Events

Modern Times in North Korea: Scenes from its Founding Years, 1945-1950

December 15, 2014 // 4:00pm5:30pm
North Korea is often portrayed in mainstream media as a backward place, a Stalinist relic without a history worth knowing. But during its founding years (1945-1950), North Korea experienced a radical social revolution when everyday life became the primary site of political struggle, including quite deliberately a feminist agenda. With historical comparisons to revolutions in the early 20th century, Suzy Kim introduces her recent book through rarely seen archival photos, situating the North Korean revolution within the broader history of modernity.

Human Rights Before Carter

December 08, 2014 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Underlying much of the writing on United States foreign relations is the conviction that human rights were of limited consequence in policymaking during the 1960s and the early 1970s. Snyder's current research, however, shows that efforts to emphasize human rights began in the 1960s, driven by nonstate and lower-level actors and facilitating the issue’s later prominence due to the development of the networks and tactics critical to greater institutionalization of human rights in these years.

Waking from the Dream: the Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King

December 01, 2014 // 2:28pm5:30pm
Exaggerated accounts of urban violence after Martin Luther King’s assassination, David Chappell will argue, have long obscured national reactions of far greater significance. Most important was the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which had been hopelessly stalled in Congress since 1966.

The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the Revolutionary World, and the Fate of Empire

November 17, 2014 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Britain seemingly should have won the Revolutionary War. Its failure to do so is commonly assumed to be due to the incompetence of commanders and the politicians who are ridiculed in fiction and in movies. Although less crudely presented, such caricatures even permeate scholarly literature. The talk will challenge the stereotypes and offer a very different explanation of why Britain lost the American War of Independence.

Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate

November 03, 2014 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Forty years after Watergate forced Richard Nixon to resign, Americans still ask why he launched the cover-up that destroyed his presidency. Ken Hughes traces the origins of Watergate back to the final days of the 1968 presidential campaign, when the Nixon campaign sabotaged Vietnam peace talks for political gain, and argues that Nixon’s ultimate loss of the White House was rooted in an obsession with seizing the evidence of the crime by which he gained the presidency in the first place.

The AIDS Conspiracy: KGB and Stasi Disinformation

October 28, 2014 // 3:00pm5:00pm
In the second half of the 1980s, the KGB conducted an international disinformation campaign accusing the U.S. of having artificially constructed the virus that causes AIDS at the Pentagon’s laboratory for biological warfare in Fort Detrick, Maryland. On the basis of his research with scholar Christopher Nehring in the archives of the former communist secret police in Bulgaria, Germany, and the Czech Republic, Douglas Selvage will present new details about the disinformation campaign and the key supporting role played by the KGB’s “fraternal organ,” the East German Ministry of State Security or Stasi.

Sino-Soviet Relations and the Dilemmas of Socialist Bloc Cooperation: Czechoslovaks in Shanghai, 1956-57

October 27, 2014 // 4:00pm5:30pm
In contrast to traditional approaches to Sino-Soviet relations that focus on ideological conflict and the role of powerful personalities such as Chairman Mao and Nikita Khrushchev, Austin Jersild draws on the experiences of advisers in China in the 1950s to place the Sino-Soviet alliance and split within the broader history of socialist bloc cooperation and the Cold War competition with the United States.

Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the Moderates who Ended the Cold War

October 20, 2014 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Based on significant new international research, Domber reassesses the nature of Western influence on the end of the Cold War, highlighting where Soviet reforms created space for change in Eastern Europe and rejecting claims of any direct U.S. responsibility for the collapse of Communism.
Photo: Wenceslas Square, 17 November, 1989
Webcast

Promoting Free Media: Informing the 1989 Velvet Revolution and the Challenge Today

October 16, 2014 // 2:00pm6:00pm
Czechs and Slovaks regained their freedom in November 1989 through non-violent protests in Prague, Bratislava, and other towns of then Czechoslovakia. Their Velvet Revolution climaxed a decade of renewed civic challenges to a repressive Communist regime that began with Charter 77 dissidents including Vaclav Havel and accelerated after 1986. Twenty five years after the Velvet Revolution, Europe today is whole and free, but democracy and prerequisite independent media are on the decline in much of the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. RFE/RL, now operating from Prague, VOA, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Network, and Radio Marti, all publicly funded by the U.S. Congress, work to redress the information deficit.

Film Screening: "Liberty Train, Next Stop Freedom"

October 10, 2014 // 3:00pm6:00pm
"Liberty Train, Next Stop Freedom" portrays the dramatic events surrounding the mass occupation of the West German embassy in Prague by East German refugees seeking permission to leave for the West. Negotiations between East and West Germany in late September 1989 led to their release and their travel by special trains from Prague to West Germany via the GDR on a chilly night at the end of September. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with two Germans who grew up and experienced the revolutionary changes of 1989-90 in East Germany.

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Charles Kraus // Program Assistant
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • Roy O. Kim // Program Assistant