocca); gli attivisti online di
tocqueville.it e The Right Nation.
10. Nella seconda parte del decennio la quota di professionisti “autoctoni” è decisamente aumentata: vedi a questo proposito Cacciotto, M., Marketing politico, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011.
11. Il riferimento è a Mattina, L., I gruppi d’interesse, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2010.
12. E’ successo per esempio nei dibattiti di Generazione Italia, l’ala movimentista
del nuovo soggetto politico Futuro e Libertà; lo stesso Berlusconi, nell’ottobre
2010, disse che “sarebbe bello avere un Tea Party italiano”.
Il diritto a portare
le armi previsto
degli Stati Uniti
Marco Casagrande (Università degli Studi di Padova)
l II Emendamento alla Costituzione degli Stati Uniti1, rubricato “Right to Bear
Arms”, recita: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free
State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”2. Si tratta
di un diritto piuttosto insolito, probabilmente derivato dagli atti costituzionali britannici dell’epoca3, mentre non se ne rinviene traccia negli strumenti costituzio
nali francesi che influenzarono la Costituzione degli Stati Uniti4.
Ai giorni nostri, il II Emendamento si presta a due letture del tutto opposte. Da
una parte, è forte la tentazione di vedere in esso una norma costituzionale formale,
sopravvissuta alle ragioni storiche che portarono alla sua adozione: la ribellione
armata contro l’Amministrazione coloniale britannica e l’autodifesa armata cui
dovevano spesso ricorrere i coloni sulla Frontiera occidentale5. Dall’altra parte, bisogna confrontarsi con una evidente prassi contemporanea, che vede la vigorosa
difesa del II Emendamento da parte di gruppi conservatori e organizzazioni di lobbying specificamente dedicate. La più famosa di queste organizzazioni è la storica
National Rifle Association of America, fondata nel 18716, che vanta quattro milioni
di iscritti7 su una popolazione totale di circa trecentonove in tutti gli Stati Uniti8.
Questa forte militanza politica in favore del II Emendamento indurrebbe a collocare la norma, viceversa, nell’alveo della costituzione materiale, intesa come quel
complesso di “interessi di cui sono portatori” i “gruppi prevalenti in virtù del potere di fatto esercitato”9.
Per stabilire se nel II Emendamento sia prevalente la natura formale o quella
materiale, si valuterà se gli effetti di questa norma si siano spiegati con maggior
forza sul piano giuridico-formale o sul piano politico-materiale. E’ assolutamente
certo, infatti, che la norma ha ottenuto cospicui effetti, comprimendo notevolmente il potere dei Governi federali e statali10 di limitare il possesso privato di armi.
Secondo le statistiche ufficiali dell’FBI, dal 30 novembre 1998 al 31 marzo 2011 sono
stati chiesti negli Stati Uniti quasi centoventotto milioni di licenze di porto d’armi11;
secondo le ultime stime ufficiali del Ministero della giustizia federale, risalenti al
1997, negli Stati Uniti circolano complessivamente centonovantadue milioni di
armi da fuoco12. Infine, negli Stati Uniti i privati possono acquistare tipologie di
armi a loro assolutamente interdette negli altri Stati, come i fucili mitragliatori13.
I notevoli effetti sopra descritti non possono essere attribuiti al contenuto giuridico-formale del II Emendamento. Per approdare a questa conclusione, non occorre nemmeno fare uso di un’interpretazione evolutiva della norma, finalizzata a
limitare la portata di una disposizione dettata ai tempi della Rivoluzione americana
e della Frontiera. Gli stessi Padri fondatori degli Stati Uniti avevano adottato, nel
formulare il II Emendamento, una posizione più statalista di quanto sembri, collegando il diritto a possedere armi al dovere del cittadino di servire con le armi la
Nazione (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”).
I Padri fondatori intendevano dunque attribuire al cittadino il diritto di portare armi non nell’interesse privato, ma nell’interesse pubblico. Fino all’inizio
del XX secolo, infatti,
statunitense per “Militia”
s’intendevano sia le unità
delle Forze armate organizzate a livello sta
tale, spesso composte
da volontari (“organized
Militia”), sia l’insieme dei
cittadini maschi abili alle
armi (“unorganized Militia”). In uno Stato di recente fondazione come
gli Stati Uniti di primo Ottocento, confinante con
Potenze ostili a Nord (il
Canada britannico) e con
chiari appetiti territoriali a
Ovest14 (forieri di potenziali conflitti non solo con
le nazioni indiane, ma anche con Potenze europee
come la Francia15), la Militia costituiva parte integrante dell’apparato di difesa dello Stato16. Inoltre, gli Stati Uniti avevano ereditato dalla Gran Bretagna l’istituto di
common law del posse comitatus, ossia il potere dello Sceriffo o altra Autorità di
pubblica sicurezza di comandare in servizio i cittadini maschi per il mantenimento dell’ordine pubblico.
La storica ratio pubblicistica del II Emendamento era stata ribadita dalla Corte
Suprema nel caso United States v. Jack Miller, et al. del 193917: “The significance
attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically
capable of acting in concert for the common defense. ‘A body of citizens enrolled
for military discipline.’ And further, that ordinarily when called for service these
men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind
in common use at the time. With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and
Sul piano giuridico-formale, il quadro
render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of
the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that
end in view”18. La Corte in quell’occasione aveva concluso: “In the absence of any
evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of
less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship
to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the
Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument”19.
Questa tradizionale lettura pubblicistica del II Emendamento è stata abbandonata dalla Corte Suprema nel caso District of Columbia, et al. v. Dick Anthony Heller
del 200820. In quell’occasione, la Corte ha formulato il seguente principio di diritto:
“The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home”21. La Corte Suprema ha sentito il bisogno
di aggiungere: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.
It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions
have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion
should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession
of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms
in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing
conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that
the sorts of weapons protected are those ‘in common use at the time’ finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual
Anche questa decisione, pur sconfessando il precedente United States v. Miller, lascia ampi margini per la regolamentazione del possesso d’armi. Sono infatti pacificamente legittime la c.d. “legge Brady”23, una legge federale che impone
agli acquirenti d’armi di chiedere una preventiva autorizzazione amministrativa,
la quale non può essere concessa ai pregiudicati, ai latitanti, ai tossicomani, alle
persone affette da patologie mentali, agli immigrati clandestini, ai congedati con
ignominia dalle Forze armate e ai destinatari di ordinanze restrittive. Il Governo,
sia statale sia federale, può altresì vietare ai privati il commercio e il possesso di
armi diverse da quelle di uso comune: è ancora in vigore, ad esempio, il divieto di
detenere mitragliatrici, emanato a livello federale ai tempi del Proibizionismo24.
Nel 1994, dopo i massacri di California Street, a San Francisco, e di Waco, in Texas,
il divieto venne esteso a tutte le armi d’assalto con una disposizione provvisoria
scaduta nel 200425.
Questa seppur stringata rassegna della giurisprudenza e della prassi consente di trarre alcune conclusioni. Innanzitutto, il II Emendamento alla Costituzione degli Stati Uniti non è un retaggio storico nato in un’epoca anarchica e
pioneristica, e destinato a ricevere un’evoluzione progressivamente restrittiva,
man mano che la società americana si allontana dal contesto in cui fu redatto. Al
contrario, il II Emendamento è nato con una formulazione prudente, e ha subito
un’interpretazione progressivamente estensiva, almeno nella giurisprudenza della Corte Suprema.
Sul piano giuridico-formale, il II Emendamento impedisce al Governo federale
e agli Stati federati esclusivamente di vietare in modo incondizionato le armi di
uso comune, il cui possesso può comunque essere sottoposto ad autorizzazioni,
controlli preventivi e limitazioni. Il quadro che se ne ricava, in ultima analisi, non
è più permissivo di quello contenuto nel Regolamento di Pubblica Sicurezza ita
liano26. Quest’ultimo è stato emanato in piena epoca fascista27, nell’imperio di una
concezione dei rapporti fra Stato e cittadino assolutamente antitetica rispetto a
quella statunitense: eppure, anche il Regolamento di Pubblica Sicurezza consente
il porto di “armi comuni da sparo”, non necessariamente di piccolo calibro, previa
autorizzazione dell’Autorità di Pubblica Sicurezza28.
L’elevato numero di armi da difesa e d’assalto circolanti sul territorio degli Stati
Uniti deriva allora soprattutto dalla forza che il precetto contenuto nel II Emendamento ha sul piano politico-materiale. Non a caso, questo precetto tende ad essere
fatto valere e ad imporsi con mezzi prevalentemente extragiuridici: il lobbying da
parte di organizzazioni specificamente deputate29, che risulta in un self-restraint
nell’esercizio dei poteri regolatori del
Governo federale, perfettamente incarnato dalla temporaneità del bando delle
armi d’assalto introdotto nel 1994 a seguito di pur gravissimi fatti di cronaca30.
Nell’ottica di possibili sviluppi futuri, se è soprattutto sul piano politico
che va valutata la forza del precetto
contenuto nel II Emendamento, occorre rilevare che questa norma sembra
aver conservato intatta la sua capacità
di imporre un notevole self-restraint
al Governo federale, come dimostra la
mancata introduzione di nuove norme
restrittive dopo la recente sparatoria di
Tucson. L’8 gennaio 2011 a Tucson, in
Arizona, Jared L. Loughner ha aperto
il fuoco, per motivi non chiari, contro
il comizio della deputata democratica
Gabrielle Giffords, usando una pistola
Attivista pro-armi davanti alla Corte suprema in occasione
della pronuncia della sentenza DC v. Heller, 18 marzo 2008.
d’ultima generazione con caricatore a trentatré colpi e uccidendo otto persone,
compreso il Presidente del Tribunale federale per l’Arizona. Dopo la sparatoria, il
Partito democratico ha proposto il divieto di commercializzazione dei caricatori
ad alta capacità, ma non ha ottenuto un chiaro appoggio dall’Amministrazione
Sulla questione del controllo delle armi, l’attuale Amministrazione federale
ha appunto mantenuto una posizione ondivaga e ambigua, attirandosi le critiche
tanto delle organizzazioni fautrici di un’interpretazione estensiva del II Emendamento, quanto di quelle fautrici di un’interpretazione restrittiva32.
Forse, come spesso accade, la verità sta nel mezzo. Durante un dibattito organizzato dal Partito democratico a Las Vegas nel 2008, Obama si è espresso chiaramente a favore della c.d. “common-sense doctrine”, al pari dell’attuale Segretario di
Stato Hillary Rodham Clinton33. La common-sense doctrine, delineata in un famoso libro blu34 dell’associazione Mayors against illegal guns (MAIG)35, predica una
politica di controllo degli armamenti concentrata, almeno nella fase iniziale, sulla
correzione di prassi amministrative distorte a livello federale e statale, piuttosto
che sull’approvazione di nuove leggi, puntualmente resa vana dalle lobby come
l’NRA. Nel suo libro blu, la MAIG rileva come l’applicazione delle leggi federali e
statali vigenti sul controllo delle armi sia frustrata dal mancato coordinamento fra
le Amministrazioni competenti, da tagli di bilancio, prassi lassiste e mancanza di
“National Drive to Fix Gun Checks”, iniziativa promossa da MAIG per sensibilizzare
l’opinione pubblica sulle morti da arma da fuoco. Il dato si riferisce al 7 aprile 2011.
La fortuna che ultimamente sta riscuotendo la common-sense doctrine è si
gnificativa sotto due profili. In primo luogo, essa presenta certe analogie con la
prassi internazionalistica del soft law, consistente nell’adozione di atti non vinco
lanti. Gli atti di soft law sono spesso adottati appunto per conseguire risultati pra
tici e immediati, superando le resistenze politiche degli Stati: il che conferma come
sia eminentemente politico l’ostacolo frapposto dal II Emendamento al controllo
In secondo luogo, l’auspicio della doctrine che vengano instaurate buone
pratiche amministrative nel controllo degli armamenti dimostra come gli ostacoli
a quest’ultimo negli Stati Uniti vengano dal basso, da una certa sensibilità (o insensibilità) diffusa nelle law enforcement agencies.
In conclusione, anche l’esame degli ultimi sviluppi del dibattito politicogiuridico sul controllo degli armamenti degli Stati Uniti sembrano rafforzare
l’attribuzione al II Emendamento di una natura prevalentemente materiale.
1. Com’è noto, la Costituzione degli Stati Uniti si compone di un preambolo,
sette articoli e ventisette emendamenti, i primi dieci dei quali formano la c.d.
“Carta dei diritti” (Bill of Rights). Eventuali conflitti fra articoli ed emendamenti
vanno risolti secondo il criterio cronologico.
2. Cfr. l’identica formulazione della Sec. 9(13) della Costituzione degli Stati Confederati d’America. Nessuna disposizione simile, invece, si rinviene negli Articles of Confederation, che però hanno la diversa finalità di regolare i rapporti
fra Unione e Stati federati.
3. Il Bill of Rights britannico del 1689 riconosceva ai sudditi protestanti il diritto
di possedere armi a scopo di difesa, seppure nei limiti consentiti dalla legge
(“as allowed by law”). Diametralmente opposta la posizione dell’ordinamento
giuridico britannico contemporaneo: v. Firearms Act 1968, testo consolidato,
4. La Dichiarazione dei diritti dell’uomo e del cittadino del 1789 riconosce solo
un generico diritto di resistenza contro l’oppressione (art. II). La Costituzione
francese del 1791 riconosce ai cittadini il diritto di riunione “senz’armi” (Titolo
I). La prima Costituzione rivoluzionaria del 1793, incentrata sui diritti collettivi
piu’ che su quelli individuali, si limita a enumerare i diritti riconosciuti al cittadino senza specificarli (“Sulla garanzia dei diritti”).
5. Esiste un preciso nesso fra l’autodifesa armata che i coloni praticavano lungo
la Frontiera e la loro indipendenza di spirito rispetto alle Autorità coloniali.
Non casualmente, la Royal Proclamation del 7 ottobre 1763 di Re Giorgio III
del Regno Unito vietava le attività di colonizzazione senza il beneplacito della
Corona nel Nordamerica Britannico; proprio per questo la Royal Proclamation
divenne una delle cause scatenanti della Rivoluzione americana.
6. Sito ufficiale: www.nra.org. In parziale dissenso rispetto alla NRA, considerata
sotto alcuni aspetti troppo moderata, è stata fondata nel 1975 la Gun Owners of
America (sito ufficiale: www.gunowners.org).
7. Fonte: sito ufficiale dell’Institute for Legislative Action della National Rifle Association of America, www.nraila.org.
8. Fonte: sito ufficiale dello U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov.
9. C. Mortati, voce Costituzione dello Stato, in «Enciclopedia del Diritto», Vol. IX,
Giuffrè, Milano, 1962.
10. Nel caso Otis McDonald, et al. v. City of Chicago, Illinois, et al., U.S. Supreme
Court, 130 S.Ct. 3020 (2010), la Corte Suprema ha chiarito che il II Emendamento rientra nel campo d’applicazione della c.d. “incorporation doctrine”, e
pertanto può essere invocato anche contro gli Stati federati.
11. Fonte: sito ufficiale dell’FBI, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics .
12. P. J. Cook-J. Ludwig, Guns in America: national survey on private ownership
and use of firearms, in “National Institute of Justice – Research in brief”, Maggio 1997.
13. Si veda, a titolo meramente esemplificativo, il catalogo del portale “TheGunSource”, gestito dalla società TGSCOM, Inc. del Wisconsin, www.thegunsource.
14. V. supra, nota 5.
15. Fino al 1803, la Francia era la Potenza coloniale presente in Louisiana, che verrà acquistata in quell’anno dagli Stati Uniti.
16. Non a caso, l’unica disposizione vagamente simile al II Emendamento alla
Costituzione degli Stati Uniti si rinviene nell’art. 107, par. 1 della Costituzione
federale della Confederazione Svizzera, che adotta ai giorni nostri un modello
di difesa militare diffusa simile a quello degli Stati Uniti delle origini. L’art. 107,
par. 1 prevede che la Confederazione emani prescrizioni esclusivamente contro “l’abuso” di armi, accessori di armi e munizioni.
17. 307 US 174 (1939).
18. Par. 178.
20. 554 US 570 (2008).
21. Punto 1 sentenza.
22. Punto 2 sentenza.
23. Public Law 103–179. La legge porta il nome di Sarah Brady, la sua promotrice,
e del marito di lei, John Brady. John Brady era l’addetto stampa del Presidente
Reagan, prima di essere ucciso a colpi di revolver dallo psicolabile John Hinck-
ley jr., che intendeva colpire il Presidente, il 30 marzo 1981.
US Code, Title 18, §. 922(o)(1).
Si trattava del Title XI, Subtitle A, Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement
Act, Public Law 103–322.
Emanato con Regio Decreto 6 maggio 1940, n. 635.
Il Regolamento può anzi essere considerato una legge cardine del fascismo,
essendo un complemento del Testo Unico delle leggi di Pubblica Sicurezza
(T.U.L.P.S.), che conteneva la disciplina del c.d. “confino di polizia”.
Artt. 44 ss. Per espressa disposizione del Regolamento, fra le “armi comuni da
sparo” rientrano le pistole, anche automatiche, e i fucili, anche a più canne o
a canna rigata.
A questa attività di lobbying non si contrappongono per il momento organizzazioni di pari importanza che siano favorevoli al controllo delle armi:
la principale organizzazione di questo tipo, la Brady Campaign, promotrice
dell’omonima legge, aveva nel 2010 poco più di cinquantamila membri rispetto ai quattro milioni della NRA (fonte: lista iscritti 2010, acquistabile sul portale
“Mailing list finder”, http://lists.nextmark.com/).
Nel massacro di California Street del 1° luglio 1993, un cliente insoddisfatto
fece irruzione in uno studio legale di San Francisco armato di due mitragliette
e una pistola, uccidendo otto persone prima di suicidarsi. Nella crisi di Waco,
durata dal 28 febbraio al 19 aprile 1993, i membri di una setta si asserragliarono
nel Mount Carmel Center di Waco, armati con armi da guerra. Il 19 aprile, dopo
il fallimento dei tentativi di negoziato, l’FBI attaccò il centro utilizzando blindati e armi pesanti; l’assalto costò settantaquattro vittime.
A. Altman, Why Obama’s silence on gun control pleases no one, in «The Times»,
7 Febbraio 2011.
Al Presidente in carica Barack Obama la NRA ha addirittura dedicato un’apposita
pagina denigratoria sul proprio sito ufficiale: http://www.nraila.org/obama/.
La Brady Campaign, dal canto suo, il 19 gennaio 2010 ha rilasciato a proposito del Presidente Obama un comunicato stampa, eloquentemente intitolato
“Weaker gun laws, lack of leadership earn President Obama a failing grade”.
La trascrizione integrale del dibattito è riportata sul New York Times del 15
Sito ufficiale: www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/home/home.shtml.
All’associazione aderiscono, a titolo personale, numerosi primi cittadini ame
ricani, fra cui il Sindaco Antonio Villaraigosa di Los Angeles, il Sindaco Jerry
Saunders di San Diego, il Sindaco Guillermo V. Vidal di Denver, il Sindaco Tomas Regalado di Miami, il Sindaco Buddy Dyer di Orlando, il Sindaco Kasim
Reed di Atlanta, il Sindaco Peter B. Carlisle di Honolulu, il Sindaco Richard
Daley di Chicago, il Sindaco Melvin Holden di Baton Rouge, il Sindaco Mitchell J. Landrieu di New Orleans, il Sindaco Stephanie Rawlings-Blake di Baltimora, il Sindaco Tom Menino di Boston, il Sindaco Dave Bing di Detroit, il
Sindaco Mark Funkhouser di Kansas City, il Sindaco Francis Slay di St. Louis, il
Sindaco David Coss di Santa Fe, il Sindaco Michael R. Bloomberg di New York,
il Sindaco Mark Mallory di Cincinnati, il Sindaco Frank Jackson di Cleveland,
il Sindaco Michael Nutter di Philadelphia, il Sindaco Angel Taveras di Providence, il Sindaco Joseph Riley di Charleston, il Sindaco A.C. Wharton di Memphis, il Sindaco Dwight C. Jones di Richmond, il Sindaco Robert F. Sheckler
di Des Moines, il Sindaco Mike McGinn di Seattle e il Sindaco Tom Barrett di
Seminar for Young
Roma 14–15 ottobre 2010
ubblichiamo gli abstract delle relazioni e i curricula dei giovani americanisti
che sono intervenuti al seminario internazionale organizzato dal CISPEA in
collaborazione con il CSA di Roma lo scorso ottobre.
Indice degli abstract
e dei curricula
Alessandra Bitumi p. 31
Cristina Bon p. 38
Mariadele di Blasio p. 45
Fulvio Drago p. 50
Nicolas-Martin Breteau p. 55
Malia McAndrew p. 64
Marie Plassart p. 69
Matteo Pretelli p. 73
Andreas Riffel p. 79
Ezra Tessler p. 88
Thi Diem Ngoc Dao p. 91
Jean-Baptiste Velut p. 97
The European Union Visitors
Program: public diplomacy in
the transatlantic crisis of the
Seventies. In search of a European
Within the major field of Diplomatic History, my focus is on European public diplomacy and the transatlantic crisis of the Seventies. At a time when the future of
the Atlantic alliance seemed to be at stake, the European Community deeply discussed ways in which support for the troubled partnership could be bolstered. The
aim of my study is to investigate one particular way, namely the launch, in 1974, of
the European Union Visitors Program (EUVP – once ECVP), one of the oldest and
most explicit examples of EU’s public diplomacy.
In the last decade or so, a number of worthy studies have been conducted
on Public Diplomacy and its role in international relations (Cull, 2006, 2008); (De
Gouveia-Plumridge, 2005); (Ninkovich, 1981, 1996, 2001); (Arndt, 2007) and, more
interestingly, there is a growing literature on educational exchanges. From a historical point of view, increasing attention has been devoted to examine the origins and the significance of US exchange programs and accounts exist of their
historical development and institutional apparatus. The Fulbright Program has
itself generated worthwhile studies ( Arndt, 1987, 1993, 2007); (Johnson and Colligan, 1965), and there are several others on the State Department’s Foreign Leader
Grant (Arndt, 2007); (Richmond, 2003); (Scott-Smith, 2008). However there is an
alarming lack of in-depth accounts of public diplomacy projects as far as Europe
is concerned. It there is some knowledge of the Member States’ programs, there is
no large amount of historical researches focusing specifically on the EC/EU public diplomacy. Indeed, the only study that was carried out on the European Union
Visitors Program is the pamphlet by G. Scott-Smith, written on the occasion of the
30th EUVP Anniversary, in 2004.
Therefore, my project aims at contributing to fill the vacuum of historical studies in this particular field.
My research concentrates on the origins and the development of this first educational exchange program set up by the EC. Originated as an initiative of the European Parliament, it has been jointly administered by both the Parliament and the
Commission since 1974. Originally, the Program aimed at fostering understanding
of the EC in the US in order to bridge the transatlantic “knowledge gap” at a time
when the future of the Atlantic alliance was seriously challenged. The ECVP consisted of fellowships awarded to selected American candidates who were invited to
Europe on a study mission. Unlike most European exchange programs, the ECVP
was not academically focused but rather addressing young professionals who were
potentially in a position to exert some influence in the governmental field, such as
officials, journalists and trade unionists, just like early US programs (Marshall Plan;
Productivity Drive etc.). The goal was to identify, establish and maintain “useful
contacts” with rising leaders that could make a contribution towards establishing
a transatlantic “community of values and understanding”. The rationale behind
such an objective was based on the belief that the rift between the US and Europe
was partly due to different interpretative paradigms that impaired them to understand each other’s reasons and positions. Therefore, the establishment of a large
community of people actively engaged in a constructive mutual dialogue would
serve the purpose of laying the ground for a common thinking thus for finding
smooth solutions to the crisis. These theoretical assumptions on the benefits of
spreading knowledge to promote understanding and gain influence are explicitly
drawn by the practice gained by American public diplomacy. In fact, the ECVP
was modeled on some of the most prestigious and sought-after US grants, i.e. the
Fulbright Program and the International Visitors Program but, despite the efforts,
the EC’ s model proved to be limited in scope and unable to fulfill its potential. Although it has expanded considerably since 1974, engaging more than 70 countries
today, its development has gone more in an “enlargement” direction rather than
in a “deepening” one. Priority has been given to the geographical expansion of
the program, overlooking its side effects and the negative impact on the quality
of the visits. The lack of resources and infrastructural support, the inefficient coordination between the Parliament and the Commission, the lack of political will
to invest in such diplomatic tools have prevented the EUVP from becoming significantly effective. This petite histoire allows a reflection about the international
identity of the EU since it shows the gap between ambitions and fulfillment, hence
highlights the unsatisfactory performance of the Union vis à vis its high goals.
Nonetheless, the EUVP hasn’t been too modest a program to claim historical
importance. The narrative of its background and of its development sheds light on
interrelated aspects of the forming international identity of the European Union,
which I intend to investigate.
The goal of the research is threefold:
• To point out the reciprocal intellectual influence between the US and Europe
close at hand. It examines the impact American public diplomacy has had in
shaping the political culture of Europe at a time when anti-Americanism was
tangible in Europe and was paralleled by growing anti-European sentiments
in the United States. The transatlantic relationship proved to be the framework
within which the definition of self was possible, or at least, was started. In such
a dialectical relation, the EC could sketch its identity proving to be something
different, without denying the existence of a common cultural matrix.
• To account for and assess the contribution of the European Parliament to the
overall strengthening of the European Community and, above all, to the visibility of its external action. Indeed, the ECVP stands for the incipient effort of
the Parliament to match the ambition of the EC to strengthen its internal unity
and project itself on the international stage speaking with one voice. After the
Hague Conference, a new balance of power within the Institutions’ system
was hardly but tirelessly sought after. In this sense, the Visitors program mirrors the political will of the Assembly to gain space and influence, regardless of
the heavy obstructionism from the Commission. The Program is at the cross
road between two intertwining policies: that of the external relations and the
policy of information and communication. In order to support the gradual development of the EC into a global actor, an international acknowledgment was
all the more needed and it was agreed it could be achieved also through the
establishment of a network of contacts who served as “information multipliers”. Such an initiative came from the Parliament, which not only stressed the
importance for the EC to engage in a public exposure but also singled out the
US as the major partner to address. Given the breadth and depth of the critics
coming from the ally, the Parliament considered fundamental to prevent the
Atlantic bond from weakening irreversibly. The Commission of the EC was
then asked to join in and it finally did in 1974. To date, the EUVP is the only
program sponsored and administered jointly by both Institutions on an equal
• To provide some critical reflections about the “cultural capital and drawing
power” of Europe for other nations and individuals and to analyze, from this
perspective, the quality and the efficacy of the EC/EU public diplomacy instruments. Despite their acknowledgement, they often remain underused.
The research develops in three stages, taking into account different dimensions.
• ECVP was originally understood as a contribution given by the Parliament to
the relaxation of tensions between the US and the EC. The transatlantic crisis
is the starting point of the research. The traditional analysis of economic factors, as well as the examination of strategic and political issues will enable to
understand the nature of the crisis, thus the meaning of the political and intellectual debate within the US and Europe over the supposed end of atlanticism.
The importance attached to the maintenance of the Atlantic community by
the Parliament, albeit nuancé by the ambition of stressing the autonomy of the
growing EC, is worth of narration.
• The second level of analysis is less broad and focuses on the project through
the description of its background and functioning. Already in 1972, a delegation from the European Parliament went to Washington paving the way to the
official establishment of regular contacts between Congressmen and MEPs.
The positive personal relationships, the special commitment of some Senators such as Ben Rosenthal and Donald Frazer, the contribution of Ambassador
Schaetzel helped the Europeans set up the Program. Once the Commission
decided to share responsibility with the Parliament in a joint steering committee, the ECVP was launched. The research will monitor its development.
• Finally, the debate over the American public diplomacy will help to identify
the influence it has played in shaping some aspects of the European political
culture. A considerable influence on the ECVP’s development was played by
the practice gained by American public diplomacy itself.
Sources and State of advancement of my research
Starting from the secondary literature on the topic, the study is based on an extensive research in several North-American and European Archives above all for what
concerns the more specific aspects of the program and its background. Among the
principal archives, there are the Historical Archives of the European Union (Florence), le Centre Archivistique et Documentaire du Parlement Européen (CARDOCLuxembourg), the Archives of the European Commission and of the Secretariat of
the EUVP in Brussels, the Archives of the Delegation of the European Commission
in Washington D.C., the J.R. Schaetzel Papers collected at the Dwight Eisenhower
Library, Abilene, Kansas. Other relevant collections are the Nixon Presidential Materials (National Archives, College Park) and the Council on Foreign Relations Collection (Princeton).
Likewise, oral history can give a sensible contribution to the research. I have
already interviewed: Mr. Eduardus van Koolwijk, Head of EUVP Secretariat and
Théo Junker, Honorary General Director of the European Parliament, member
of the Steering Committee of the ECVP from 1974 to 2001; : Mario Castillo (EUVP
visitor); Edward Flatteau (trial visitor); Clifford Hackett (trial visitor); Ella Krucoff
(EU Delegation, Washington); Alan Platt (trial visitor); Ingrid Rose ( EU Delegation,
Washington); Glenda Rosenthal (Visiting Scholar at the Centre for European and
Mediterranean Studies, NYU; she used to work for the EC Information Office in NY
in the Sixties and Seventies); Robert Whiteman (Senior Advisor; Congressional and
Parliamentary Liaison; Delegation of the European Commission).
The research is completed and I am currently writing my dissertation; however, since I have been awarded a Fulbright-Schuman fellowship for research at
the Woodrow Wilson International Center, I am going to keep on working on the
same subject, at least for other six months.
Significance and originality
The European Union Visitors Program is at the cross road between two intertwining policies: that of the EU’s external relations and the policy of information and
communication. Carrying out a comprehensive study on such a flexible tool for
projecting the EU as an international actor may be highly relevant both from an
academic and a professional point of view.
As far as the historical research is concerned, if the research on US programs
can boast of remarkable studies, the knowledge of European initiatives is incomplete. In this sense, and to a certain extent, my work would start filling the gap
and account for the efforts made by the EC/EU in the public diplomacy field. Professionally it may offer insights into a program that is still working but could be
managed in a more efficient way to the benefit of Europe and the international
community. Still today, the way Europe communicates with the world is often atomized and disjointed, thus ineffective. Its external action has been compromised
both by its reluctance to engage pro-actively with foreign publics and its failure to
communicate an accessible message to foreign elites. It is very much so not only
today and with regards to third-countries that don’t share the same cultural matrix, instead these problems are rooted in the past as it is proved by the difficulties
affecting even the special relationship with its historical ally, the USA.
It is clear that though cooperation between governments is essential to address major challenges, even the most carefully crafted policies are unlikely to succeed in practice without the support of publics. My research could provide policymakers with a reliable source of information shedding light on past achievements
as well as on the limits of some of the EU’s communication strategies that would
facilitate and drive improvement.
Arndt, R., The First Resort of Kings. American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth
Century, Washington DC, Potomac Books, Inc, 2005.
Arndt, R., Rubin, D. L., The Fulbright Difference, 1948–1992, New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers, 1993.
Aubourg, V., Bossuat, G., Scott-Smith, G., European Community, Atlantic Community?, Paris, Èditions Soleb, 2008.
Guasconi M.E., L’Europa tra Continuità e Cambiamento. Il vertice dell’Aja del 1969 e
il rilancio della costruzione europea, Firenze, Edizioni Polistampa, 2004.
Lundestad, G., The United States and Western Europe since 1945: from “Empire” by
invitation to the transatlantic drift, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005.
Mariano, M. (ed), Defining the Atlantic Community. Culture, Intellectuals, and Policies in the Mid-Twentieth Century, New York, Routledge, 2010.
Ninkovich, F. A., U.S. Information Policy and Cultural Diplomacy, New York, NY,
Foreign Policy Association 1996.
Riordan, S., The New Diplomacy, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2003.
Scott-Smith,G., Mending the Unhinged Alliance in the 1970’s: Transatlantic Relations, Public Diplomacy, and the Origins of the European Union Visitors Programme, in «Diplomacy and Statescraft», vol. 16, n. 14, December 2005.
Scott-Smith, G., Krabbendam, H.(eds.), The Cultural Cold War in Western Europe
1945–1960, London, Frank Class, 2003.
Scott-Smith, G., Networks of Empire. The US State Department’s Foreign Leader
Program in the Netherlands, France and Britain 1950–70, Brussels, P.I.E. Peter
Scott-Smith, G., An Outpost of Atlanticism: Leonard Tennyson, the European Delegation in Washington and the Transformation of US-European Relations 19541974, in «Journal of European Integration History», vol. 14, n. 2, December
Teaching Assistant, History of European Integration, University of Bologna
PhD candidate in History of European Integration, University of Pavia, Italy. Dissertation title: “The European Union Visitors Program: Public Diplomacy in the
Transatlantic Crisis of the ‘70s. In search of a European Identity”.
MA Degree in International and Diplomatic Studies, University of Bologna, Facoltà
di Scienze Politiche R. Ruffilli Forlì campus: 110/110 cum laude. Dissertation title:
“The bullet and the ballot: la storia d’Irlanda tra guerra e politica”.
BA Degree in International and Diplomatic Studies at the University of Bologna,
Facoltà di Scienze Politiche R. Ruffilli Forlì campus: 110/110 cum laude. Dissertation title: “La dottrina Bush e la guerra al terrore: implicazioni e reazioni da parte
della comunità internazionale”.
Fellowships – Membership:
November 2010–April 2011
Fulbright-Schuman Fellowship. Public Policy Scholar, History and Public Policy
Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center, Washington DC.
Eisenhower Travel Grant awarded by the Eisenhower Presidential Library for research at the Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas.
AUSE, Associazione Universitaria Studi Europei.
PhD Scholarship awarded by the University of Pavia.
Fellowship awarded by the University of Bologna, Forlì campus, for MA thesis research in Northern Ireland.
Bitumi, A., The European Integration Process and the Transatlantic Relations, Palgrave, Bruxelles, forthcoming.
Bitumi, A., Obama e il vecchio continente: storia di un cambiamento, in «Imago
Europae», anno III, n. 8,October-December 2009.
Bitumi, A., Il Parlamento Europeo nella crisi transatlantica, in A. Bitumi, G. D’Ottavio,
G. Laschi (edited by), La Comunità Europea e le relazioni esterne 1957-1992,
Bologna, CLUEB, 2008, pp. 65-85.
and the origins of secession in
Virginia, Georgia and Mississippi
The project I intend to submit for the “Second International Research Seminar for
Young Americanists” builds upon my 2010 Ph.D. dissertation, whose title is: “A Secession Driven by Conventions: Constitutional Developments in the Antebellum
My research focuses on changes in the institutions of the southern states during the first half of the nineteenth century and through the Secession movement
and the making of the Confederate States of America. I have already investigated
the processes of constitutional revision that characterized the different states in
the U.S. South in the decades before the Civil War. My main objective has been to
highlight the social struggle that was at the heart of the attempts to create an increasingly more democratic representative system at the state level, while showing
how the nature of this social conflict related to the particular socio-economic and
geographic background that characterized each state within the South in its own
way. By linking firmly the socio-economic features of the southern states with
the different phases of their constitutional development, I intend to offer a novel
contribution to the study of the origins of Secession as a logical consequence, in
different ways and degrees, of the particular path that the southern states’ political
institutions had taken since the revolutionary era and throughout the antebellum
The First Step in my Research Project: The Ph.D. Dissertation
I had originally conceived my Ph.D. dissertation as the first of a series of comparative case-studies focusing on the institutions of different southern states, and I
decided to begin my analysis by comparing constitutional developments in two
particularly significant states: Virginia and Georgia. Both these states are part of
the same broad southern Atlantic zone and share a number of similarities in their
colonial background; at the same time, the differences between them are highlighted by the fact that, geographically and culturally, they belong also to two distinctive southern regions: the Upper South and the Lower South. Also, the histori-
cal importance of Virginia and Georgia within the South, and within the United
States, is beyond doubt, given the prestige they always enjoyed among southern
states from the revolutionary period to the Civil War. All these factors led me to
choose Virginia and Georgia for my first comparative case-study.
In my study, I first highlighted the arguments involved in the debates on constitutional revisions in Virginia and Georgia in the 1830s, showing how slavery
was an issue always present in the disputes over the representative process. Then,
I sought to link the results of my analysis with the attempt by the southern states to
create a common movement in support of the doctrine of states’ rights during the
Crisis of 1850; therefore, the last chapter in my Ph.D. dissertation focuses specifically on the analysis of the southern states’ involvement – in terms of both organization and participation – in the 1850 Nashville Convention, which sought to create a first supra-state organization in the South. My analysis has concluded that, if
we consider the different degree of involvement showed by Virginia and Georgia
in the 1850 movement for southern unity, we can see a clear connection between
their effective participation to the movement and their internal debates over the
representative system. In Virginia, from the summer of 1850, the issue of constitutional revision dominated the debates within the public opinion; conversely, in
Georgia the main arguments over constitutional revisions had ended in the early
1840s, and, therefore, the state showed a greater degree of consistency in her attitude toward both the southern movement for unity and the Federal Government.
The Second Step in my Research Project
The second step in my research project builds upon the important foundations I
lay with my Ph.D., but expands its scope in both geographical and temporal terms:
on one hand, I intend to introduce another state – specifically Mississippi – in my
case-study in order to extend my comparative analysis to those southern states
admitted into the Union after the ratification of the Constitution; on the other
hand, I intend to extend also the time framework in order to include the Secession
movement that began with the 20th December, 1860 South Carolina Ordinance of
Secession and the subsequent creation of the Confederate States of America in the
course of 1861.
My rationale for introducing Mississippi in my case-studies is based, first and
foremost, on the fact that it was a state whose settlement was more recent than
that of Atlantic states such as Virginia and Georgia; in fact, Mississippi is located
in what used to be the frontier of the cotton-producing region – the most fertile
area of the South – for most of the antebellum period. As a result of Mississippi’s
early heavy involvement in cotton agriculture – and, therefore, in slavery – the
state’s politics were dominated, already from the early nineteenth century, by a
strong planter elite. At the same time, though, Mississippi’s position on the south-
western frontier of the United States meant that the state’s political culture also
shared some of the features of the radical democratic tradition that characterized
the states of the American West. Both these aspects make Mississippi an important
case-study, which will enrich my analysis a great deal, given the similarities and
differences with Virginia and Georgia.
My study will focus specifically both on the Secession Conventions and on the
Montgomery Convention, through which southern politicians founded the Confederate States of America (CSA). By providing a narrative of continuity – beginning from the revolutionary period’s Provisional Congress through the antebellum Constitutional Convention and then the Nashville Convention, and finally to
the Secession Conventions of 1860–61 – my work intends to show how the Convention was central in the process of institutional development, and also how the
Convention was a peculiarly American tradition in nineteenth-century politics –
an important point that historians and political analysts have mostly overlooked
so far. Through a comparison between the developments of political institutions
in three representative states of the Upper South, Lower South, and Deep South –
all contextualized within their specific socio-economic backgrounds – I intend to
provide a comprehensive history of the Convention as a crucial instrument in the
institutional developments of the southern states, and ultimately in the making of
the Secession movement and of the Confederate States of America.
Overall Aim and Context of the Research Project
Overall, my research project has three main aims. Firstly, it seeks to introduce a
novel perspective in the study of American institutional history, by focusing specifically on state constitutional development. Scholars have tended so far to be
mostly interested in institutions at the federal level. Instead, by adopting a perspective focusing on the state, it is possible to have a better understanding of how
the local political development impacted on the federal structure as a whole.
Secondly, in doing this, my study intends to discuss specifically the historical
development of the constitutional Convention in the southern states through the
antebellum and Civil War period. During the revolutionary era, each of the thirteenth colonies adopted provisional constitutions, which were then subjected to
further norms that included the possibility of revisions and amendments. During
the antebellum era, then, the states that formed the Union experienced a period
of constitutional reform. As a result, in a number of occasions, delegates gathered
in constitutional conventions in order to discuss and, if necessary, approve the
proposed revisions. By studying the dynamics through which the constitutional
Conventions responded to social and political pressures in the process of revising
the Constitution, I intend to highlight the crucial significance of the Convention
as an instrument of institutional change.
Thirdly, my analysis of the Convention intends to show that it is possible to
gain particularly significant insights in the two most crucial moments of political
conflict of the late antebellum era: the Crisis of 1850 and the Secession movement.
In both cases, the Conventions emerged as leading institutional forces behind the
movements in the defense of southern states’ rights. However, while in 1850 the
movement initiated by the Conventions did not result in the formation of a lasting southern political compact, in 1861 the opposite occurred with the formation
of the Confederate States of America. My analysis will look at these two events in
diachronic comparative fashion in order to contribute to an understanding of the
reasons why secession occurred in 1861 and not in 1850.
The Convention is the key to my claim because of the central role it played
in constitutional revisions, and in general in the politics of the Southern states
throughout the antebellum period. My focus on Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi
as representative states of different regions of the South accounts for the widespread diversity in southern constitutional revision processes. Looking at the institutions of these three states from a comparative perspective, we can observe
similar constitutional developments punctuated by significant differences, specifically in regards to the reforms of the representative system. During the entire
antebellum period, in conjunction with the main political crises in the federal system, changes occurred in the socio-economic texture of the three states that were
reflected in different types of constitutional revisions. Therefore, it is vitally important to study the social-economic background of these constitutional changes,
which varies whether one looks at Virginia, Georgia, or Mississippi, as a result of
the different historical trajectories and formations of the two master classes. On
one hand, both Virginia and Georgia are Atlantic states whose settlement goes as
far back as the pre-revolutionary period, unlike Mississippi whose settlement began in the early nineteenth century. On the other hand, significant differences in
the patterns of composition of the slaveholding elites arose as a result of the market revolution beginning from the first decades of the nineteenth century. As a
consequence of these changes, throughout the antebellum period, Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi faced different types of internal divisions and political strains.
In this respect, we can study the Crisis of 1850 and the Secession movement of
1861 as paradigmatic, in that they show how the constitutional Conventions dealt
with internal divergences in face of external threats. Such a study, however, transcends the local significance, because of the very nature of the constitutional Convention, which functioned as a buffer between regional and federal throughout the
antebellum period. Therefore, one could reasonably argue that, by understanding
how this buffer exactly operated at times of particularly difficult political crises, it
is possible to acquire a better overall comprehension of the institutional revolution at the origin the Confederate States of America, and therefore, ultimately, also
of the very reasons why the American Civil War occurred.
Since my analysis focuses on the southern Conventions both as a means of constitutional revision and as an instrument in the making of Secession, the main
primary sources I intend to use are represented by the Conventions’ Proceedings
and Debates for the three states I have selected: Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi.
For the most part, these are available at the Library of Congress (see W. S. Jenkins,
L. A. Hamrick, A Guide to the Microform Collection of Early State Records, Washington, The Library of Congress, 1950). I will also use the Journals of the General
Assembly for the same three states, since they give important information on the
constitutional revision process and on the governors’ opinion on the same issues.
All the three states I will analyze underwent processes of constitutional reforms
in the early 1830s; after then, only Virginia underwent a second process constitutional revision in 1850, unlike both Georgia and Mississippi. To be sure, Mississippi actually hosted a Convention in 1849, but its objective was to deal with the
incoming Crisis of 1850 over constitutional issues at the federal level. All the three
states I have selected held Secession Conventions in 1861; therefore, I will look for
the relevant documents related to them. While in the case of Virginia all the Convention’s Debates have been collected and published in Journals and Papers of the
Virginia State Convention of 1861, this is not the same for Georgia and Mississippi;
therefore, I will look for other types of published primary sources. In particular, I
intend to use the Journals of the Secession Conventions, which provide rich detail
on the debates held in 1861.
Ambler, C. H., Sectionalism in Virginia from 1776 to 1861, Chicago, University of
Chicago Press, 1910.
Barney, W. L., The Secessionist Impulse: Alabama and Mississippi in 1860, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1974.
Bond, Bradley G., Political Culture in the Nineteenth-Century South: Mississippi,
1830–1900, Baton Rouge, LA, Louisiana State University Press, 1995.
Carey, A. G., Parties, Slavery and the Union in Antebellum Georgia, Athens, GA,
University of Georgia Press, 1997.
Connor, G. E., et al., The Constitutionalism of American States, Columbia, MO, University of Missouri Press, 2008.
Dinan, J. D., The American State Constitutional Tradition, Lawrence, KS, University
Press of Kansas, 2006.
Dinan, J. D., The Virginia State Constitution. A Reference Guide, Westport, CT,
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.
Fehrenbacher, D. E., Sectional Crisis and Southern Constitutionalism, Baton Rouge,
LA, Lousiana State University Press, 1995.
Green, F., Constitutional Development in the South Atlantic States, 1776–1860: A
study in the Evolution of Democracy, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina
Hill, M. B., The Georgia State Constitution. A Reference Guide, Westport, CT, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994.
Jameson, J. A., A Treatise on Constitutional Conventions: Their History, Power and
Mode of Proceeding, Chicago, Callaghan and Company, 1887.
Krane, D., Shaffer, S. D. (eds.), Mississippi, Government & Politics: Modernizers versus Traditionalists, Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1992.
McElreath, W., A Treatise on the Constitution of Georgia. Giving the Origin, History and Development of the Fundamental Law of the State, with all Constitutional Documents Containing such Law, and with the Present Constitution, as
Amended to Date with Annotation, Atlanta, GA, The Harrison Company, 1912.
Shade, W. G., Democratizing the Old Dominion: Virginia and the Second Party System, 1824–1861, Charlottesville, VA, University Press of Virginia, 1996.
Thorpe, F. N., The Federal and State Constitutions: Colonial Charters, and other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies now or heretofore forming
the United States of America, Vols. 1–7, Buffalo, NY, William D. Hein & Co., Inc.,
Winkle, W., The Mississippi State Constitution: A Reference Guide, Westport, CT,
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1993.
Wooster, R., The Secession Conventions of the South, Princeton, NJ, Princeton
University Press, 1962.
Research Fellow, History of Political Institutions, Catholic University of Milan.
Ph.D. in Politics and Institutions (Political Science Department – Catholic University of Milan). Dissertation defended May 18th 2010.
Dissertation’s Title: “Verso una secessione ‘convenzionale’. L’evoluzione costituzio
nale sudista negli Stati Uniti della prima metà dell’800” [A Secession Driven by
Conventions: Constitutional Developments in the Antebellum U.S. South]
M.Phil., Maxima cum Laude, in International Relations at the Catholic University
July 2006. Grade: 110/110 (equivalent to a 4.0 GPA).
Thesis’ Title: “Una coesistenza possibile. La Corona e le istituzioni fasciste” [A Possible Coexistence: The Crown and Fascist Institutions].
Laurea Maxima cum Laude, in Communication Studies at the Catholic University
of Milan, February 2004. Grade: 110 e lode/110 (equivalent to a 4.0 GPA).
Thesis’ Title: “Satira Politica e Corona Sabauda. Critica alle istituzioni e legittimazio
ne del potere dallo Statuto del 1848 all’Unità d’Italia” [Political Satire and the Savoy
Crown. Institutional criticism and the Legitimization of power from the 1848 Statute to Italian Unification].
Fellowships – Membership:
Member of the Newsletter Cispea Alumni’s Editorial Staff.
March 18th 2008–May 16th 2009
Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University’s Department of History (Washington,
D.C.). Advisor: Prof. Chandra Manning.
Member of the National Association of Free-Lance Journalists.
Bon, C., La nascita di una leadership. Governatori sudisti e crisi costituzionali negli
Stati Uniti della prima metà dell‘800, in «Storia, Amministrazione, Costituzio
Bon, C., La secessione in cammino. Profili di un approccio storico-istituzionale alle
cause della Guerra Civile Americana, in «Giornale di Storia Costituzionale», a.
VII, 2009, n. 17, pp. 139–162.
Bon, C., La Voce del Re. I Discorsi della Corona e L’evoluzione Parlamentare nel
Ventennio Fascista, «Giornale di Storia Costituzionale», a. VI, 2007, n. 14, pp.
Bon, C., Colombo, P., Satira politica e corona sabauda. Critica e legittimazione del
potere agli albori della storia costituzionale italiana, in «Giornale di Storia
Costituzionale», a. IV, 2005, n. 9, pp. 217–232.
Bon, C., Verso una ‘more perfect union’. Dimensioni locali e federali della rappresentanza politica nella prima metà dell’800, in L. Scuccimarra (a cura di), Il
Governo del Popolo, Roma, Viella, forthcoming.
Mariadele Di Blasio
Scholar, historian and public
intellectual. Some notes on
William Appleman Williams
The end of World War II lead to an international scenario in which the United States
had a undeniable supremacy for what concerns the economic, military and cultural dimensions. By virtue of this asymmetric standing the United States aimed to
shape the world order according to its own interests. However, American postwar
vision had a competitor, namely the Soviet Union, and to contrast her and realize its own projects the US administration decided to «contain» the enemy. This
strategy, recommended in the famous «X Article» published by Foreign Affairs, assumed the Soviet Union’s intrinsic expansionist and aggressive nature and consequently, the necessity to defend areas of vital and strategic importance to the United States (Kennan, 1947). The political and strategic outlook described in the article
was also reinforced and supported by the intellectual and academic world. Most
precisely, it was the community of diplomatic historians who contributed most
wholeheartedly and directly to the support and defense of the American cause in
the Cold War. These scholars’ principal contribution was providing a version of
recent history which would justify current policy, linking America’s struggles with
the Axis and with the Soviet Union as successive stages in one continuous and
unavoidable struggle of the Free World against expansionist totalitarians. Diplomatic History was dominated by two coastal scholars, Samuel Flagg Bemis and
Thomas Bailey who attempted to affirm a bleaker and more realistic perspective.
Bemis’ classic textbook, A Diplomatic History of the United States, supported the
vision of the United States as an anti-imperial power capable to stabilize Western
civilization against the autocratic East. It was possible because US primary goal
was to promote freedom and democracy around the globe through the example
of its superior economic, political and cultural institutions. Bailey reinforced this
portrayal with his America faces Russia in which he praised the United States for
engaging in a principled moral crusade against Soviet suppression. He described
with alarming tone the Soviet menace and its diabolic nature. Although the overemphasis of post-war synthesis, the so called “consensus history» also analyzed
issues concerning the pre-1945 history of the country. For instance, Bailey supported a positive interpretation of Roosevelt’s policies both in domestic and foreign policy. Moreover, the leading diplomatic historian Foster Rhea Dulles showed
a more sympathetic treatment of the turn-of-the-century imperialism, claiming
that American policymakers were awakening to the responsibilities of a world
power (Novick, 1988; Hunt, 1992; Brown, 2009).
It was during the Fifties that a huge challenge to this portrayal and interpretation of American history and politics came into being. Not surprisingly, its main
interpreter was a diplomatic historian, William Appleman Williams. This research
aims to analyze both his main works (with a special consideration of The Tragedy
of American Diplomacy, Contours of American History, Empire as a Way of Life) and
their contribution to the historiographical debate among diplomatic historians.
Moreover, this work will take into consideration the influence that Williams played
on a generation of young scholars that wrote their thesis under his supervision at
the University of Wisconsin. In fact, Williams contributed to create a new school
of diplomatic history that would be called «Wisconsin school». Secondly, this research aims to shed a light on Williams considered as a public historian, a public
intellectual. He was convinced that he might generate a lot of historical consciousness in the public at large: Williams constantly wrote articles published by several
American journals, such as The Nation, Monthly Review, The New York Review of
Books, criticizing the Cold War intellectual monolith that dominated «acceptable»
debate. Furthermore, during the Eighties he wrote severe columns for two Oregonian newspapers (Portland Oregonian and The Statesman Journal) attempting to
spread even «at the borders of the empire» new interpretations of the American
politics. I will also highlight the role of public intellectual taking into consideration
Williams’ influence on the New Left. One might say that he furnished the intellectual roots to part of the movements that would have distinguished the Sixties.
The first criticism to the orthodox interpretation came through the first Williams’ book: American Russian Relations. In the book’s final chapter, he deeply criticized the decision of Truman Administration to adopt a strategy of containment,
as strongly recommended by policymakers such as George F. Kennan. According
to Williams, this policy compounded the wartime error of postponing agreement
with Russia over her interests in Eastern Europe, ignored the reality of Soviet military power in the area, and delayed economic aid badly needed as a result of the
devastation of Russia. A similar view – that would be found in his later studies in
more sophisticated interpretation – had noteworthy implications for what concerns the origins of the Cold War: Williams, in fact, argued that responsibilities for
the outbreak of the confrontation between the two superpowers could be found
on the American side. This challenging interpretation was developed and deepened in the subsequent book, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. In this work,
he challenged the United States’ moral standing in the world: the superpower was
not a liberal and progressive force within the international community. He went
deeply into this issue describing American diplomacy as driven by the conviction that without the «open door», namely without the unhindered internationalization of the market democracy, would lose its fundamental basis. Supporting
the creation of its own Weltanshauung the United States’ diplomacy denied and
subverted its ideals an values, beginning from the intervention at Cuba in 1898
(Williams, 1952, 1962); (Noble, 1985). Williams claimed that United States’ imperial
goals played a significant role in the onset of the conflict and Soviet Union was
merely reacting to an aggressive American demands for business markets and political access around the world. Williams argued, in fact, that economics were inextricably linked with politics and ideology and, therefore, important for historical
understanding. Therefore, Williams was unique in linking domestic disquiet to a
long history of expansion, which in his grandest formulations he traced back to
England’s Glorious Revolution. Williams meant breaking the cycle in which outward movement through territorial conquest, market expansion or war becomes
the default solution to all social ills. In Contours he reached into seventeenth-century British history to argue that the relationship between liberalism and empire
was a grand compromise, with expansion serving as a means of containing the
factionalism generated by incipient capitalism. This was the same solution found
to solve the crisis of 1929. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal was not a revolution in order to change the whole system, but a way to preserve it. A system
in which the «corporate capitalism» constitutes the leading force: a complex ‘understanding between big business, big government and big labor. Williams’ interpretation was absolutely antithetic to Schlesinger Jr. and Hofstader ones: they
claimed the reforming power and the absolute originality of the liberalism during
the Thirties. One cannot be denied the influence that actual issues had on Williams
work. He wrote those notes in the epoch in which a passionate liberalism dominated the political scene. They were the years of Kennedy’s New Frontier, Lyndon
Byrnes Johnson’s Great Society and the Vietnam War (Williams, 1961); (Testi, 1984);
The emphasis that Williams gave to economic factors in order to explain Us
foreign policy had a great impact in his students. Many of them contributed to constitute the so called «Wisconsin school». It is partial and not sufficient to remember only some of Williams’ students who became influent and important scholars
as well: Lloyd Gardner, Walter LaFeber and Thomas McCormick. Although, it might
highlights the importance that Williams’ teaching and research activity had in the
historical field. All of them have underlined the importance that the economic expansion had in the history of the United States. Gardner argued that the New Deal
did not promote a nationalistic economy; on the contrary, during the Thirties the
quest for new markets lead to the Us commitment in the world scenario (Gardner,
1964). Thomas McCormick emphasized the importance of the «Open Door Policy»
through which the United States imposed their imperial power. An expansion that
was not anymore territorial but it was based on the economic penetration, especially in Asia (McCormick, 1967). The idea of an industrial control over the world,
that is the unconditional possibility for the United States to export its own goods
was one of the core thesis of Walter LaFeber early work. Even though he recognized
the importance of the debate between imperialists and anti-imperialists, the need
for new markets was the common ground about which mediate (LaFeber, 1963).
One will be extremely interesting to analyze Williams’ articles published on
journals and newspapers. I consider this section of the PhD thesis the most original one even though I did not get through this issue yet. The analysis conducted
on Williams’ works have been mainly centered on his academic writings instead
that what has been published for a larger and not professional public. The «intransigent historian» attempted through his severe even if sometimes really brief article to impose new interpretations of actual political events. One will be a worthwhile opportunity to shed a light on an aspect has been only partial considered1.
The primary sources firstly considered to realize this research project has been
Williams’ personal papers at the Oregon State University. The definition of «personal papers» results imprecise given the fact that Williams did not keep any of
his personal papers. All the materials kept here have been donated by colleagues,
friends and former students. Even though, the personal papers could be considered a fundamental basis for this thesis. Secondly, several collections retained to
the Wisconsin State Historical Society will have a great importance to draw the
contours of this research. First of all, the personal papers of Williams’ professors
and mentors at the University of Wisconsin, where he received his PhD. Among
them there are: Fred Harvey Harrington, William Hesseltine and Merle Curti. Oral
history sources will be part of the sources considered: interviews realized during
the Nineties to most of the faculty staff of the University of Wisconsin. Moreover,
the Studies on the Left Papers and the Radical America Papers had a great importance to shed a light on Williams’ relation and influence on the student movement
that was particularly active at the University of Wisconsin.
This research could not obviously leave out of consideration all Williams’
books through which one will be analyzed the development of his thought.
This research will use the most comprehensive spectrum of literature about
Williams and the issues he addressed during his academic and public life. As mentioned above, there is a unique biography about him written by Paul Buhle and
Edward Rice-Maximine. The rest of the literature is mostly dedicated to the main
topics that Williams discussed within his works: the empire and the Us imperialism, economic factors linked to foreign policy, the interpretation of the New Deal
or more in general the revisionist school. One might notice that some of his former students contributed to the historiographical debate promoting a very sympathetic view of their mentor’s works. It will be necessary to include also works
about other historians considered as public intellectuals. One very valid example
could be Lo storico nel suo labirinto. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. tra storia, impegno
civile e politica written by Marco Mariano.
1. The only example of partial consideration of Williams’ articles – in particular
published by Oregonian newspaper – has been done by Paul Buhle and Edward
Rice Maximin (Buhle-Maximin, 1995).
Brown, D. S., Beyond the Frontier. The Midwestern Voices in American Historical
Writing, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Buhle P., Maximin, E. R., Appleman Williams. The Tragedy of Empire, New York,
Gardner, L., Economic Aspects of New Deal Diplomacy, Boston, 1964.
Hunt, M. H., The Long Crisis in U.S. Diplomatic History: Coming to Closure, in
«Diplomatic History», vol. 16, n. 1, Winter 1992, pp. 115–140.
Kennan, G. F. (using the pseudonym “X”), The Sources of Soviet Conduct, in «Foreign Affairs», vol. 24, n. 4, 1947, pp. 556–582.
LaFeber, W., The New Empire. An interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–
1898, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1963.
McCormick, T., China Market. America’s quest for Informal Empire, 1893–1901,
Chicago Quadrangle, 1967.
Noble, D. W., The End of American History. Democracy, capitalism, and the metaphor of two worlds in Anglo-American historical writing, 1880–1980, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1985.
Novick, P., That Noble Dream. The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Testi, A., L’età progressista negli Stati Uniti, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1984.
Vaudagna, M., Il New Deal e la storiografia della New Left, in «Rivista di storia contemporanea», vol. 4, n. 2, 1975, pp. 276–295.
Williams, W. A., The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, New York, Delta Book, 1962.
Williams, W. A., The contours of American History, Cleveland (NY), World Pub. Co.,
Williams, W. A., American Russian Relations, 1781–1947, New York, Rinehart, 1952.
Ph.D. in “Political History of the Contemporary Age in the 19th and 20th centuries”
– Department of Politics, Institutions, History – University of Bologna.
MA Degree in Scienze Internazionali e Diplomatiche (MA in International Relations)
Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, Forlì Campus. University Degree
in The US and the world politics during XX century: “The New Left and the student
movement during the Sixties ”. Grade : 107/110.
Bachelor Degree in Scienze Internazionali e Diplomatiche (International relations)
Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, Forlì Campus. Degree in Contemporary History: “The Lebanese crisis and Syria’s involvement during the Seventies and the Eighties”. Grade: 100/110.
The postbipolar ideal and its
limits: The trilateralist approach of
the Carter Administration
Between the late Sixties and the first half of the Seventies the United States military
defeat in Vietnam, the Bretton Woods system’s collapse and the Watergate scandal
undermined the cold war liberalism. Public opinion and U. S. policymakers had to
deal with the limits of the American superpower, which was no more capable to
guarantee an unrestrained economic expansion and an absolute anti-communist
commitment as well. The demise of the butter and guns model produced a broad
academic and social debate to define a new political agenda and to restore a wide
In the spring of 1972 David Rockefeller, inspired by the writings of Zbigniew
Brzezinski, proposed the creation of the Trilateral Commission, where academic
experts, economists, politicians and journalists from the three poles of the industrialized world – North America, Japan and Western Europe – discussed the major
problems of the international system in order to improve public understanding of
such issues through the support of the media.
According to the trilateralists, since the late Sixties the rigid bipolarism of the
last twenty years was inadequate in a more interdependent and fragmented world.
Instead of insisting on the Est-West confrontation through a pragmatic and unilateralist approach, the Trilateral Commission opted for a new agenda. In the first
place trilateralists focused on the North-South relations, particularly on the essential contribute of the Most Advanced Countries to Low Developed Countries’
growth. Moreover they promoted more coordination between the leading economies of the world, the development of the alternative energies and the oil conservation policies. The tools for implementing these objectives were cooperation,
multilateralism, and concerted decision within international organizations.
The democratic candidate Jimmy Carter joined the Commission from the
beginning and during the 1976 presidential campaign there was an intensive information sharing, specially about foreign policy and economics, between the
election committee and trilateralists. After victory, the president and other 25 trilateralists in his administration tried to realize the so-called trilateralist approach
promoting the North-South relations, the regional approach in local conflicts, a
renewed economic and political cooperation between the allies, as new priorities
in the U. S. foreign policy. By the 1979 the escalation of tension in the superpower
relations, the Iranian Islamic revolution and the hostages crisis forced Carter to
re-establish a classic global containment approach, failing the aim to regain the
public consensus against the rise of neoconservatives.
New available documents from the Jimmy Carter Library and the Rockefeller
Archive Center allow to reconstruct the history of the Trilateral Commission and
to define the role of the trilateralist approach in achieving some goals like US-China Normalization, Israel-Egypt peace treaty and the Panama Canal treaties. Furthermore the Trilateral Commission and the Carter Administration contributed to
carry out some important and still relevant aims: reducing air and water pollution,
improving environmental policies, promoting multilateralism and cooperation in
the international system, developing alternative energies, reducing oil consumption, focusing on North-South relations.
In 2009 I have conducted my research in various U.S. archives. I have spent
about two months at the Jimmy Carter Library to consult new declassified material, particularly working on the following collections. National Security Affairs File
provides a detailed overview about specific issues of U.S. foreign policy. Within
this collection there are many key memos of the National Security Adviser Brzezinski to the President including the Subject File, the Geographic File and the Country File. Moreover the Pre-presidential papers are essential for reconstructing the
1976 presidential campaign, specially the collaboration between Jimmy Carter’s
staff and some trilateralists, including Richard Gardner, Henry Owen, Zbigniew
Brzezinski, Cyrus Vance, Hedley Donovan, Richard Holbrooke and Leonard Woodcock. Furthermore the Plains Files are useful to define the President’s view about
foreign policy issues and how he managed pluralism within his Administration.
The handwritten notes of the President show the meticulous care that he paid to
the decision-making. Finally, the meetings’ transcripts from November through
January of 1976–1977 shed light on the administration members’ appointing. The
White House Central Files and the Handwriting Files are a valuable contribution to
defining, on the one hand, the Jimmy Carter’s management of internal debate on
various issues, on the other hand, the process of decision-making. Finally I have
consulted the papers of some trilateralists, who joined the administration: the
Brzezinski Collection, Hedley Donovan Papers, Walter Mondale Papers and Harold
Brown Papers. At the Eisenhower Presidential Library I have examined the Gerard
C. Smith File, which includes papers of a founding member of the Trilateral Commission and an administration’s member as well. At the Minnesota Historical Society Library, I have consulted the Papers of Walter Mondale, trilateralist and vice
president in the Carter Administration. At the Manuscript Division of the Library
of Congress, I worked on the Papers of Elliot L. Richardson, another trilateralist
who joined the Administration. The papers of the Council on Foreign Relations
held at Princeton University Library and the documents recently cataloged at the
Rockefeller Archive Center provide crucial informations on the formation of the
Commission, its internal debates and its members.
The Trilateral Commission, often associated with an unfounded conspiracy
theory, which supports the idea of the existence of a group of multinational corporations determined to overthrow the international order, promoting a transnational authoritarianism, has often been overlooked by historians, or, at most, analyzed in a few dated works. Formation, goals, and members of this organization,
represented a new response to changes, that took place in the late Sixties and in
the early Seventies. As “Nixingerian” pragmatism, thirdworldism, new leftism and
neoconservatism, the trilateralist internationalism was a product of a fundamental
social and cultural debate which had followed the political crisis of the American
superpower after military defeat in Vietnam and the economic decline of the Bret-
ton Woods system.
Without a comprehensive analysis of the history of that Commission is extremely complicated, in our opinion, to understand the cultural and political background of the 1976 presidential democratic candidate Jimmy Carter. Thanks to
the support and advice of the trilateralists, Jimmy gradually defined his project
for a new U. S. international role, which went beyond the classical agenda of containment and used its power and its geopolitical influence to manage the rising
global problems. According to Jimmy Carter and the trilateralists, the rigid bipolar
vision forced the United States to spend more and more resources in an outdated
ideological challenge, far from the complex reality of the Seventies. Moreover, the
study of the trilateralist approach, arose from the interactions between trilateralism
and the candidate’s background, allows to understand the Carter Administration’s
post-bipolar commitment, partly failed because of unfavorable circumstances.
The trilateralist approach represented a new awareness about the changes which
occurred in the Seventies to national and international level. Internationally the
growing interdependence rendered gradually obsolete the rigid bipolar perspective of international relations and, simultaneously, brought out new problems that
could be faced only through the concertation and multilateralism, against a new
unilateralist protectionism. Domestically, on the one hand, arose a new collective
consciousness that transcended national borders, thanks to the growing mass
communication and the new awareness on issues such as environmentalism and
nuclear disarmament, on the other hand, there was the growing phenomenon of
cultural social and political fragmentation.
To sum up, trilateralism allowed a first post-bipolar approach to global transformations, which changed the international system in the initial stage of globalization in the Seventies, undermining the rigid cold war system. During the long
decade, the hard power, characterized by military power, geopolitical influence,
and the balance of power, was gradually challenged by a new soft power, characterized by the rise of interdependence, massification of information, the rising
of the movements for nuclear disarmament and the environmentalism. Furthermore, if we analyze the history of the Carter administration exclusively through
the lens of bipolarism, the escalation of tension between the superpowers, and
the U.S. containment of communist destabilization in the Third World, the importance of social, cultural, economic and political transformations in the United
States appears only partially clear. Despite the decline in the public’s confidence
in the executive during the Carter’s last year in office, caused by stagflation and
Iranian crisis, in the conclusions we will focus on Carter Administration’s accomplishments, specially on the relevance of the approach in a long term perspective.
Current world’s problems are very similar to those which trilateralism tried to deal
with in the late Seventies.
The project is in its final stage. After an extensive bibliographic research, completed in the first year of doctoral school, and having carried out the work in the US
archives, where I spent four months of 2009, in the early 2010 I started the drafting of the five chapters of the thesis, which will probably be discussed before next
spring at the latest. The division of chapters follows a chronological structure: the
first chapter examines the historiography on the administration and the Commission, the second deals with the creation of the Trilateral Commission and its first
3–4 years, paying particular attention to the role of trilateralists who joined the administration, the third focuses on the 1976 election campaign and the interactions
between the democratic candidate and the trilateralists, the fourth considers the
implementation of the new approach between 1977 and 1980 focusing on foreign
policy issues, in the fifth we discuss the Jimmy Carter’s last year in office and the
decline of the trilateralist approach until the election defeat, without forgetting the
goals achieved and the legacy of the trilateralist approach. In the conclusion we
reflects on the relevance of the trilateralism for the comprehension of the changing role of the United States in the post cold war international system.
Ph. D., History of International Relations – Project: The Postbipolar ideal and its
limits: The Trilateralist Approach of the Carter Administration.
Laurea Specialistica (postgraduate) Contemporary History – Documantazione e
Title of Thesis: Italy and the Euromissiles Crisis: Bilateralism and Multilateralism
in the Press and in the Parliamentary Debates Tutor: prof. Nicola Labanca – University of Siena, Italy. Grade: 110/110 cum laude.
Laurea Triennale (undergraduate) Contemporary History. Title of Thesis: The Soviet Foreign Policy in the Stalin’s Era – University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy.
Grade: 110/110 cum laude.
Strength, pride, and rights: The
African American community and
My research project examines the African American experience in sport during the
20th-century United States. This work is primarily focused on the cities of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, even though I use a great deal of national primary
sources. I hope to defend my thesis at the beginning of 2012. I would like to begin
to write the first chapters of my dissertation within the next four months.
Sport has always represented a highly significant element of African American social life. For example, since the mid-20th century, African Americans have
been over-represented in the most popular professional sports in the U.S. Yet, it is
almost completely absent from African American history textbooks – not to mention U.S. history textbooks.
The traditional answers to the question of black over-representation in sports
consider black athletic success to be determined either by body type (biological thesis of the superiority of the “black phenotype” for sports), culture (thesis
of the “black ethos” saying that blacks have inherited a culture of improvisation
and physicality suited to sports), environment (poverty thesis outlining that in the
ghetto only sports requiring little space and cheap equipment can be played), or
racial discrimination (“institutional racism” thesis stating that the structures of
the white society are so racist that they funnel blacks into specific activities like
sports). All these explanations consider black people as passive individuals determined by their body, culture, environment or the mainstream society.
In reality, the archives reveal that early in the 20th century the black middle
class had willingly used athletics as a means to develop the “character” of the “Negro race”1. Sports have represented, I believe, a particularly important aspect of the
politics of racial uplift fostered by “race leaders” since the end of the Civil War. This
uplift ideology has never been only intellectual; it was a moral imperative aimed to
forge a sound mind in a sound body at a time when the benefits of a strenuous life
were promoted in the American society2.
Based on these premises, here is an outline of the main topics I would like to
study in my proposed dissertation.
Sport, “character,” and racial pride, 1900s–1920s
Contrary to the contemporary opinion saying that all professional African American athletes come from a working-class background, the first half of the 20th century shows the involvement of the black middle class in sports and physical activities. In fact, sports have been used by black middle-class leaders to hasten the
“uplift of the race.”
In this chapter I study the place and the role of sport in the African American
community between the 1890 and the 1930, i.e., between the “nadir” (Rayford Logan) of the history of African Americans in the U.S. and the New Negro movement.
The sources indicate that the black middle class consciously used sport as a means
to forge pride, courage, manhood, fair-play, discipline, self-control, self-respect—
that is to say, “character”—in their communities. This moral reform was thought to
lead to the social integration of blacks in the mainstream society. In the beginning
of the 20th century, this position was not new but was typical of the popularity of
“strenuous” activities in the overall society (outdoor sports, like fishing, hunting,
hiking, baseball, etc.) and particularly on the white universities’ campuses of New
England where the related promotion of such ideals as “chivalry,” “gentlemanliness,” and “sportsmanship” was part of the academic formation of future social
and political leaders.
Moreover, since the latter half of the 19th century, sporting activities in the
U.S. have been considered the concrete representation of the democratic ideals at
the core of the “American dream”: In sporting events, all the competitors, whatever
their social, ethnic, or religious origins, obey the same rules; and, by dint of courage
and, thus, merit, any of them can be victorious. Sporting events offered the striking image of the functioning of a real democracy. This helps explain why sport has
been used as the perfect illustration of the “American dream” and has been so important for the African American community (and for immigrant groups) whose
aim was to develop the body and the soul of its children in the Victorian and social
Darwinist frameworks of the manly promotion of the “strenuous life” preparing
“real men” for the “struggle for existence”.
To study these questions, I use the numerous local and national primary sources in my possession: local and national newspapers, YMCA and YWCA archives,
boys’ and girls’ clubs archives, etc. I also plan to shed light on these issues thanks
to the writings of the three most important African American leaders of the time:
Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey. In spite of their differences and bitter arguments, all of them were tireless activists of the uplifting of the
African American community. They thought that a character-building education
was the most suited tool to reach this goal.
Sport, the feminine body, and womanhood, 1900s–1930s
Feminist historians have seen sports as a means of liberation for women and their
bodies within a male-dominated society. As far as African American women are
concerned, this vision of the role of sports does not take into account the complexity of the social situation of women at the beginning of the 20th century. Has sport
really challenged the masculine social order in the African American community?
Women have also participated in sports. The historians working in this field of
research have produced many works, especially focused on white women, deepening our knowledge of the Victorian bodily culture and its ethics of feminine respectability. African American women’s participation in sports has received much
less attention – in part because of the scarcity of the sources. This chapter seeks to
enlarge our knowledge of African American women’s involvement in sports and to
balance men’s discourses on manhood and character.
According to the sources, African American women, like their white counterparts, have had to face coexisting and sometimes antagonistic social norms. They
have forged ambiguous social values that opposed the male vision of womanhood
and at the same time reproduced the patterns of the American patriarchal society.
For example, they used sports to create a specific sociability independent from
men during a period of progressive political emancipation, but they played sports
suited to their “feminine nature” reinforcing the traditional vision of the “weaker
sex.” This is also true of white women’s participation in sports. Between the end of
the 19th century and the 1930s, sport was never considered a “natural” activity for
women. Nevertheless, women played many sports in YWCAs, notably basketball—
a sport played, in theory, without any physical contact and with numerous passes
between the players. But sportswomen received very little publicity for their engagement in sports. In fact, this chapter could show that the culture of the dominated is never totally independent from, nor opposed to the dominant culture.
Agency, in this context, is necessarily ambiguous (Summers, 2004).
Sport, the black ghetto, and urban culture, 1910s–1930s
The work of historians of the Great Migration and the New Negro has shown the
new kinds of political protest used by African Americans in the post-World War I
period. But sport has hardly been studied in this history although this social activity has been a central part of the new urban and political black culture3.
In this chapter, I will examine sport within the African American urban culture between 1910 and 1940. I will study sports in the context of the Black Renaissance, the emergence of the New Negro and the development of black capitalism.
In that regard, Washington, D.C., is of interest since it has been, alongside Harlem,
a famous place of the Back Renaissance.
A primary focus of this chapter will be the study of the role of sport at the uni-
versity level. I intend to study sports at Howard University, the most prestigious
black university in the U.S. I will also study Lincoln University (near Philadelphia)
and Baltimore’s Morgan’s College, two of the toughest opponents of Howard on
the playing field. This could show the tension between the classical intellectual
vision of the uplift of the community defended by W. E. B. Du Bois for example,
and the popularity of sports especially among the younger generation to reach
this goal. College athletics were used by college students and fraternities to assert
a new political vision of themselves, made both of city and race pride. The famous
“football classic” between Howard University and Lincoln University played on
Thanksgiving Day and drawing people from every corner of black America is an
interesting starting point for this chapter.
This study of university sporting culture will be enlarged to the high school
sporting culture: Washington, D.C.’s Armstrong, Dunbar, Cardozo, and Phelps
High Schools, and Baltimore’s Dunbar and Douglass High Schools.
Sport, youth, and delinquency, 1920s–1960s
Sport has been used by middle-class blacks in both a positive and negative way to
build up the “decency” of the “race”: In a positive manner, by using sport as a tool
to build the character of the individual; in a negative manner, by using sport as a
means to fight juvenile delinquency. These views were largely shared by the larger
The 1920s and 1930s, in the context of Prohibition and the Great Depression,
were marked by the deepening of the social panic over (black and white) juvenile
delinquency (Gilbert, 1986). This panic emerged in the 19th-century industrial cities and culminated in the 1960s with the racial riots in the black ghettos. J. Edgar
Hoover, Director of the Bureau of Investigation, which later became the F.B.I., was
typical of this national concern. His speeches and numerous public statements on
this issue have greatly contributed to the reinforcement of this diffuse alarm over
the future of American youth and society.
In the U.S., sport was thought to be one of the most effective means to contain and eliminate juvenile delinquency. Sport, organized under the supervision
of adults, was supposed to teach the children the rules of social life (to be “decent”)
and to build their “character.” This idea originated in the 1890s reformist Playground Movement whose goal was to take the children from the street to rescue
them from a harmful and potentially criminal “subculture.”
The federal and local archives show a fear concerning leisure time, i.e., time
not devoted to economic production. Free to organize their time outside the workplace, working-class individuals were suspected of the worst possible crimes.
The archives clearly present sport as an instrument of control over the body and
the mind of people to secure social peace and order. On this point again, mid-
dle-class blacks had the same preoccupations as the rest of society. Black leader
Mary McLeod Bethune embodied such concerns over sports and black youth when
she was involved in public conferences and administrations under presidents
Coolidge, Hoover, and Roosevelt.
To complete this analysis, I should study sport and physical activities from the
bottom up. I would like to document the “street life” claimed to be absolutely opposed to the “decency” promoted by middle-class blacks and whites. Sport occupied a central place in the so-called street culture. What did working-class people
really think about leisure time, street life, the body, and sport?
Sport, tolerance, and democracy, 1920s–1960s
A large part of the American public opinion (and in particular African Americans)
used to agree with the idea that sport helped fight what was called until the mid20th century “racial prejudices.” Because of the exploits of black athletes such as
Jesse Owens and Joe Louis, sports were supposed to create tolerance and thus
democracy – i.e., “fair play” in society. Sports were explicitly linked to the ideology
of the “American dream.”
In this chapter, I will study Edwin B. Henderson, who was a physical educator,
a civil rights activist and a historian of African American athletes. His thoughts and
activities were characteristic of the different meanings and roles given to sport in
the African American middle class between the 1930 and 1970.
For Henderson, as for most of his contemporaries, sports had a double role:
Sports had a social role since they helped promote decency, that is to say the
building of character and the fight against delinquency. Sport could help build
Sports had a political role since they helped promote democracy, that is to say
the dignity of the black race and the fight against racial stereotypes. Sports could
help promote collective respectability.
On both an individual and collective level, sport aimed to create equality with
whites, that is to say equal opportunities, sportsmanship, and fair play.
Edwin Henderson’s activism against racial segregation in sport and leisure
venues like Washington, D.C. segregated Uline arena is typical of what was believed
at that time: To fight segregation in sports (which allow promoting democracy) is
to fight doubly for the American political ideals of liberty and equality at the basis
of the “American dream,” since blacks would gain access to the stands and a racially mixed crowd would learn to admire and respect black performers and blacks
in general. The representation of the professional black athletes in journals’ and
magazines’ advertisements of the 1940s and 1950s showed the respectability of
these true “race men.” We have forgotten that in mid-century black America Jackie
Robinson and Willie Mays had a role as important for the African American com-
munity as singer Marian Anderson’s and actor Sidney Poitier’s in terms of racial
respectability and uplift.
Finally, for Edwin Henderson, who has always been close to the NAACP’s positions on social integration and opposed to Marcus Garvey’s and the Black Power
movement’s nationalism, the radicalization of the Civil Rights movement was a
grave mistake. In his many letters to newspapers, he used to fiercely attack the
young leaders of the Black Power movement for example. According to him, the
true Black Power originated from African Americans who had proved their value
in mainstream society, and above all African American athletes.
Yet, Henderson’s faith in the social value of sport for the African American
community was not totally shared in the 1960s. Henderson’s position was largely
criticized at this time. Not only radical thinkers like sociologists Harry Edwards
considered sports as a means of oppression of the black community, but middleclass blacks began to find new ways of social integration, and even began to distrust sports as a means of social uplift. The study of this point is the purpose of the
Sport, urban crisis, and suburbanization, 1940s–1960s
I argue that the meaning of sport in the African American community has shifted
in the mid-20th century: Sport was perceived as a solution for the problems of the
African American community at the beginning of the 20th century, and as a problem from the 1960s on. The movement toward the suburbs of the white and black
middle classes has changed the meaning of certain sports like basketball, football,
and boxing for African Americans. These sports have come to be viewed as activities typical of the deindustrializing and impoverishing black ghetto.
In this chapter, I intend to undertake a study of the culture of the body in the
1940s–1960s American suburbs. This period was marked by the end of the European immigrants’ traditional street culture. This street culture, I believe, has never
been reproduced in the single-family house suburbs.
Moreover, this period marked the end of the classical black ghetto (“a city
within a city”) described by Drake and Cayton in Black Metropolis, since a great
part of the middle-class blacks left the city to settle into the suburbs (Wiese, 2004).
The suburbs came to be defined by what I propose to name a “culture of decency”
as opposed to the “culture of the street” typical of the cities and in particular of the
black ghettos (Anderson, 2000); (Landry, 1987).
In this period of dazzling economic growth and federal civil rights programs,
middle-class blacks were less and less likely to see sport as a means of social ascension and respectability. They still were interested in sports like baseball, basketball,
football, but mostly as a leisure activity in an era of rising TV spectatorship, and
not as an important facet of African American social uplift. More and more, to play
sports for an upward mobility was thought to be typical of ghetto youth searching
to escape poverty by going to big time colleges. I think that this process explains
the striking scarcity of historical works on sport done by African American historians. Indeed, they belonged mostly to the middle class and were logically more interested in what was viewed at the time as positive elements of the African American history: African American agency and resistance in a white-dominated world
(slave rebellions, the abolitionist movement, slave culture and resistance on the
plantations, the Civil Rights movement, etc.); African American inventions and
contributions to world culture (jazz, blues, literature, etc.).
Finally, the deindustrialization of U.S. cities and the collapse of the traditional
institutions of the black metropolis have reinforced the role of sport for the social
integration of a huge part of African American youth. Contrary to the analysis of
sport as a quasi-pathological “fixation” (Hoberman, 1997) of African Americans, I
think that the involvement of working-class blacks in sports has been a rational
adaptation to the life conditions of the disintegrating ghetto.
This chapter seeks to reevaluate the history of the American suburb which
has largely been focused on urbanistic and institutional issues. I wish to study the
“culture of the suburbs” and, in particular, its culture of the active body. What was
the meaning of the travel from the city center to the periphery for middle-class
whites and blacks in terms of social aspirations and bodily dispositions? Does it
explain why some professional sports has come to be dominated by black players? Does it explain the silence of the African American history textbooks on that
topic, most of the time written by members of what E. Franklin Frazier has called
the “black bourgeoisie”?
1. Pamela Grundy has studied this topic in her book: Learning to Win: Sport, Education, and Social Change in Twentieth-century America (Chapel Hill, The
University of North Carolina Press, 2001, esp. chap. 6).
2. For a history of the racial uplift ideology from an intellectual point of view, see
Kevin Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the
Twentieth Century, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
3. One exception is the last chapter of Davarian L. Baldwin’s Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life, Chapel Hill, The
University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
Anderson, E., Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner
City, New York, Norton and Company Inc., 2000.
Baldwin, D. L., Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black
Urban Life, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
Gaines, K., Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
Gilbert, James B., A Cycle of Outrage: America’s Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s, New York, Oxford University Press, 1986.
Grundy, P., Learning to Win: Sport, Education, and Social Change in Twentiethcentury America, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
Hoberman, J., Darwin’s Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race, New York, Houghton and Mifflin Company, 1997.
Landry, B., The New Black Middle Class, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of
California Press, 1987.
Summers, M., Manliness and Its Discontents: The Black Middle-Class and the
Transformation of Masculinity, 1900–1930, Chapel Hill, The University of
North Carolina Press, 2004.
Wiese, A., Places of Their Own: African American Suburbanization in the Twentieth
Century, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Lecturer in U.S. History, University of La Sorbonne, Paris, France.
Doctoral Candidate in U.S. History, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales
(EHESS), Paris, France.
Post-M.A. degree (D.E.A.) in U.S. History (CENA, EHES, Paris). With high honors.
Thesis Title: “Basketball Politics. Le basket-ball et la construction de l’identité africaine-américaine aux Etats-Unis, 1945–1980».
M.A. in Political Science (Institut d’études politiques, Sciences-po, Paris). With high
honors. Thesis title: «Reconnaître l’Autre. La politique de la pitié chez Rousseau.»
Agrégation in History. The Agrégation is a highly selective examination for teaching in high school and at university: involves one year of preparation or four, seven-hour written exams on Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary History,
and Geography, and three oral exams (six hour preparation for ½-hour performance).
M.A. in French History (La Sorbonne University, Paris). With high honors. Thesis
title: «L’idée de fraternité à la veille de la Révolution française. Essai sur la fraternité, les Lumières et Rousseau» Director: Dr. Alain Cabantous.
B.A. in History and Philosophy, Double major (La Sorbonne University, Paris).
Fellowships – Membership:
Fulbright and Lurcy scholarships to do archival research in Washington, D.C., and
Baltimore and attend courses in American history and sports sociology. Host Institution: University of Maryland, College Park.
Grant of the Conseil Régional d’Ile-de-France, “Aide à la mobilité internationale,”
to finance my doctoral research in the U.S.
Grant of the Centre Régional des (Euvres Universitaires et Scolaires (CROUS) of
Paris to complete my post-M.A. research (D.E.A.) at the EHESS, Paris. Attributed according to merit criteria.
Grant of the Centre Régional des (Euvres Universitaires et Scolaires (CROUS) of
Paris to prepare the Agrégation in history at La Sorbonne University, Paris. Attributed according to merit criteria.
Martin-Breteau, N., Un ‘laboratoire parfait’? Race, sport et génétique: le discours de
la différence athlétique aux Etats-Unis, in «Sciences sociales et sports», vol. 3,
June 2010, pp. 7–43.
Martin-Breteau, N., Le sport et la race: Taboo et la réception du discours sur les
aptitudes athlétiques des races aux Etats-Unis, in «Mouvement Social» (under
Martin-Breteau, N., The Great Equalizer? Le sport dans les luttes politiques des
Noirs américains, «Transatlantica», Special Issue «Sport et Société aux EtatsUnis» (forthcoming).
Martin-Breteau, N., Basketball Politics : éléments pour une socio-histoire du basket-ball africain-américain (1950–1980), in F. Archambault, L. Artiaga, G. Bosc
(eds.), Double jeu: histoire du basket-ball entre France et Amériques, Paris,
Vuibert, 2007, pp. 197–212.
Martin-Breteau, N., Le Nouvel ordre mondial depuis 1991, in J. Grondeux (ed.),
Histoire Terminales L/ES/S, Le Monde, l’Europe, la France de 1945 à nos jours,
Paris, Bordas, 2008, pp. 100–129.
Martin-Breteau, N., Du particulier à l’universel: la fondation de la cité humaine
chez Rousseau, in «Sens Public», Url: http://www.sens-public.org/spip.
Martin-Breteau, N., La Politique de la pitié chez Rousseau, in «Sens Public», Url:
Gendering Japan: The promotion
of U.S. Ideals on Womanhood and
beauty in occupied Japan
Almost immediately following the United States victory over Japan in 1945, America’s relationship with its former enemy changed considerably. While many in the
U.S. had conceptualized the people of Japan as a menacing evil during the war, the
Japanese had to be reconceptualized as partners in the new postwar world. American policymakers regarded nurturing democracy in Japan as a necessary measure
needed to limit Soviet influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The end of World War II
thus signaled the start of a new cultural campaign by which the U.S. government
sought to “educate” Japanese citizens about freedom, democracy, and American
cultural sensibilities. Looking at America’s Cold War campaign from the perspective of gender relations, my scholarship argues that American ideals of womanhood and beauty served as important vehicles through which the U.S. military promoted American values and beliefs throughout the defeated nation.
In contrast to male soldiers who had fought against the Allies during the war,
Occupation officials hoped to more easily influence the opinions of Japanese
women, who had coped with deplorable living conditions on the home front during World War II. Indeed many Japanese women had become frustrated with the
militarists that had led Japan into war. American Occupation officials sought to
capitalize on this resentment and transform Japanese women’s bitterness toward
the old guard into a greater receptiveness for America’s postwar agenda. When
Japanese women gained suffrage in December 1945 occupation leaders quickly
observed that the enfranchisement of Japanese women would not necessarily ensure a more democratic nation. Indeed, they were highly concerned that women
might vote uncritically by choosing the candidate their husbands or fathers told
them to support. Instilling American political and cultural sensibilities in Japanese
women therefore became a primary objective for the Occupation. This, military
leaders believed, would ensure that Japanese women would vote with American
interests in mind. It was within this context that Occupation officials and their
Japanese collaborators used gender ideals to promote the Americanization of Japan. By encouraging Japanese women to look, stand, talk, and walk like American
women, the Occupation believed it could make them think, act, and even vote like
their American counterparts.
Between 1945 and 1949 Occupation forces used three military bodies to Americanize and democratize Japanese women. First, the Occupation’s Civil Information & Education Section (CI&E) made a concerted effort to present convivial images
of American women in Japanese press, especially women’s magazines. By working with Japanese writers, editors, translators and others in the Japanese publishing industry, the CI&E actively promoted American ideals of beauty, fashion, and
womanhood throughout Japan as a method of getting Japanese women interested in the American way of life. Women’s magazines were some of Japan’s most
popular and widely read periodicals during the mid-twentieth century. Through
a survey of prominent postwar Japanese women’s magazines including, Shufu
no Tomo (Ladies Friend), Fujin Kurabu (Ladies Club), Sutairu (Style), and Sutairu
Bukku (Style Book), and an interpretation of the censorship records that pertain to
these periodicals, my research shows how occupation censors actively advanced
American ideals of femininity in the Japanese press by providing copy and giving
publications specific topics to cover. For example, Sutairu (Style) offered Japanese
women advice on food choices. The publication promised readers they could have
a more elegant and American shape if they stopped eating rice, which the publication argued made Japanese women fat, and instead fed their families an American
diet. Directly guided by the hands of the Occupation’s Civil Information & Education Section, postwar women’s magazines such as Sutairu aimed at giving Japanese women American role models whose lifestyles they could imitate.
In addition to promoting its ideal concept of Americanized womanhood as
the norm in a new Japan, the occupation also censored Japanese publications that
deviated from this line. It was in this capacity that the Occupation’s Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD) also promoted American interests in Japan. Charged
with enforcing a strict press code, the CCD banned the Japanese print media from
disseminating negative propaganda about the United States. Questing American
women’s aesthetic supremacy, or even critiquing popular U.S. fashion trends, was
incorporated under the Occupation’s understanding of propaganda. For example,
the publication Shufu To Seikatsu (The Housewife and Life) was censored for attempting to print the following lines: “Young women in Japan are now busy imi-
tating American styles, but from the point of view of natural features and taste…
Japanese women can not be satisfied with the taste of such primary colors as used
by the Americans.” According to U.S. records, censors deleted the above quote because it qualified as anti-American propaganda. Policing representations of femininity was thus a second way in which the Occupation attempted to persuade
Japanese women of their American counterparts superiority.
Finally, in addition to using the press, the Women’s Affairs and Activities Division, headed by headed by Women’s Army Corps officer Lieutenant Ethel B. Weed,
took the Occupation’s message directly to Japanese women. Women’s Army Corps
members distributed democratic literature, created public exhibitions, and organized large conferences and local meetings for Japanese women across the nation. At such events talk of American fashion, style, and grooming often served as a
means for U.S. occupation officials to begin their discussion of American women’s
lives and the roles of Japanese women in the emerging postwar society. Charged
by the Occupation with the formidable task of instilling a democratic culture in
the women of Japan, Lieutenant Weed, her American staff, and their Japanese collaborators, used a white American female prototype as the model that Japanese
women were encouraged to emulate. Portrayed as beautiful, confident, and modern, this idealized American woman was the means of expression through which
democracy was marketed to Japanese women as exciting, sexy, and progressive.
In one such forum, the Japanese schoolteacher Tomekichi Nakayama wrote
and performed a skit entitled “An Awakening Home” with fellow members of the
Hishikari Women’s Association, a group supported by the Women’s Affairs and Activities Division. Nakayama’s drama illustrates the types of discussion that Occupation forces hoped to foster in Japan. The skit dealt both with changing postwar
gender dynamics and the struggles that young Japanese women would face in
mapping a more democratic path for their lives in a new Japan. In Nakayama’s skit,
a young bride spoke with her mother-in-law about attending a women’s association meeting that was being held at a local beauty shop. Symbolizing the old guard
of Japanese society, the mother-in-law served as a highly dramatized version of
the pre-war womanly ideal in Japan. She took pride in the blind subservience she
had shown her deceased husband and now deferred to her son. By contrast, the
daughter-in-law was a modern woman, influenced by both Western aesthetics
and political ideals. She wanted to go to the women’s association meeting for its
political purposes and to get her hair styled like an American woman. In the skit,
the mother-in-law forbade her daughter-in-law’s request and argued that beauty
shops were places where young “girls who thrust their noses into everything” go
to get their “hair bobbed” and have “the strange words democracy, freedom, or
sex equality on their lips.” The Women’s Division encouraged Japanese women
to perform skits such as “An Awakening Home” in order to prepare them for the
resistance that they might get from members of their families for participating in
political activities. Indeed, at times the Women’s Division encouraged conference
attendees to extemporaneously act out their own ending to skits such as the above
as a means of training them for real life situations.
By analyzing the agenda of Occupation’s Civil Information & Education Section, Civil Censorship Detachment, and Women’s Affairs and Activities Division,
my work will highlight the ways in which gender ideals were a crucial part of America’s war for peace and partnership in Japan. The Occupation’s widespread use of
American beauty culture demonstrates the power and centrality that gender ideals played in mid-twentieth century foreign relations. Few scholars in the field of
military history or foreign policy have looked at diplomatic relations from the cultural perspective that my scholarship incorporates. In addition, my research gives
a valuable historical perspective in understanding America’s most recent Occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially in regards to American forces treatment
of non-Westernized Muslim women. As my work demonstrates, during the U.S.
occupation of Japan, American fashion and beauty were transported alongside
guns and ammunition to forcibly convert a foreign enemy into a familiar friend.
Gender ideals and the politics of women’s lives were not inconsequential topics;
rather they were an important part of the feminized diplomacy the American Government used to help realize its postwar political agenda.
Gordon W. Prange Collection, 4200 Hornbake Library, University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 20742
Records of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Women’s Affairs and
Activities Division, 1945–1950, Records Group 331, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740–6001
Assistant Professor of History, John Carroll University – University Heights, Ohio,
Department of History.
Doctor of Philosophy, History – Univ. of Maryland College Park, Maryland. “All
American Beauty: The Experiences of African American, European American, and
Japanese American Women with Beauty Culture in the Mid-twentieth Century
Fellowships – Membership:
Faculty Research Development Grant
Office of the Academic Vice-President, John Carroll University – University Height,
Research Travel Grant
David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African
Americans and the African Diaspora – College Park, MD.
Research Grants-in-Aid (2)
Center of the History of Business, Technology and Society – Hagley Center –
American Historical Association
National Women’s Studies Association
Business History Conference
McAndrew, M., A Twentieth Century Triangle Trade: Selling Black Beauty at Home
and Abroad, 1945–1965, in « Enterprise and Society», v. 11, no. 4, December
2010, pp. 811–838.
McAndrew, M., Review of Glamour: A History, in «History» 37, no. 2, February 2009,
McAndrew, M., Selling Black Beauty: African American Modelling Agencies and
Charm Schools in Postwar America, «Magazine of History», January 2010, pp.
McAndrew, M., “Cosmetics” and “Charm Schools”, in «The American Beauty Industry Encyclopedia», Westport, CT, Greenwood Publishing Group, Spring 2010.
Federal employees at home: A
social history of Takoma Park
Background: My dissertation is a social history of the emergence of new National
Museums in Washington, D.C. in the decades following World War II. It explores
the role of the federal intelligentsia (including government officials, federal civil
servants and the employees of independent and quasi-independent federal agencies) in the development of national cultural institutions that contribute to the
maintenance of a national community. It shows that the role of the federal government in American society is a sensitive issue for actors in the federal sphere. I now
aim at further exploring the issue of the place of government as well as the role of
civil servants in society.
Note: the present project presents my current hypotheses and objectives on
the eve of a three-week research trip to Takoma Park.
Takoma Park was founded in the late 1880s as a commuter suburb of Washington, D.C., along the railroad line between Baltimore and Washington. In the year
2000, the city had less than 20,000 residents. The official, self-representation of
the city stresses the progressive nature of local politics, its ban on nuclear energy,
its award-winning recycling program, its inclusive policy with non-US residents
and its «diverse» population. Since the 1960s, when a generation of residents took
an active part in the fight for civil rights and protested against the Vietnam War,
the city has hosted of a number of progressive initiatives. The establishment of its
progressive identity culminated in the 1980s as Takoma Park became increasingly
gentrified. 1978 was the year of the first Takoma Folklife Festival, while a cooperative food store opened in 1981, and a «producers-only» farmer’s market was set up
The progressive self-representation of Takoma Park by the municipal council
and several local organizations is backed by an official historical narrative, which
was written on commemorative occasions by local historical associations. It enhances the progressive frame of mind of a predominantly white and middle-class
group of citizens, who took part in the temperance movement, and who accepted
women in the local citizens’ association as early as 1889. The historical association
Takoma Inc. also stresses the independent character of the city.
There are a number of reasons to question that official historical narrative. First,
Takoma Park was founded as an attractive urban development in a healthy area,
with good water supplies, far from the mosquitoes and malaria that plagued the
city of Washington at the end of the 19th century. At that time, real estate promoter
Gilbert advertised Takoma Park as the perfect Victorian home for «the banker, the
lawyer, the merchant and the clerk», that is to say for middle-class AND upperclass people. Second, the official narrative of «independent» Takoma paradoxically
stresses its peculiar boundaries, as one part of the city belongs to the District of
Columbia while the other is in Maryland. The specific links of the city with the
national capital are mostly ignored. Finally, the 1930s are surprisingly overlooked
in that progressive history. Although the Roosevelt administration was probably
closer to Takoma’s allegedly progressive mind than the Eisenhower administration, although federal works (at least a major bridge and a swimming pool) were
realized in Takoma Park, there is hardly any reference to the role of the federal
government in local improvements in the official narratives on the city. Whether
Roosevelt’s policies struck a chord with Takoma residents is equally unknown. I
would therefore like to direct my study towards:
• the social origins and professional occupations of the citizens of Takoma Park
who were involved in local affairs,
• the impact of the national capital on historical change in Takoma Park,
• the way the actors picture to themselves the role of the federal State in their
An upper-middle class group of Takoma Park residents work for the federal government. In the first decades of the 19th century, some scientists of the Department of Agriculture were known to live in Takoma Park, where they had ample
space for experimental gardening.
The upper-middle class federal employees who live in Takoma Park are influential
in local affairs. The early creation of a 6,000-volume library as early as 1899, and
the subsequent creation in 1911 of the first branch of the Carnegie DC library in
Takoma Park reveal the existence of an influential group of residents who enjoy
cultural, financial, and social capital. Funding from Carnegie was secured thanks
to personal connections between a Takoma resident and Carnegie, while federal
funding for the maintenance of the library was obtained thanks to the actors’ obvious familiarity with Congressional proceedings.
The same group of people contributed to the advancement of progressive issues at
the local level. I have already mentioned the active temperance movement in Takoma and the early inclusion of women in civic associations. Of particular interest
is the 1959 creation of Neighbors Inc., a citizen group instrumental in promoting
racial integration and fair housing practices. According to their historical webpage, Neighbors Inc. reached out to members of the new Kennedy Administration
and the diplomatic community to interest them in the neighborhood. My tentative
understanding is that a progressive group of Takoma park home-owners, enjoying financial and social capital, fought white flight to the neighboring suburbs
(and resisted the attendant devaluation of their homes) by promoting integrated
Due to the proximity of the National Capital, national political issues are more often than not reflected in local politics in Takoma Park. But the logics of local identity-building, combined with a national tendency to anti-statism, tend to make the
federal presence less visible.
Finally, here are the sources that I plan to work with:
• The local historical society is called Historic Takoma Inc. Besides conducting
preliminary interviews with its volunteers, I plan to use some oral histories
they made with lifelong residents, whose memories go back to World War One.
I might conduct oral history interviews myself on the more recent past.
• Combined with the information collected at Historic Takoma Inc., the minutes
of municipal meetings and the local historical newspapers should provide me
with enough information to figure out who the prominent actors in local life
were, what the stakes of local politics were, and how the proximity with the
federal seat of power was envisioned.
• I also plan to read some secondary literature, as the Takoma Park library collection includes unpublished manuscripts about the history of Takoma Park.
Takoma Park is considered by many of its residents as «progressive, public-spirited and independent». However independent in character the city may feel, I aim
at showing that the national capital fundamentally impacts the nature of its social
fabric and its local issues. The role of federal employees and the residents’ involvement in social circles close to the seat of power might even be the political unconscious of its progressive local politics. My project is therefore as much about Takoma Park as about the boundaries of the national capital. It focuses on the social
history of actors in the federal sphere, and on their understanding of the role of
the State in their local life. My perspective on Takoma Park will be that of a critical
heir to community studies, which have brought sociologists and anthropologists
to focus on American middle-sized cities, my foremost aim being to contribute to
the social history of the federal state in the United States.
Teaching Assistant, English Department, Université Lyon 2.
Doctoral candidate, Université Lumière Lyon 2, American civilization, advisor
: Jean Kempf. «Nationalism under scrutiny. The Smithsonian museums, 1945–
MA in American civilization, Université Lyon II, advisor: Jean Kempf. «George
Bush’s speeches during the Gulf War (1990–1991): representations of imperialism».
BA in British civilization, Sorbonne Nouvelle: « Tony Blair’s campaign speeches,
1995–1998», with honors.
Undergraduate degree in English at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris
Fellowships – Membership:
October 2004–January 2005
Fulbright grant, Washington, D.C.
Plassart, M., Ce que commémorer veut dire : la Smithsonian Institution et l’Etat
fédéral à l’approche du Bicentenaire de la Révolution, 1964–1976, in «Transatlantica», forthcoming.
Plassart, M., Disjointed Spaces: Smithsonian Museums, the City and the Nation,
1945–1980, in «Museum History Journal», vol. 2, no. 3, juillet 2010, pp. 209–
Plassart, M., Narrating ‘America’: the Birth of the Museum of History and Technolo-
gy, 1945–1967, «European Journal of American Studies» (on-line), 2007, URL:
Culture and business: Italy,
Olivetti and the United States
State of Art
In the last two decades, historiography on contemporary Italy has analyzed more
the concept of consumption, which was largely included in books on postwar Italy. Consumption in Italy was massively influenced by America, which affected
European culture after the end of the conflict. Thus, whether culture can influence
consumption, culture can be a consumption good as well (i.e. attending an art exhibition, a theater play, a movie, etc.).
A tight link among consumption, exports, and national brands exists. The Italian is an interesting case in point, since Italy globally affirmed his national brand
as ‘Made in Italy’ since the 1970s onwards. This is an expression of quality in fashion, food, housing, and furniture industries and it often contributed to identify
Italy with brands like Ferrari, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, etc. Among the main recipients of Italian exports was the United States: in mid-1980s, some 12.3 per cent
of Italian exports reached the United States.
In the very last years, studies on consumption and promotion of Italian brand
abroad began, also connecting to the role of millions of foreigners claiming an
Italian ancestry (circa 60 millions). This mass of people is now on the spotlight for
the Italian national and regional governments for political and economic reasons.
In promoting national brands abroad, states can also use their culture. In studies of international politics, culture is intended as a ‘soft power’ with an increasing
role besides the two traditional pillars of the ‘hard power’ (economics and politics).
Culture can represent an instrument for reciprocal understanding and pacific relations among states. By ‘cultural diplomacy’ is intended the state’s use of his culture (language, academics, intellectuals, etc.) in the international game. A proper
cultural promotion can massively affect the national image abroad. Culture can
also became a more political instrument, as in the case of totalitarian regimes.
Promoting culture and language abroad can also increase business and trade
of national industries and companies. China today is a case in point, since besides
a booming economy China increased the number of the cultural Confucius Institutes across the globe aimed to diffuse Chinese culture. Renzo Zorzi – former
responsible of cultural relations for the Ivrea-based Olivetti – told how in the 1980s
his company was capable to win German and American concurrence on Japanese
market through a program of lectures on design in local universities and art exhibitions. Between late 1980s and early 1990s, Furio Colombo, chairman of FIAT-USA
and director of New York Italian Institute of Culture, stressed the importance of the
Italian culture for economic goals, since foreigners always perceived Italians for
their glorious historical past and their current creativity and dynamicity. Notwithstanding, Italy traditionally overlooked her cultural heritage and barely valorized
Very few studies analyzed the role of Italian ‘cultural diplomacy’, especially for
the postwar decades. Even less are the studies unearthing links between business
and culture. Also, studies on companies’ public relations, that is all forms of communication undertaken to relate to the external environment. It is a complex process including advertisements which can lead consumers to define a ‘brand identity’ (by product) and a ‘corporate identity’ (by company).
Olivetti, America and Italian Culture
Olivetti, Ivrea-based company leader in producing formerly typewriters and latterly electronic calculators, has been one out the most dynamic Italian companies
in the second postwar. Founded in 1908 by Camillo Olivetti, especially through
Adriano (Camillo’s son) became a company leader in Italy. Adriano benefited by a
trip to the United States in the 1930s, where was impressed by production system
and relations between management and employees. Back in Italy, he restructured
his company by promoting a collaborative relations and harmony in the plants.
He thought about a model of company town, where the company could represent
a social reference for the community of workers. According to Olivetti, this could
lead to a full accomplishment of democracy. In this model the employee had to
benefit his/her membership to the community through a number of social services including kindergartens and summer camps for children. Adriano also believed in the importance of esthetics, thus he required collaboration of architects
for restyling his plants.
Adriano was always very close to the United States and the American culture
and maintained close relations with the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, as well
as with Italian and American universities and academics, by using expertise of sociologists, philosophers, experts of graphics and urbanism and, generally, of intellectuals. According to Olivetti, culture was a tool to increase laborers’ style of life.
This is the reason why he organized a Cultural Center, a few company’s libraries,
courses in humanities, and established a company’s publisher.
Adriano soon comprehended the importance of quality in product and stores’
design and advertisement. Consequently, in 1952 the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art hosted an exhibition of Olivetti’s products. Adriano’s death in
1960 did not interrupt this process, since his heritage was taken by Renzo Zorzi,
responsible for Olivetti’s cultural relations, industrial design and advertisement.
This branch was separated by the central service for cultural and social services
addressed to the company’s employees. Zorzi’s branch had a main role in promoting the company’s brand both in Italy and abroad, since this was perceived as a vehicle for implementing business. Consequently, Zorzi was assigned a specific budget to be spent on these purposes and room for developing freely these projects.
Zorzi pointed out how cultural events were strongly linked to trade, and he firstly
thought about exporting art exhibitions abroad as marketing tools. Sometimes the
branch organized the events, otherwise these were hosted in companies’ facilities,
as in the New York’s branch of the Olivetti Corporations. Mostly the United States,
Japan, and Europe were the target of activities, which did not bring to immediate
economic incomes, rather had impressive outcomes in terms of brand promotion.
The main target of this project is to define aspects intermingling Italian cultural
diplomacy and commercial promotion in the United States since the postwar decades up to date. It is my interest to rebuild the political project by the Italian governments and evaluate whether in Rome officials aimed to use national culture as
a vehicle to improve foreign trade and exports to the United States. This study will
definitely link the role of ‘Made in Italy’ brand and his influence on Italian foreign
policy. The role of Italian chambers of commerce abroad, associations across the
globe in charge to facilitate Italian trade abroad – will be included.
This national policy will be studied besides the case of Olivetti, maybe the most
active Italian company in developing cultural activities. The goal will be studying
Olivetti’s cultural activities in the United States and discovering if the company
was able to create (or not) synergies with the Italian and American national and
regional governments. This study will be part of a wider analysis on promotions of
Olivetti’s brand and corporate identities. Responses by businessmen and American consumers to these forms of communication will be taken in account.
The theme is largely overlooked by historiography and will be based on a massive
research undertaken in the repositories of the Immigration History Research Center of the University of Minnesota through a Fulbright scholarship. I had chance to
study records of the main Italian-American organizations, whose role will be considered in the wider framework. Italian-Americans are recipients of Italian products and are vehicle for relations between Italy and the United States. Lastly, it will
be interesting to analyze how the Italian culture and the ‘Made in Italy’ brand have
a role in defining their identity ‘torn’ between the mother country and the adopted
This study intermingles diplomatic, social, ethnic and business history, and
include an analysis of consumption patterns. An intensive research on primary
sources will be pivotal to complete the project. In particular, I will take in account
the following archives:
• Archive of the Italian Foreign Affairs in Rome
• State Central Archive in Rome
• Archive of the Olivetti’s Foundation
Furthermore, proceeding of seminars on the ‘Made in Italy’ and the role of Italian culture abroad will be analyzed, as well as website as www.assocamerestero.it
(association for Italian chambers of commerce abroad) and www.madeinitaly.org,
www.clubdistretti.it. Last but not least, oral interviews to cultural and commercial
promoters will be undertaken.
This project is at his early stage. A preliminary part of research was published
as “Italia e Stati Uniti: ‘Diplomazia culturale’ e relazioni commerciali dal fascismo
al dopoguerra”, Italia Contemporanea, no. 241, 2005, pp. 523–534, while a previous
study on Italian culture propaganda to the United States in the interwar period was
published as “Culture or Propaganda? Fascism and Italian Culture in the United
States”, Studi Emigrazione, vol. 43, no. 161, 2006, pp.171–192.
Research affiliate at the Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University
of Technology, Melbourne (Australia).
Ph.D. in History at the Department of History of the University of Trieste, Italy.
B.A. in Political Sciences with orientation in history at the Faculty of Political Science of University of Florence, Italy.
Fellowships – Membership:
Grant by the Faculty of Business and Enterprise of the Swinburne University of
Technology to undertake with Dr. Michael Longo the project Immigration control:
‘Fence’ building across the US, Australia and EU Southern borders.
Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies in Berlin,
Fulbright ‘Research Scholar’ at the Immigration Historical Research Center of the
University of Minnesota, United States.
Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies in Berlin,
Memorial Fellowship American Italian Historical Association.
Fellowship at the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, Hyde Park (New York),
Fellowship at the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of the American Civilization at Brown University, Providence (Rhode Island), United States.
Grant sponsored by the Immigration History Research Center of the University of
Fulbright scholarship for research at the National Archives and Records Administration II, College Park (Maryland), and the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.,
Organization of American Historians (OAH).
Italian Society for Study of Contemporary Italy (SISSCO).
Italian Association for Studies of North America (AISNA).
Member of the editorial board of the journal Archivio Storico dell’Emigrazione Ita
liana (Historical Archive of Italian Migrations).
Pretelli, M., A Brief History of Italians in the United States, presently under peerreview process for Bordighera Press.
Pretelli, M., Between extremism and moderation: The role of Italian-American Fascist clubs in 1930s’ Italian foreign policy, in «Studi Emigrazione», vol. 40, n.150,
Pretelli, M., Colonies (Textbooks); Schools in colonies; Italian schools abroad, in
Montino, D., Gabrielli, G. (eds.), La scuola fascista: Istituzioni, parole d’ordine e
luoghi dell’immaginario, Verona, Ombre Corte, 2009.
Pretelli, M., Culture or propaganda? Fascism and Italian culture in the United States,
in «Studi Emigrazione», vol. 43, n.161, 2006, p.171–92.
Pretelli, M., Dante Alighieri Society, in De Grazia, V., Luzzato, S. (eds.), Il Fascismo:
Un dizionario critico, II, Torino, Einaudi, 2003, pp. 642–43.
Pretelli, M., Education in the Italian Colonies during the Interwar Period, in Modern
Italy (accepted by the editorial board), forthcoming in 2012.
Pretelli, M., Ethnic Identity Movements, Future of the Reform, Immigration Policy
Reform, in McKivigan, Jack R., Kaufman, Heather L. (eds.), The Encyclopedia
of American Reform Movements, New York, Facts On File (the final draft of the
essay was accepted by the editorial board), forthcoming in 2011.
Pretelli, M., Fascism and Italians Abroad, Bologna, CLUEB, 2010.
Pretelli, M., Fascism and Italians abroad: The state of art, in «Archivio Storico
dell’Emigrazione Italiana», vol. 8, 2008, pp.161–72.
Pretelli, M., Fascism and Italy: The view from abroad, in«Contemporanea», vol. XI,
n. 2, 2008, pp. 221–42.
Pretelli, M., Fascism and post-Fascism among Italians abroad, in Corti, P., Sanfilippo, M. (eds.), Storia d’Italia: Annali 24. Migrazioni, Torino, Einaudi, 2009, pp.
Pretelli, M., Fascism and second generation Italian-Americans, in «Altreitalie», 36–
37, pp. 301–14, 2008.
Pretelli, M., Fascism and Italian youngsters abroad, in Dogliani, P. (ed.), Giovani e
generazioni nel mondo contemporaneo: La ricerca storica in Italia, Bologna,
Clueb, 2009, pp. 151–60.
Pretelli, M., Fascist propaganda in the United States in the 1920s, in Abbate, M. (ed.),
Europa ed America tra Fascismo e Nazionalsocialismo, 1922–1945, Orte, Centro Falisco di Studi Storici, 2002, pp. 93–131.
Pretelli, M., Fascism, violence, and underworld abroad, in «Iperstoria», available at
the URL http://www.iperstoria.it, 2008.
Pretelli. M., Fascist response to anti-Italian bias abroad, in «Altreitalie», vol. 28,
Pretelli, M., History in textbooks for Italian schools abroad in the Fascist age, in
«Storia e problemi contemporanei», vol. 40, 2005, pp. 37–56.
Pretelli, M., Immigration and illegal aliens in the 2010 Arizona’s Law, Bologna, Il
Mulino, forthcoming 2011.
Pretelli, M., Luconi, S., Immigration in the United States,Bologna, Il Mulino, 2008.
Pretelli, M., Indoctrinating immigrant youth: Islamic schools in Italy today – Italian
schools in the United States in the interwar period: A comparison,in «Archivio
Storico dell’Emigrazione Italiana», vol. 3, 2007, pp. 235–44.
Pretelli, M., Italian fasci abroad, in De Grazia, V., Luzzato, S. (eds.), Il Fascismo: Un
dizionario critico, I, Torino, Einaudi, pp. 511–513, 2002.
Pretelli, M., Italian fasci and Italian-American communities: A tough relationship,
1921–1929, in Sanfilippo, M., (ed.), Emigrazione e storia d’Italia, Cosenza, Pellegrini, pp. 209–42, 2003.
Pretelli, M., Italians in the United States, 1870–1940, in Barkan, E. (ed.), An Encyclopedia of U.S. Immigration, Santa Barbara, CA, ABC-Clio Books (the final draft
of the essay was accepted by the editorial board), forthcoming in 2011.
Pretelli, M., Italians in the United States, 1945–2010, in Barkan, E., An Encyclopedia
of U.S. Immigration, Santa Barbara, CA, ABC-Clio Books (the final draft of the
essay was accepted by the editorial board), forthcoming in 2011.
Pretelli, M., Ferro, A., Italians in the United States in 20th Century, Rome, Centro
Studi Emigrazione Roma, 2005.
Pretelli, M., Italy and the United States: ‘Cultural diplomacy’ and trade since fascism to post-war II, in «Italia Contemporanea», vol. 241, 2005, pp. 523–34.
Pretelli, M., (ed.), New Studies on Italians in Australia, special issue of the journal
«Studi Emigrazione», XLVI (176), 2009.
Pretelli, M., The Useless Fifth Column of Mussolini in America, in Mormino, G.,
ed., The Impact of World War II on Italian-Americans: 1935–Present, New York,
American Italian Historical Association, 2007, pp.65–81.
Pretelli, M., The fasci in the United States in the 1920s, in Franzina, E., Sanfilippo, M., (eds.), Il Fascismo e gli emigrati: La parabola dei Fasci italiani all’estero
(1920–1943), Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2003, pp. 115–27.
Violence and racism in the U.S.
In August 2009, I enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the University of Heidelberg. I intend to examine atrocities that were committed in the war between the United
States and Mexico (1846–1848)1, and argue that in this short period of time both
parties were responsible for numerous atrocities. In both cases one example may
suffice as an illustration. On the one hand, in February, 1847, a unit of some one
hundred U.S. volunteer soldiers fell upon a large number of fleeing Mexican civilians and started scalping and killing them. In addition, many of the present women
were raped. At least 25 Mexicans died before other U.S. troops stopped the bloodbath (Chamberlain, 1996, 132–134); (Crawford, 1999, 69); (Yoder, 2006, 77–80). On
the other hand, Mexicans committed acts of extreme violence, as well. An American soldier described the atrocious (allegedly daily practised) killing method of the
enemy guerrilla in the following words: “Woe to the unfortunate [U.S.] soldier who
straggled behind, lassoed, stripped naked, and dragged through clumps of Cactus,
until his body was full of the needle like thorns, his privates cut off and crammed
into his mouth, then left to die in the solitude of the Chapperal or to be eaten alive
by vultures and Coyotes [...]” (Chamberlain, 1996, 116)2.
These atrocities are very rarely treated in historiography, and if they are, opinions such as the one following dominate: “The number of [Mexican] citizens who
were beaten, robbed, or murdered [during the war with the U.S.] will never be
known, but each such incident was a black mark on the record of the American
army in Mexico. Still, however, this army was probably no worse than average with
regard to such behavior in comparison with other nineteenth-century armies”
(McCaffrey, 1992, 210). The purpose of the proposed project is to refute this point of
view because there is evidence enough that especially the U.S. volunteers during
the war committed so many atrocities that their quantity was sufficient “to make
Heaven weep, & every American, of Christian morals blush for his country” (Johannsen, 1985, 35)3. However, not only have these atrocities been overlooked, the
war with Mexico itself does not play any major role in the U.S. public’s opinion4.
The same is true for Mexico. Despite this lack of interest, there are numerous, yet
mainly outdated works on this topic, which is especially true for the U.S. historiography. But many works are highly subjective, do not match scientific standards,
or simply depict things the wrong way. As far as the social and cultural contextualization of the war is concerned, to which the present work will make a major contribution, many gaps have yet not been filled. Thus, in 2007, a historian lamented:
“The social history of the Mexican War remains to be written” (Hospodor, 2000,
149). On the Mexican side, a renowned scholar complained about the absence of
an extensive depiction of the history of the war as early as in 1972. Yet, apart from
those publications that merely give an overview of the war and those which are
regionally limited, scarcely anything has changed since5 (Herrera, 1997); (Vàzquez,
1989); (Vàzquez-Meyer, 2002). Thus, an examination of the U.S.-Mexican war that
includes both sides appears highly profitable per se.
In addition, Mexican atrocities have so far been completely ignored (Levinson,
2005)6. Acts of extreme violence on part of U.S. Americans have been at best inves-
tigated superficially, and there is no monograph in which this aspect is examined
in detail7. Some authors allude to atrocities, but treat them only exemplarily and
tangentially. One important monograph was written by Paul Foos (Foos, 2002). Yet,
he took into account only “some situations” in which atrocities were committed8.
Furthermore, John Pinheiro’s dissertation on the anti-Catholic attitudes during
that time is very helpful (Pinheiro, 2001, 130–216). However, he only considers religiously connoted acts of violence which, in addition, are not in his focus of attention. Randy Yoder’s Master’s thesis is the only study that intends to investigate
atrocities exclusively (Yoder, 2006). Thus, it certainly is very helpful; however it
merely considers several acts of violence committed by Texas Rangers and volunteers from Arkansas. Besides, Yoder, whose analysis cannot match the topic’s
complexity due to its limited scale, for the most part summarizes the existing insufficient works, and omits the Mexican side completely. Consequently, there is no
synopsis, comparison and assessment of the mutual acts of extreme violence. The
intended dissertation aims at filling this gap. In doing so, it reveals important, currently concealed aspects of the U.S. expansion und the U.S.-Mexican war. Cultural
factors such as Manifest Destiny, racism, anti-Catholicism, memories of the recent past, and stereotypes concerning race, class, and gender will for the first time
be identified as being responsible for atrocities in the U.S.-Mexican War. Some authors assess several of these influences (de León, 2008); (Foos, 2002); (Horsman,
1981); (Johannsen, 1985); (Pinheiro, 2001); (Weber, 1979); (Yoder, 2006), but fail to
relate them to the high level of extreme violence. Apart from that, the project represents an important addition in the field of research of historical violence9, whose
present findings will be tested and expanded due to cases of excessive violence
that have yet not been taken into account. The dissertation is of particular importance since it knits together numerous factors that have been identified as relevant
in many analyses of cases of mass violence. In using a multi-causal approach that
takes into consideration structural, situational, and especially cultural factors, tribute will be paid to the complexity of factors that cause the emergence of atrocities.
Thus, a restriction to mono-causal explanations will be avoided. My dissertation
advances the following theses:
• In the U.S.-Mexican war both sides committed numerous atrocities, far more
than usual in international wars of that time.
• U.S. Americans committed more acts of illegitimate extreme violence than
• Many U.S. Americans were obsessed with the ideology of Manifest Destiny10
and therefore were convinced to be chosen by God and to be far superior to
other ethnic groups. This attitude must be considered as a form of racism11
that was (complemented by the absence of a similar ideology on the Mexican
side) jointly responsible for the Americans’ higher inclination towards atroci-
ties. Therefore, this dissertation considers ideology to be a relevant driving
force in cases of extreme violence, but integrates it into the context of further
components since a reduction on the factor of ideology cannot suffice as an
explanation. Since atrocities on the part of Mexicans will also be examined,
it is possible to draw a comparison with the Americans’ acts of extreme violence and to verify the assumption of Manifest Destiny’s joint responsibility
• For the examination of any act of extreme violence, several central causes have
to be taken into consideration. These include not only situational and structural factors (e.g. personal war experiences or the military frame of reference)
but also “race”, gender, class, stereotypes, religion and memories of the recent
past. Strangeness is a factor that is closely linked to these forces and also heavily related to ideology. The stranger the enemy is perceived, the easier it is to
overcome one’s inhibitions to commit atrocities. Extreme acts of violence can
only be fully understood and explained through this complex net of factors.
In order to verify these hypotheses, the dissertation will examine acts of extreme, illegitimate violence against the civilian population, the defenceless and
against captured combatants and partisans.
The types of wartime atrocities, that will be analyzed, range from massacres
(Sémelin, 2007, 15)12, (mass) murders, physical violence, torture, raping and looting
to acts of violence which have a religious connotation. In the 1840s, laws of war
that were internationally binding did not exist, but there was no predominance
of the principle of nullum crimen sine lege either: not only did the public opinion
disapprove of atrocities (Karsten, 1978, 3); (Buß, 1992, 54–60); (Karr, 1998, 879)13,
these were also prohibited by Field Order 20 that was issued by the commanderin-chief of the U.S. troops in Mexico. This decree, which may serve as a further
proof of the high number of atrocities, explicitly sanctioned “murder”, “rape”, “robbery” and “the wanton desecration of churches” and, in addition, ordered the establishment of courts martial that were supposed to punish these and other crimes
(Winthrop, 1920, 832)14.
Methodologically, my project takes up analytical approaches of the extensive
literature on historical research on violence and involves insights originating from
social psychology, anthropology and cultural studies. My Ph.D. thesis intends to
capture, as far as possible, the quantitative extent of the acts of extreme violence.
At the same time, it will, by means of “thick description”, analyze selected model
cases that are supposed to support the assumptions aforementioned15.
Of both sides, the U.S. as well as the Mexican, the dissertation makes use of
newspaper articles, diaries, letters, memoirs, political speeches, leaflets, military
and diplomatic notes and addresses, court records and other source material.
There is a huge number of promising materials which have not yet been exam-
ined in general; not to mention from the approach as outlined here in particular.
Thus, numerous sources are, for the first time, to be used for scientific research.
Many participants of the war published memoirs or diaries. Newspapers frequently printed reports of correspondents, soldiers and travellers. These sources are
especially useful because of being contemporary and being based on first hand
experiences. Last but not least, it is indispensable to examine military records, correspondences, statistics, and similar documents. Records that concern low- and
high-ranking soldiers are to be examined, as well as dossiers that were compiled
for the government, and records of courts martial. Only in doing so, it can be found
out how common atrocities were, how the soldiers experienced them and reported
on them, furthermore, if their commanders took preventive or disciplinary measures, as well as if and in which way atrocities were depicted at the official level.
1. For the causes of the war see (Francaviglia-Richmond Douglas, 2000), (Ruiz,
1963). The best overall depictions remain (Smith, 1919); (Bauer, 1992); (Eisenhower, 2000). However, these works are mostly outdated and lack objectivity.
2. The quote reproduces the source’s orthographical peculiarities.
3. The statement was made by General Winfield Scott about General Zachary Taylor’s troops.
4. Even the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo of 1848, which
put the war to an end and secured a huge area of land for the U.S., was, with the
exception of a few small exhibitions, neglected (Engstrand-del Castillo- Poniatowska, 1998); (Acuña, 2000); (Van Wagenen, 2009). The general public’s lack of
interest in this topic is also indicated by the nearly total absence of Hollywood
movies about the war.
5. In German, there is only one single slim monograph (Solka, 1997) that deals directly with the war, while the studies on its evolution are limited to Frieling and
Reichstein, (Frieling, 2008); (Reichstein, 1984).
6. Levinson emphasizes the importance of the guerrillas and suspects (Appendix
A) that they killed a large part of the 2,800 U.S. soldiers whose cause of death is
unknown. Yet, he completely ignores atrocities.
7. U.S. Americans are not the only ones that find it difficult to admit atrocities
of their soldiers. Cf. the discussions in Germany about an exhibition on war
crimes of the Wehrmacht (Bald-Klotz-Wette, 2006); (Thiele-Günther), 1997.
8. Foos calls the atrocities a “hidden dirty war” and recognizes their connection to
Manifest Destiny but who, nevertheless, treats them rather superficially (Foos,
9. This discipline is supposed to incorporate theories, models, methodologies and
results of all the historical researches that deal with violence (Schumann, 1997,
10.The “invention” of this expression is often attributed to John O’ Sullivan. See:
[Anonymous:] Annexation (Greenberg, 2005, 225–228). As from 1845, the term
got very popular. It reflected the zeitgeist and the convictions of many Americans that ascribed to themselves a divine sense of mission that both justified
and pushed ahead their expansion. This ideology can be traced back to the early
times of colonization and was also relevant in relation towards African and Native Americans. (Junker, 2003, 18f); (Johannsen, 1985, 49–51); (Weinberg, 1935,
1f); (Horsman, 1981, 116–138, 189–207); (Spillmann, 2007, 29–51); (Takaki, 1990,
11.Although the term racism did not arise until the first half of the 20th century,
its application for the present case is legitimate because the underlying phenomenon can be detected much earlier. Its use in the dissertation follows this
definition (Fredrickson, 2002, 170): “[… R]acism exists when one ethnic group or
historical collectivity dominates, excludes or seeks to eliminate another on the
basis of differences that it believes are hereditary and unalterable”.
12.Sémelin understands those as the “mostly collective form of the destruction of
13.In 1806, Congress imposed a binding code of practice for U.S. servicemen: “An
Act for establishing Rules […].” The disapproval of wartime atrocities led to the
Lieber’s Code in 1863 (Schindler, 1981, IX 3–23); (Vönecky, 2002, 424–460).
14.In addition, military commanders issued numerous instructions on the spot
(Smith, 1968, 391–393). In order to get to know the combatants’ normative
frame of reference, several other military manuals will be examined, too. (Cooling, 1979); (Halleck, 1861); (Ney, 1966); (Winthrop, 1920). The Mexican side will
also be taken into account.
15.(Geertz, 2009, 7–43); (Gailus, 1990), may serve as a guiding principle for such a
Acuña R., Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Fourth Edition, New York,
Bald, D., Klotz, J., Wette, J. W., (eds.), Mythos Wehrmacht. Nachkriegsdebatten und
Traditionspflege, Berlin, Aufbau-Taschenbuch-Verl, 2001.
Bauer, K. J., The Mexican War, 1846–1848, Lincoln-London, University of Nebraska
Buß, R., Der Kombattantenstatus. Die Kriegsrechtliche Entstehung eines Rechtsbegriffs und seine Ausgestaltung in Verträgen des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, (Bo-
chumer Schriften zur Friedenssicherung und zum Humanitären Völkerrecht
Band 12), Bochum. Brockmeyer, 1992.
Chamberlain, S. E., Goetzmann, W. H., (ed.), My Confession: Recollections of a
Rogue, Austin, Texas State Historical Association, 1996.
Cooling, B. F., United States Congress: The New American State Papers: Military Affairs, Wilmington, Scholarly Resources, 1979.
de León, A., They Called Them Greasers. Anglo Attitudes toward Mexicans in Texas,
1821–1900, Austin, University of Texas Press, 2002.
Eisenhower, J. S. D., So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846–1848, New
York, Anchor Books, 2000.
Engstrand, I. H., del Castillo, R. G., Poniatowska, E., (eds.), Culture y Cultura. Consequences of the U.S.-Mexican War, 1846–1848, Los Angeles, Autry Museum of
Western Heritage, 1998.
Foos, P., A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair. Soldiers and Social Conflict during the
Mexican-American War, Chapel Hill-London, University of North Carolina
Francaviglia, R. V., Richmond, D. W. (eds.), Dueling Eagles. Reinterpreting the U.SMexican War, 1846–1848, Fort Worth, Texas Christian University Press, 2000.
Fredrickson, G. M., Racism: A Short History, Princeton-Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2002.
Frieling, A., Der Weg zum Amerikanisch-Mexikanischen Krieg: Eine Unausweichliche Eskalation?, Saarbrücken, VDM, 2008.
Gailus, M., Strasse und Brot: Sozialer Protest in den Deutschen Staaten unter besonderer Berücksichtigung Preußens, 1847–1849, Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht,
Geertz, C., Dichte Beschreibung. Bemerkungen zu einer Deutenden Theorie von
Kultur, in Id., Dichte Beschreibung. Beiträge zum Verstehen Kultureller Systeme, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 2009, pp. 7–43.
Gómez, L. E., Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race, New
York-London, New York University, 2007.
Greenberg, A. S., Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire, Cambridge-New York, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Halleck, H. W., International Law, or Rules Regulating the Intercourse of States in
Peace and War, New York, D. Van Nostrand, 1861.
Heer, H., Vom Verschwinden der Täter: Der Vernichtungskrieg fand statt, aber Keiner war dabei, Berlin, Aufbau-Taschenbuch-Verl., 2006.
Horsman, R., Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial AngloSaxonism, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1981.
Johannsen, R. W., To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1985.
Junker, D., Power and Mission. Was Amerika Antreibt, Freiburg im Breisgau, Herder, 2003.
Karr, R. D., `Why Should You Be So Furious?’: The Violence of the Pequot War, in
«Journal of American History», vol. 85, n. 2, 1998, pp. 876–909.
Karsten, P., Law, Soldiers, and Combat, Westport, Greenwood Press, 1978.
Ney, V., Evolution of the United States Army Field Manual, Valley Forge to Vietnam.
Combat Operations Research Group Memorandum 244, prepared [...] for Headquarters United States Army Combat Developments Command, Fort Belvoir,
Virginia 1966, (http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/u?/p4013coll11,562).
Pinheiro, J. C., Crusade and Conquest: Anti-Catholicism, Manifest Destiny and the
U.S.-Mexican War of 1846–1848, Dissertation, University of Tennessee, 2001,
(ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Publication Number: AAT 3039974).
Reichstein, A., Der Texanische Unabhängigkeitskrieg 1835/36, Reimer, Berlin 1984.
Ruiz, R. E., (ed.), The Mexican War. Was it Manifest Destiny?, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.
Schindler, D., Toman, J. (eds.), The Laws of Armed Conflicts. A Collection of Conventions, Resolutions and Other Documents, Alphen aan den Rijn-Rockville,
Henry Dunant Institute, 1981.
Schumann, D., Gewalt als Grenzüberschreitung. Überlegungen zur Sozialgeschichte der Gewalt im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, in «Archiv für Sozialgeschichte», vol.
37, 1997, pp. 366–386.
Sémelin, J., Säubern und Vernichten. Die Politik der Massaker und Völkermorde,
Hamburg, Hamburger Ed., 2007.
Smith, G. W., Charles, B. J. (eds.), Chronicles of the Gringos: The U.S. Army in the
Mexican War, 1846–1848. Accounts of Eyewitnesses & Combatants, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1968.
Smith, J. H., The War with Mexico, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1919.
Solka, M., Der Amerikanisch-Mexikanische Krieg, Wyk auf Föhr, Verl. für Amerikanistik, 1997.
Spillmann, K. R., Amerikanische und Europäische Missionsideen, in Kreis, G., (ed.),
Antiamerikanismus: Zum Europäisch-Amerikanischen Verhältnis zwischen
Ablehnung und Faszination, Basel, Schwabe, 2007, pp. 29–51.
Takaki, R., Iron Cages. Race and Culture in 19th-Century America, New York-Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1990.
Thiele, H. G. (ed.), Die Wehrmachtsausstellung. Dokumentation einer Kontroverse
(Dokumentation der Fachtagung in Bremen am 26. Februar 1997 und der Bundestagsdebatten am 13. März und am 24. April 1997), Bremen, Ed.Temmen, 1997.
Van Wagenen, M. S., Remembering the Forgotten War: Memory and the United
States-Mexican War, 1848–2008, Dissertation, The University of Utah, 2009
(ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Publication Number: AAT 3364927).
Vönecky, S., Der Lieber’s Code und die Wurzeln des Modernen Kriegsvölkerrechts,
in«Zeitschrift für Ausländisches Öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht», vol. 62,
2002, pp. 424–460.
Weber, D. J., “Scarce More Than Apes”: Historical Roots of Anglo-American Stereotypes of Mexicans, in Id., New Spain´s Far Northern Frontier. Essays on Spain in
the American West, 1540–1821, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press,
1979, pp. 295–307.
Weinberg, A. K., Manifest Destiny: A Study of Nationalist Expansionism in American History, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1935.
Winthrop, W., Military Law and Precedents, Washington, G.P.O., 1920.
Yoder, R., Rackensackers and Rangers: Brutality in the Conquest of Northern Mexico 1846–1848, Master’s Thesis, Oklahoma State University, 2006 (ProQuest
Dissertations and Theses. Publication Number: AAT 1440374).
Research Associate at the Curt Engelhorn Chair in American History at the University of Heidelberg.
PhD candidate at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. PhD topic: “Violence and
Racism in the U.S.-Mexican War”.
MA Degree in Medieval/Modern History and Romance Languages at the University of Heidelberg. Grade: “sehr gut (1,2)” (equals A). Thesis: Greasers and Gringos.
Stereotypes, Discrimination, and Violence between Americans and Mexicans in
the Center of the 19th Century.
BA Degree at the University of Heidelberg.
One world in penology? American
penal reformers and the
Much has been written about the history of punishment in the United States, yet
historians rarely acknowledge the international dimension of American penal
practices. This article – which serves as the foundation for my doctoral dissertation
– addresses this lacuna by exploring the complex connections between domestic
and international penal policy. Thus, I examine how American prison administrators, reformers, and scholars participated in, influenced, and were affected by
international penal discourse and international affairs during the years before and
after World War II, a key period of development for the American penal system.
This paper addresses several key questions: What exactly was the role of American penal practitioners, reformers, and scholars in promoting an international
penal reform movement? What did they hope to achieve by participating in an
international prison organization? And how did they understand the relationship
between penal policy at home and events abroad during this critical time? In order
to address these questions, I conducted research in 2009–2010 in archival collections at the United Nations, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Sam Houston State University of
Texas, and elsewhere. These archives offer rich material for focusing on the lives
of individual Americans involved in domestic and international penal matters – as
well as their ideas about crime, punishment, and the possibilities of international
Specifically, my paper follows the careers of James Bennett and Sanford Bates,
two men who in 1929 founded a key American penal administrative body, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and directed it for the next fifty years. During this time,
both men also played a central role in international penal reform. In particular,
they participated in the International Penal and Penitentiary Commission (IPPC),
the central body for international cooperation on penal matters since the late
nineteenth century. Indeed, Bates and Bennett remained fervent supporters of the
IPPC until they attended the organization’s conference in Berlin in 1935. It was at
this meeting that Nazi participants derailed the IPPC’s long history of supporting humanitarian and liberal-minded reform. Despite this traumatic experience,
Bates and Bennett helped to guide the FBP through the difficulties of WWII, forge
a new international penal reform organization within the United Nations, and reshape American prisons in light of new domestic and international challenges.
Thus, I show that American penal administrators’ experience and memory of the
Progressive Era, Nazism, and the Second World War led them to re-imagine the
benefits and pitfalls of international cooperation for decades to come. I also show
that shifting concerns over state sovereignty, internal domestic politics, national
strategic interests, international threats, and the strength of international organizations continually shaped their efforts at home and abroad. Not surprisingly, national identities, religious affiliations, ethnocentric prejudices, geographic boundaries, and a host of other factors complicated their efforts during this time.
With this context in mind, my paper traces American penal administrators’
roots in Progressive-Era reform before exploring the events surrounding the 1936
Berlin conference. Their experience at the conference, and the subsequent challenges of the Second World War, made American practitioners wary of the IPPC
but inspired them to think in newly internationalist terms, linking the development of American penal practices with the fate of democracy abroad. Next, I examine how American administrators participated in international reform in the
post-war period. Bates and Bennett traveled to Germany following the war and
helped direct this rebuilding effort. This experience led them to imagine a newly
energized international penal organization that gave Americans new influence.
Their memory of 1935 and their newfound influence led them to dissolve the IPPC,
moving its activities within the newly created United Nations. I follow their discussions with their European, Latin American, and Asian counterparts in the IPPC
to in order to examine their evolving goals during this period. Finally, I show how
their priorities changed after the United Nations became consolidated. Indeed,
as American administrators grew increasingly confident in the achievements
of American penal policy in the 1950s, they also became increasingly optimistic
about the possibilities for international cooperation. Meanwhile, they steered international prison reform away from the overtly political controversies plaguing
other bodies with the United Nations, instead heralding the supposed neutrality of
technocratic expertise. Yet I argue that as American administrators promoted their
vision of penal reform and international cooperation they often overlooked the
brutal realities of American prisons and also avoided difficult questions about how
international prison reform would be enforced given national differences. These
missteps would ultimately weaken the benefits of an international reform body
and contribute to the crises of the American penal system several decades later.
Ultimately, this paper seeks to fill an important historiographical gap by ex-
ploring the links between domestic and international penal policy. But it also addresses other important topics often overlooked in the scholarship on American
penal policy and international affairs. In exploring the FBP and the IPPC, my paper
examines two key institutions rarely acknowledged in the historiography of American crime and punishment. The direct involvement of American penal administrators in rebuilding German prisons remains almost entirely unacknowledged.
Yet this example is only one of many that show just how deeply intertwined domestic penal policy and international affairs remained throughout the twentieth
century. My paper also seeks to approach penal policy and international relations
with a broader chronological and geographic lens in order to avoid oversimplifying between cosmopolitan and exceptionalist periods in twentieth-century history. Instead, my paper shows that American participation in international penal
efforts dissolves many of these historiographical oversimplifications. Ultimately,
how American penal administrators remembered the 1935 congress, understood
the Second World War, and evaluated their domestic penal achievements in subsequent decades led them to re-imagine the benefits and pitfalls of international
cooperation in complex ways.
PhD Candidate in American History, Department of History, Columbia University.
MA Degree in American History, Department of History, Columbia University.
MPhil in Criminology, Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University (First Class
BA Degree in Social Studies, Harvard University (Magna Cum Laude).
Fellowships – Membership:
Jacob Javits Fellowship, United States Department of Education. Full funding and
annual stipend to undertake doctoral study.
Graduate School of Arts and Science Summer Fellowship, Columbia University.
Summer funding for research on the history of international penal congresses.
Richard Hofstadter Faculty Fellowship, Columbia University. Full funding and annual stipend to undertake doctoral study.
Pforzheimer Foundation Post-Graduate Fellowship, Harvard University (2002–
03). Funding for independent yearlong public-service project on criminal justice
policy and human rights in the former Soviet Union.
Tessler, E., Law and Disorder in the Postcolony: A Review, in «Punishment and Society», vol. 9, n. 4, October 2007.
Tessler, E., Death Row Homepages and the Politics of Compassion, in Cheliotis, L.,
(edited by), Roots, Rites, and Sites of Resistance: The Banality of Good, London,
Palgrave Press, expected 2010.
Tessler, E., Dreams and Disappointments: American Poetry and the Promise of Democracy, in «Jacket Magazine», n. 33, July 2007.
Tessler, E., Untethered Hawsers: Innovation and Meaning in Kenneth Koch’s Fiction, in «Jacket Magazine», n. 31, October 2006.
Tessler, E., Hostage Labor: The Crisis of North Korean Penal Labor in Russia, in
«Memorial», vol. 2, n. 27, 2004.
Tessler, E., Human Rights Around the World, in «Grani Kolokol», n. 1–8, March–
Thi Diem Ngoc Dao
Moving on to a Common Ground:
Vietnam-U.S. Normalization of
Relations after 1975
While studies about a post-Vietnam America are much concerned with the political, psychological, and cultural legacy of the war, recent scholarly attention has
been drawn to how Vietnam and the U.S. came to reconcile their differences and
build normal relations. Historical record on the process of normalization between
two countries are often characterized by the phrase ‘lost opportunities’, which either referred to Vietnam’s failure to seize their chances when the Carter Administration offered normalization under no condition, or the U.S’ slow entry into the
bustling market-oriented Vietnamese economy of the 1990s. Scholars like Edward
Martini characterized the post-1975 U.S. policy toward Vietnam as another war on
the economic, political, and cultural fields, or “the continuation of war by other
means” (Martini, 2007). Nevertheless, I would argue that the legacy of the Vietnam
War as well as the influence of the Cold War created so many roadblocks that the
Vietnam-U.S. normalization of relations could not have taken shape shortly after
the war ended. Thus, my project is intended to explore the complexities of the
normalization process in both Vietnamese and U.S. contexts, as well as to specify
the most important factors contributing to normalized relations after 1975. Principally, I will draw on the following points in my research: 1) the politicization of
the prisoners of war and missing-in-action (POW/MIA) issue 2) the resolution of
the Cambodian problem 3) the weight of mutual economic interests in moving
towards normalization of relations, 4) the role of Vietnamese Americans, among
other interest groups in America, in the establishment of bilateral relations.
Theories and sources
My thesis incorporates theories in international relations and foreign policy analysis to shed light on the process of normalization between two countries. In the U.S.,
establishing relations with foreign countries traditionally rests in the power of the
President, and would normally be comprised of two steps: recognizing a sovereign
state and then establishing diplomatic relations with that state. More broadly, normalization of relations encompasses recognition, diplomatic relations, and political, economic, and social exchange between two governments (Reed, 1996). As
normalization with Vietnam signified more of a closure of the Vietnam War’s bitter
memories, and the beginning of a “No More Vietnam” era, it involved not only the
determination of the executive branch, but also the approval of the American public on the accounting of prisoners of wars or missing-in-actions (POW/MIA) and
the authorization of the U.S. Congress on lifting the trade embargo. This, perhaps,
explained why U.S.-Vietnam normalization was a uniquely long and difficult process which took more than two decades of extensive government-to-government
negotiations and long-term settlement of the political obstacles.
In Vietnam, the decision to normalize relations with the U.S. was caught in
an intense debate between hardliners who upheld communist ideology and did
not want reconciliation with the capitalist U.S., and reformists who supported “expanding relations with capitalist countries for the economic reconstruction of
Vietnam” (Takayuki, 1989). In spite of these debates, normalization was claimed to
be an effective policy instrument for the Vietnamese government at a time when
it wished to secure investment capital from foreign countries to fuel its economic
domestic renovation, to foster political stability in Southeast Asia, as illustrated by
Carlyle A. Thayer and Ramses Amer in their book “Vietnamese Foreign Policy in
Transition”. With international scholars’ discussion and analysis, this book shed
light on Vietnam’s foreign policy of multilateralism and improvement of its relations with China, ASEAN, and the U.S. Vietnamese doctrinal changes in its foreign
policy, from the ai thang ai (who will will over whom) to cung ton tai hoa binh
(peaceful coexistence), as well as its Doi Moi (renovation) policy were argued to be
highly beneficial to its relations with these foreign counterparts.
I also intend to take a look at theories in immigration politics to see how the Vietnamese Americans exerted their influence in American politics, particularly in the
process of Vietnam-U.S. normalization. In so doing, I would draw comparisons
between Vietnamese Americans and Cuban-Americans, who formed a very influential immigrant group in U.S. politics.
This project is undertaken with a blend of historical and political perspectives of
the normalization process. My method of conducting the research will be close
reading of primary sources and secondary literature on the Vietnam-U.S. normalization process. Primary sources are in the form of government documents, memoirs, letters, and newspaper articles. Secondary sources are mainly books, journals,
and research papers. Both Vietnamese and English materials are employed in the
research. Moreover, I intend to use the oral history approach in collecting materials for my research. Insightful interviews of the crucial members of the U.S.
and Vietnamese delegates who participated in the negotiations of the normalization process after 1975, as well as foreign policy-makers who were in charge of the
policy of normalization will be conducted in both countries Vietnam and the U.S.
Structure of my research
My thesis is divided into the five chapters. Each chapter deals with a particular dimension of my research.
Chapter 1: A Sense of Bitterness: Post-war Vietnam-U.S. relations, 1975–1980
This chapter looks at the issue of war reparations as promised in a letter from U.S.
president Nixon to Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in 1973. This became a primary condition that the Vietnamese government required for normalization with the U.S, which was then turned down by President Ford. However,
President Carter was more inclined towards normalizing relations between two
countries with no condition, but the international political scene at the time made
the Carter Administration change course and finally opted for normalization with
China as its priority.
Chapter 2: Myth or Reality? Politicization of the POW/MIA issue
This chapter explores the prominence of the POW/MIA in the U.S. and Vietnamese political contexts. It charts the creation of the “Rambo faction” in Congress,
near-religious believers in the existence of POW/MIAs in Vietnam represented by
the National League of POW/MIA Families, and a myth-driven media following
the controversial POW/MIA issue. What is noteworthy about the two government’s
treatment of the POW/MIA issue was that while both expressed cooperation on
POW/MIA issue as a humanitarian issue separated from any political influences,
“in truth, both knew POW/MIAs were highly political” (Brown, 1997).
Chapter 3: The Cambodian Problem and its Consequences
This chapter addresses the complexity of the Cambodian impasse. In 1978, Vietnamese troops fought against Khmer Rouge groups led by Pol Pot to save, first
the Vietnamese living near the border, and then Cambodians, from Pol Pot’s mass
killings. However, Vietnam’s involvement was often labeled as an invasion, which
made it a potential “expansionary ally of the Soviet Union” (Niehaus, 1979) in the
eyes of the U.S. The U.S. wanted to contain the Vietnamese influence in Cambodia
and stopped the Khmer Rouge genocide, but found itself complicated by the differences among China and ASEAN countries in defining the appropriate role of
the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese influence after the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops (Sutter, 1991). Thus, in the late 1980s, the Cambodian peace process was
put at the core of Vietnam-U.S. normalization.
Chapter 4: Friends or Foes? The Vietnamese Americans’ views on normalization
As the biggest community of overseas Vietnamese, Vietnamese Americans exerted
significant, yet contradictory, influence on the development of U.S.-Vietnam relations. Historian Robert Schulzinger concisely stated that Vietnamese Americans’
“own memories and their continuing contact with family and friends in Vietnam
helped determine the ways in which official relations developed between the
governments of the United States and the SRV” (Schulzinger, 2006). While anticommunist Vietnamese Americans expressed staunched opposition toward normalization with Vietnam, many Vietnamese Americans strongly supported reconciliation between two countries so that ties with their homeland could be better
fostered. This chapter places Vietnam Americans into comparison with Cuban
Americans in the U.S, and measures how immigrant politics would impact on the
making of U.S. foreign policy.
Chapter 5: Vietnam-U.S. Economic Interests
In the early 1990s, the U.S. started to show increasing interests in the dynamic
economies in Southeast Asia, as countries in this region attained impressive economic growth and were more open to international investment. As a second largest country in Southeast Asia with a relatively young population of 70 million
in the 1990s, Vietnam gradually entered into the recognition of world business
competitors while trying to end the U.S. embargo. On the other hand, in introducing market-oriented reforms of eliminating impediments to international trade
and investment, legitimizing the private sector, and increasing the autonomy of
state-owned businesses in late 1980s to jumpstart its under-developed economy
(Craig-Bereuter, 1995),Vietnam was keenly aware of the needs to normalize relations with the U.S. to be integrated in the international community and global economic trends. This chapter draws on the heightening of mutual economic interests, which significantly motivated both sides to put aside “the battle fatigues of a
bygone era” (Terzano, 1993) and normalize relations.
Research to date
A major part of my research so far is done in Germany with primary sources such
as internet archival materials, newspaper articles, and memoirs, as well as secondary sources such as books, journals, and research papers. The Vietnam Virtual
Archive at the Texas University in the U.S. have so far provided invaluable English
sources for me to research about Vietnam-U.S. relations. I have recently spent two
months in Vietnam to do library and archival research. During my research at the
Vietnam National Library in Hanoi, I could find many books, journals, and dissertations relevant to my topic. Most of the Vietnamese books and journal articles
are written by former diplomats and senior researchers on Vietnam-U.S. relations,
which showcase a true picture of the Vietnamese attitude towards normalization.
Archival research at the Vietnam National Archives was not very productive. The
archival files during the years 1945–1985 taken from the Prime Minister’s Office
were temporarily inaccessible at the time of my visit. Future research in Vietnam
is therefore needed to explore more Vietnamese materials for my research.
Brown, F. Z., U.S. Vietnam Normalization – Past, Present, Future, in Morley, J. W.,
Nishihara M. (eds.), Vietnam Joins the World, New York, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1997,
Martini, E. A., Invisible enemies: The American War on Vietnam, 1975–2000, Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 2007.
Niehaus, M., Vietnam 1978: The Elusive Peace, in «Asian Survey 19», n. 1, 1979, pp.
Schulzinger, R. D, A Time for Peace: The Legacy of the Vietnam War, New York, Oxford University Press, 2006.
Sutter, R. G., The Cambodian Crisis and U.S. Policy Dilemma, Boulder, Westview
Takayuki, O., U.S.-Vietnam Relations: The Long Journey to Rapprochement, in Tadashi M. (ed.), Indochina in Transition: Confrontation or Co-prosperity, Tokyo,
The Japan Institute of International Affairs, 1989, pp. 185–192.
Reed, D. E. W., “Domestic Context of U.S.-Vietnam Normalization of Relations.”,
Ph.D. diss, University of South Carolina, 1996.
Testimony of John Terzano. President, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation,
Alexandria, VA, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. U.S. Policy Toward
Vietnam: hearing before the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
103rd Cong., 1st sess., July 21,1993.
Thomas, C., Bereuter D., U.S.-Vietnam relations: Issues and Implications. Report
to Congressional Committees. United States General Accounting Office, 1995.
Ph.D. in American Studies, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, University of
Master of Arts in American Studies, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, University of Heidelberg, Germany; Grade: 1.23 (Very good).
Area of specialization: American Studies
Area of competence: History, Political Science, International Business Culture.
Bachelor of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Honors Program, College of Foreign Languages, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam; Grade: 8.62 (Very good).
Area of specialization: English Language Teaching (ELT).
Area of competence: Applied linguistics.
High school student (English majored), Tran Phu High School for Gifted Students,
Haiphong, Vietnam; Grade: 8.08 (Good).
Translation of: FDI disbursement in Vietnam, published by The Gioi Publishers,
Hanoi, Vietnam, 2010.
Understanding the US Global
On November 30th, 1999, the world woke up to the reality of Americans’ ambivalence toward economic globalization. In the streets of Seattle, an estimated
40,000 protesters from more than a thousand non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) defending human rights, labor, consumer and environmental interests
rose against the international economic agenda of the World Trade Organization.
Both political analysts and social activists spoke of a historic landmark in American trade politics, a milestone for the recognition of the preeminence of social and
environmental values over the logic of the market. Similarly, American political
elites seemed to sense that new winds were blowing. While Clinton urged the need
for “globalization with a human face” (Clinton, 1999), US Secretary of Commerce
William Daley stated that after Seattle, “things would never be the same” (Robin,
2000, 2). Or would they?
At first sight, it seems that the battle of Seattle hardly revolutionized the politics of globalization in the United States over the course of the first decade of the
twenty-first century. Whether one focuses on the liberalization of US-Chinese
trade relations (2000) or on the ratification of a series of bilateral or regional agreements under the Bush administration, “free trade” has continued to be the driving
force of Washington’s foreign economic policy – a principle at time amended to
protect sensible sectors like steel, textile or agriculture. Even the recent discredit
of free market ideology amidst the sharpest financial crisis since the Great Depression has not fundamentally altered the way American decision-makers manage
economic globalization, as witnessed by President Obama’s commitment to reject
protectionist solutions to the crisis at successive G20 summits, or his recent promise to restart the negotiations of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
This relative continuity in America’s trade and investment policy contrasts
with the revolutionary symbolism of the “battle of Seattle”. Ten years after these
landmark protests, can the US-based global justice movement (GJM) be classified
as a short-lived anomaly in the archives of American political history? Or did the
mobilization of anti-/alter-globalist activists since the early 1990s change the politics of globalization in the United States in more subtle ways than is generally acknowledged?
The purpose of this research project is four-fold. First, it analyzes the evolution
of globalization debates in the United States and the emergence of a new political
discourse within civil society designed to influence the ends and means of American domestic and foreign economic policies. Second, it examines the mobilization
of the GJM from the early debates on the North American Free Trade Agreement at
the beginning of the 1990s to the mobilizing efforts of the GJM in the aftermath of
the “Great Recession” with an emphasis on the tactics of the movement and its relations with American political institutions (Congress, the Executive, and the party
system). These analytical tools will serve a third objective: identifying the political
legacy of the GJM in the United States through a close examination of legislative
measures, institution-building and political discourse. Finally, this research project will seek to explain the victories and defeats of the anti-/alter-globalist network
by discussing on the one hand, the ideological and institutional constraints that
the movement faced, and on the other, the political assets that helped it to achieve
some of its objectives.
My research will rely on both primary and secondary sources to analyze the mobilization of anti-/alter-globalization activists and evaluate their influence on
the policy process. It will primarily focus on four interconnected spheres that are
quintessential to the political agenda of the GJM: 1) trade and investment; 2) labor
and human rights; 3) consumer safety and environmental protection; 4) development aid.
My analysis will first rely on discourse analysis to compare and contrast the
perspectives of the main political actors in order to trace the recent evolution of
globalization debates in the United States. To do so, it will draw from a variety of
primary sources including lobbying materials, statements, reports, press releases
as well as congressional testimonies from both anti- and pro-globalists.
In order to gauge the influence of global justice activists on the policy process,
I will also examine the final language of the key domestic and international laws
for or against which segments of the GJM mobilized in the past two decades. I will
complement the study of legislative proposals and international agreements with
secondary sources, drawing from legal experts in various spheres such as trade
and investment, foreign aid, environmental, labor law, etc. These scholarly studies
should provide an objective basis to assess the degree to which policy outcomes
correspond to or contrast with the priorities of anti-/alter-globalists.
To fully understand the challenges and opportunities of the GJM, I will draw
on the series of interviews that I conducted with political actors (2006–2008) as
part of my dissertation research. These semi-structured interviews with more than
twenty activists, lobbyists and decision-makers provided invaluable accounts on
the dynamics of power in the trade and investment policy sphere. I will build on
these connections to contact and interview additional political actors involved in
other advocacy networks such as consumer protection, development aid and climate mitigation.
Tentative book outline
This book will begin with a review of the literature on anti-/alter-globalization activism. The first chapter will construct the empirical and theoretical justification
for a comprehensive and transdisciplinary study of the GJM in the United States
that will seek to reconcile the social movement literature (and its recent outreach to
the fields of International Relations and Global Studies) with the American Politics
corpus on interest groups and political institutions. The second chapter will consist of a historical analysis on the origins of the contemporary debates on globalization. It will identify both the ideological and the organizational processes that
shaped the development of the GJM. Following the steps of Aaronson (Aaronson,
2001). I will trace the roots of anti-/alter-globalization advocacy, by focusing not
only on trade and investment, but also consumer and environmental protection
along with development aid. This chapter will be followed by a discussion of the
contemporary structure of the global justice movement, understood in its broad
sense (McCarthy, Zald, 1977). I will illustrate the heterogeneity of the movement
in two ways: first, by dividing the GJM into several interconnected policy spheres
through network-mapping; and second, by drawing a distinction between “insiders” (i.e. Washington-based interest groups) and “outsiders” (loosely organized
networks of activists or “social movement organizations”). The fourth chapter will
consist of a detailed account of the recent advocacy campaigns undertaken by different segments of the US GJM, among which the mobilization for “fair trade” from
the early debates on the NAFTA to the “May 10th Deal” (2007) between President
Bush and the Democratic Congress, the student antisweatshop campaign of the
late 1990s, the advocacy efforts of environmentalists on behalf of climate mitigation, the US NGOs’ activism for access to life-saving drugs in developing countries etc. The concluding chapter will summarize the key empirical and theoretical findings that emerge from chapter four and highlight the contributions of my
transdisciplinary of analysis to the literature on anti-/alter-globalization activism.
Aaronson, S., Taking Trade to the Streets. The Lost History of Public Efforts to Shape
Globalization, Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, 2001.
McCarthy, J. D., Zald Mayer, N., Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A
Partial Theory, in «The American Journal of Sociology», vol. 82, n. 6, 1977, pp.
Assistant Professor in American Studies, Université Paris Est Marne la Vallée:
American history, American political economy, US foreign policy
PhD in Political Science, City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center.
PhD in North American Studies, Sorbonne Nouvelle University of Paris.
Dissertation title: “‘Free’ or ‘Fair’ Trade: The Battle for the Rules of American Trade
Policy from NAFTA to CAFTA (1991–2005)”.
MA Degree in North American Studies (with distinction), Sorbonne University in
BA Degree in Business and Applied Languages (with distinction), Blaise-Pascal
University of Clermont-Ferrand.
Fellowships – Membership:
Research and Teaching Fellow, Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris: Globalization, the U.S. in the world economy, American politics, business English.
Velut, J.B., Les États-Unis et ‘l’autre crise’: l’aide extérieure américaine à l’épreuve de
la crise alimentaire mondiale, conference proceedings of the annual Congress
of the Institute of the Americas (Paris, November 19–20, 2009), forthcoming.
Velut, J.B., L’Accord de libre-échange avec l’Amérique Centrale vu de Washington:
Débats intérieurs et enjeux internationaux, conference proceedings of the Annual Congress of the Institute of the Americas (Paris, November 20–22, 2008),
2010, pp. 140–147. Available online at: http://www2.institutdesameriques.fr/
Velut, J.B., Rapport d’étape sur l’altermondialisme américain, in «Politique Américaine», n. 15, 2010, pp. 97–123.
Velut, J.B., La politique commerciale de George W. Bush: rupture ou continuité?, in
«Revue LISA / LISA e-journal», vol. 8, n. 1, 2010, pp. 153–165.
Velut, J.B., Libre-échange, inégalités et mobilisation sociale aux Etats-Unis (2001–
2006), in Zumello, C., Zagefka, P., (eds.), Egalité/Inégalité(s) dans les Amériques,
Paris, Editions de l’Institut des Amériques, 2008, pp. 155–165.
Velut, J.B., Les relations interethniques des Acadiens en Louisiane (1755–1877), in
«Revue Francophone Nord-Américaine», n. 19, Spring 2005, pp. 55–79.
“1861–1901 Stati Uniti,
Italia, Germania e
le sfide dell’unità
26–30 giugno 2011
Hotel Mercure Astoria
Viale Leopoldo Nobili, 2
42100 Reggio Emilia (RE)
li anni Sessanta dell’Ottocento segnarono uno spartiacque storico per tre
importanti paesi della Grande Europa euro-americana, gli Stati Uniti, la Germania e l’Italia. Per tutti il decennio fu segnato dalla guerra, perché fu attraverso
guerre che essi raggiunsero o riaffermarono l’unità nazionale. Non è tuttavia per
le guerre degli anni Sessanta che la comparazione fra i tre stati è importante; ma
perché la contemporaneità dei processi di unificazione o riunificazione nazionale
rende più semplice studiarne le conseguenze, vale a dire i modi in cui tutti mossero lungo la via della costruzione della modernità. Se prendiamo quest’ultima come
punto di riferimento la comparazione assume grande interesse, perchè i tre paesi
seguirono percorsi paralleli, ma molto differenziati a secondo del lascito storico
da cui uscivano e delle specifiche e peculiari condizioni in cui si trovavano. Si può
così giungere a scorgere concretamente che, come ormai acquisito dalla ricerca
scientifica, la modernità non è un modello unitario, bensì sistemico, nato nelle
varie nazioni da fasci di processi storici diversi, ma compatibili. La Settima Scuola
estiva intende far comprendere ai partecipanti il quadro comune che è possibile
evidenziare, assieme alle enormi differenze e alle tante contraddizioni presenti
nella storia dei tre paesi nel periodo indicato.
Articolo 1 – Oggetto del bando
Sono messi a concorso complessivi n. 12 posti per la partecipazione alla Settima
Summer School organizzata dal Centro Interuniversitario di Storia e Politica EuroAmericana (CISPEA).
La Summer school, sul tema “1861–1901 Stati Uniti, Italia, Germania e le sfide
dell’unità nazionale”, si svolge dal 26 al 30 giugno 2011.
Con la Summer School il Centro intende fornire un’occasione di formazione avanzata a studenti, laureati e dottorandi di ricerca in campo americanistico (vedi brochure allegata).
L’attività della Scuola si articola in lezioni (che si svolgono al mattino e al pomeriggio) e in discussioni e letture individuali su ciascuno dei temi argomento delle
La sede dei corsi sarà a Reggio Emilia. Agli studenti e alle studentesse saranno forniti gratuitamente, oltre ai materiali didattici, vitto e alloggio.
Articolo 2 – Requisiti
Il bando si rivolge a studentesse e studenti iscritte/i per l’a.a. 2010/11 ai dottorati
dell’area delle scienze politiche e di storia, ai laureati/e e agli studenti/sse dei Corsi
di laurea delle Lauree specialistiche o magistrali delle Facoltà di Scienze politiche,
Lettere e filosofia, Lingue e letterature straniere moderne, ai laureati/e e agli studenti/sse dei terzi anni di quelli delle Lauree triennali delle Facoltà di Scienze
politiche, Lettere e filosofia, Lingue e letterature straniere moderne. E’ titolo pre
ferenziale generale l’aver sostenuto un esame-base di storia degli Stati Uniti. Sarà
data la precedenza ai dottorandi/e, il cui progetto di ricerca riguarda la storia e/o
la politica statunitense e successivamente ai laureati/e e ai laureandi/e dei Corsi
di laurea specialistica o magistrale la cui tesi abbia come argomento questioni e
aspetti della storia e della politica statunitense.
Questi requisiti devono essere posseduti alla data di scadenza di questo bando.
Articolo 3 – Domanda di partecipazione
La domanda dovrà essere redatta su apposito modulo, di seguito allegato, in cui
• i dati anagrafici (nome, cognome, data e luogo di nascita, indirizzo di residenza), un recapito telefonico e indirizzo e-mail;
• la Facoltà, il Dottorato o il Corso di Laurea di appartenenza, il numero di matricola;
• gli esami sostenuti con i relativi voti, date e crediti – nel caso di iscritti a lauree
specialistiche, magistrali e triennali;
• elenco degli esami da superare e relativi crediti – nel caso di iscritti a lauree
specialistiche, magistrali e triennali;
• estremi della carta d’identità (allegare fotocopia).
Il/La candidato/a deve allegare alla domanda il proprio curriculum vitae.
Dottorande/i e laureande/i dovranno altresì indicare il titolo della tesi e il nome del
Ai sensi del Dlgs 445/2000 il Centro può procedere ad idonei controlli sulla veridi
cità delle dichiarazioni sostitutive. Le dichiarazioni mendaci o false sono punibili
mediante sanzione penale e ulteriori sanzioni previste dalle leggi speciali in materia, ferma restando la decadenza dai benefici eventualmente conseguiti con il
provvedimento emanato sulla base della dichiarazione non veritiera e l’obbligo di
restituzione della somma pagata dal Centro per il soggiorno.
I candidati portatori di handicap ai sensi dell’art.3 co.1 della Legge 104/92, se in
possesso dei requisiti richiesti, avranno riconosciuta la preferenza di cui all’art.
4 del presente bando, purché indichino nella domanda (come richiesto al punto
d del modulo di presentazione della stessa) gli estremi dello specifico handicap e
la commissione medica competente per territorio, ex art. 4 della Legge 104/92, al
rilascio della certificazione dello stato di handicap. Sulla base di tali indicazione il
Centro effettuerà i relativi controlli.
Articolo 4 – Modalità e termini per la presentazione delle domande
Le domande di partecipazione dovranno pervenire a: Prof. Tiziano Bonazzi,
CISPEA, Dipartimento di Politica Istituzioni Storia, Strada Maggiore, 45 – 40125
Bologna – entro il 31.5.2011. La data di acquisizione delle istanze è stabilita e comprovata:
• nel caso di presentazione diretta (che può essere effettuata presso la Segreteria
di Direzione del Dipartimento di Politica Istituzioni Storia – dott.ssa Maria Pia
Santarelli – dal lunedì al venerdì ore 9–12): da ricevuta rilasciata dal personale
addetto al ricevimento;
• nel caso di spedizione (che avviene a esclusivo rischio del mittente) la domanda deve pervenire entro la data di scadenza.
Articolo 5 – Graduatorie
L’assegnazione del beneficio avverrà in base a graduatoria stilata sulla base dei
criteri di cui all’art. 2 del presente bando.
In caso di parità in graduatoria, la precedenza verrà accordata alla/al più anziana/o
Le graduatorie verranno affisse presso il Dipartimento di Politica Istituzioni
Storia e pubblicate sulla pagina Web del dipartimento: http://www.dpis.unibo.it/
PoliticaIstituzioniStoria/default.htm a partire dal 9.6.2011
Alle vincitrici e ai vincitori sarà data comunicazione mediante messaggio di posta
Articolo 6 – Tutela dei dati personali
I dati personali trasmessi dai candidati con la domanda di partecipazione al concorso, ai sensi dell’art.10 della Legge 675/96 saranno trattati con strumenti auto
matizzati e non, esclusivamente per le finalità di gestione della procedura concorsuale. In qualsiasi momento le interessate e gli interessati potranno esercitare i
diritti di cui all’art. 13 della Legge 675/96 nei confronti del titolare del trattamento
dei dati (Direttore del Centro Interuniversitario di Storia e Politica Euro-Americana).
26 giugno 2011
Arrivo dei partecipanti
Ore 19 – Daniele Fiorentino, Università di Roma III: “Conferenza introduttiva: Gli
Stati Uniti e l’unità italiana”
27 giugno 2011
Ore 9,30 – Arnaldo Testi, Università di Pisa: “Gli Stati Uniti d’America”
Ore 11 – Discussione
Ore 15,30 – Fulvio Cammarano, Università di Bologna: “L’Italia”
Ore 17 – Discussione
28 giugno 2011
Ore 9,30 – Pierangelo Schiera, Università di Trento: “La Germania”
Ore 11 –Discussione
Ore 15,30 – Jörn Leonhard, Università di Friburgo: “Il liberalismo”
Ore 17 – Discussione
29 giugno 2011
Ore 9,30 – Elisabetta Vezzosi, Università di Trieste: “La questione sociale e lo scontro di classe”
Ore 11 – Discussione
Ore 15,30 – Alberto Melloni, Università di Modena-Reggio; Tiziano Bonazzi, Università di Bologna: “Politica e religione”
Ore 17 – Discussione
30 giugno 2011
Ore 9,30 – Sessione di discussione fra gli allievi e le allieve della Scuola
Ore 11 – Conferenza conclusiva
Prof. Tiziano Bonazzi – [email protected]
Prof.ssa Raffaella Baritono – [email protected]
Sei un ex-alunno?
Chiedi il rimborso
spese per partecipare
all’ultimo giorno della
settima summer school
ome tutti gli anni, la settima edizione della Scuola, dedicata alle sfide dell’unità
nazionale negli Stati Uniti, in Italia e Germania dal 1861 al 1901 (vedi la bro-
chure informativa), prevede un’ultima giornata (30 giugno) dedicata alla discussione tra gli allievi e le allieve sulle tematiche affrontate durante la Scuola (ore
9.30), e una conferenza conclusiva (ore 11) dopo la quale verrà offerto il pranzo.
L’incontro sarà dunque occasione per incontrarci di persona, ricevere le vostre
impressioni sulla newsletter ed eventualmente discutere nuove iniziative degli
ex-alunni. Lo scorso anno è intervenuto Lucio Caracciolo (Direttore della rivista
Limes). Nei prossimi giorni verrà comunicato il relatore e il tema della conferenza
di quest’anno. Intanto, vi comunichiamo che, grazie all’impegno dell’Istituto Banfi
e della Cooperativa Boorea di Reggio Emilia, abbiamo disponibili contributi per il
viaggio di non più di 50 euro a testa per una dozzina di persone. La priorità verrà
ovviamente data a coloro che arrivano da più lontano. Cercheremo inoltre di tenere conto della vostra posizione, se siete studenti, dottorandi senza borsa o se
non avete lavoro. Vi chiediamo, pertanto, di scrivere all’indirizzo e-mail [email protected]
lett.unipmn.it con queste informazioni per confermare la vostra presenza nella
giornata del 30 giugno, indicando il vostro domicilio e la vostra posizione. La data
ultima entro la quale vi chiediamo la conferma è sabato 11 giugno. Vi aspettiamo
numerosi a Reggio Emilia e restiamo in attesa di una vostra risposta.