One month ago I defended my dissertation proposal. Since then I have begun fully delving into my primary source research. This blog is a record of my dissertation process. If a dialogue develops because of this blog, that’s great. If not, that’s cool too. I just want to keep a record of my successes and failures, my frustrations and breakthroughs. I intend this blog to be part dissertation tool and part journal. Considering that my dissertation is my largest academic endeavor to date, I thought it might be a worthwhile process to document.
Besides complaining about how much I hate my work, I will post about primary documents, books, articles, archives, and any other materials that I find valuable, or invaluable, along the way. By recording my progress I hope to develop new perspectives on my work. Apart from being a record of my progress, I envision this blog being a tool for others who are researching similar subjects. Because of the wide ranging nature of my research, my research should be of interest to a wide range of historians as well as a diverse field of scholars.
Apart from introducing the blog itself, this first post will also generally introduce the subject of my dissertation. It is tentatively titled “The Search for Solidarity: An International History of the Nicaraguan Revolution, 1978-1990.” Here is a general introduction to the work: the Cold War history of the Third World can be defined as torn between two antithetic forces: revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries. Globally these movements spanned the ideological spectrum from right to left. Generally revolutionary movements fell on the left end of the spectrum, advocating some form of socialist or communist program. These national liberation movements also sought to remove colonial regimes, whether they were homegrown or extraterritorial, and exercise the right to self-determination. The National Liberation Front for South Vietnam, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the African National Congress all embodied this anti-colonial movement. However, revolutionary violence was not the sole purview of leftist organizations. Right-wing movements sought to oust leftist governments or challenge other revolutionary movements. During the latter half of the twentieth century Nicaragua saw revolution and counterrevolution from both sides of the ideological spectrum. The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FLSN, or Sandinistas) sought to overthrow the authoritarian and kleptocratic regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, and the Contras sought the overthrow of the Sandinista government after the successful ouster of Somoza.
During the 1970s and 1980s a surprising amount of world attention focused on the small Central American nation of Nicaragua. Violence rocked the nation roughly the size of the state of Illinois twice between 1978 and 1990. First, a broad coalition of revolutionary forces lead by the FSLN struggled to overthrow the regime of General Somoza. After successfully ousting Somoza, the FSLN was then forced to fight a protracted civil war against the U.S.-backed Contras. After more than a decade of bloody struggle and thousands of deaths, the Sandinistas were voted out of power and replaced by a government more amenable to the wishes of the United States. Much of the history of this struggle has been documented but the international dimensions of the struggle remain largely unexplored. This study will seek to explore the international dimensions of the Nicaraguan revolution, examining the various manifestations of Third World and North American/European solidarity with both the Sandinistas and Contras.
Hopefully I keep up on this blog and don’t forget about it over the coming months. I look forward to documenting the process and seeing where this blog goes.