Posts Tagged 'Michael Donoghue'

Where in the World Are MU Historians?

Years ago PBS aired a popular children’s show called “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” With the clever live-action sketches, animation, and an acapella group, viewers learned geography—not just where a country was on a map, but how the people of those countries lived.

One of the primary objectives of Historians@Work is to present the many “journeys” taken by MU historians and students.  Some are figurative, but many are literal.  The latter is certainly the case in this installment, as we learn about the upcoming summer research adventures of a half dozen of our associate professors.  Each was recently awarded funding from Marquette’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, which grants Summer Faculty Fellowships (stipends) and Regular Research Grants (for travel expenses) to two or three dozen Marquette faculty each year.

This summer our band of historians will outdo the fictional Carmen San Diego, as they conduct research in Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Germany, Ireland, and Italy, as well as Virginia, California, and Chicago.

This year’s awards, worth over $50,000, made history for our department—we have never received so many awards in a single year. This obviously reflects the interesting subjects these historians are exploring, as well as the success of their previous research.  Below, in their own words, you can read about their projects and their travel plans.

Michael Donoghue: Race, Identity, and Gender in U.S. Military-Cuban Relations 1941-1964  I plan to travel to Cuba and Virginia this upcoming summer to investigate the local records of U.S. Military-Cuban relations from 1941-1964 in Havana and Guantánamo City, Cuba and at the Marine Historical Division in Quantico.  3The focus of my research is on the intersections of race, identity, and gender that occurred between U.S. military personnel and the Cuban people from World War II until the closing of the U.S. Guantánamo naval base from Cuban contact in 1964 – and how these interactions contributed to the anti-American atmosphere of the Cuban Revolution.  I hope that this project will make a significant contribution toward our understanding of the many strands and forces that helped shape the Cuban Revolution beyond, high status actors, larger events, and economic indices, as it focuses on the personal and social relations that contributed to many revolutionary processes.  Michael is author of Borderland on the Isthmus: Race, Culture, and the Struggle for the Canal Zone (2014).

Alison Clark Efford, Suicide and Immigrant Emotions, 1882-1924  I received funding for two research trips, one to San Diego to investigate suicides among Japanese immigrants in the early twentieth century and the other to Chicago to research suicide, immigrant Catholicism, and the influential “Chicago School” of sociology. My larger book project explores the negative emotions that sometimes accompanied immigration by addressing the extensively documented act of suicide. I probe the inner lives of a variety of immigrants and shows how suicides drew wider attention to immigrant emotions. As early as 1861, the New York Times noted that the foreig1n-born accounted for about a third of the city’s population but three-quarters of its recorded suicides. By the turn of the century, the suicidality of immigrants was accepted as common wisdom. Whether commentators thought it reflected ethnic characteristics or the trauma of relocation, immigrant suicide became entangled with fears about alienation in modern society and rapid demographic change.  Alison is author of German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (2013)

Lezlie Knox, Mariano of Florence and Religious Life in Cinquecento Italy.    Mariano was a prolific author—in less than 25 years, he wrote fifteen treatises in both Latin and Italian.  These works range from shorter works on devotional themes to lengthy—really lengthy–histories of his religious order (male, female, and lay branches of the Franciscan Order) and his native Tuscany.  Many of these works remain in manuscript, due in no small part to Mariano’s cramped handwriting!  This grant will fund my completion of archival work in Italy, as well as time to do work at the Antonianum, the Franciscan Order’s pontifical university in Rome, which has one of the best libraries for my subject.  However, I am not just interested in Mariano as a Franciscan historian, but also in the ways his works describes religious culture in the towns and ecclesiastical centers of late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Italy.  My study of his life and writings contributes to a broader 2understanding of society and culture during the later Middle Ages, particularly one which approaches that era as vital in its own right rather than symptomatic of later medieval decay or, conversely, a threshold to the humanistic attractions of the Renaissance.  Lezlie is author of Creating Clare of Assisi: Female Franciscan Identities in Later Medieval Italy (2008) and co-editor of the forthcoming Visions of Sainthood in Medieval Rome:  The Lives of Margherita Colonna by Giovanni Colonna and Stefania.  She has also received a $3000 Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society to help fund this research.

Laura Matthew: Circulations: Death and Opportunity on Mesoamerica’s Costa del Sur, 1500-1630  I will devote the summer to research for a book-length project examining migration, networks, and trade along Mesoamerica’s southern Pacific6 Coast in the century after European invasion. The SFF and RRG will fund a deep foray into the Guatemalan national archives, a first exploration of the regional archives of Chiapas, and travel along the routes described in the documents to achieve a more grounded sense of the places and spaces she is writing about.  Laura is author of Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala (2012), recipient of the 2013 Howard F. Cline Memorial Prize from the Conference on Latin American History and the 2013 Murdo MacLeod Prize from the Southern Historical Association. 

Timothy G. McMahon, Beyond the Boundary Commission: Partitioned Identities in Modern Ireland   The United Kingdom government partitioned the island of Ireland through legislation in 1920, creating two states that claimed distinct identities (Northern Ireland as British, the Irish Free State as Irish). Partition had, however, been proposed and rejected on two prior occasions by many of the people who seemingly embraced it in the 1920s. A the new states sought to reinforce the distinctiveness of their populations, people living on either side of the new border continued to interact in spite of the new reality. The present project builds on the work of Rogers Brubaker to propose a new way of thinking about how the reality of a novel state boundary shaped identities, examining the 4interdependence of daily lived experience with movement politics and parliamentary legislation. Given the recent Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the possible shake-up of the United Kingdom—which has already seen calls from some in Scotland to secede and from some in Ireland and Northern Ireland to examine the relevance of the existing border—a detailed study of identity formation on this frontier has both historical and contemporary relevance. My proposal will enable me to undertake three weeks of archival research in Dublin and Belfast before spending approximately six weeks drafting an article to address the changed attitudes of the early 1920s.  Tim is author of Grand Opportunity: The Gaelic Revival and Irish Society, 1893-1910 (2008) and editor of the memoir Pádraig Ó Fathaigh’s War of Independence: Recollections of a Galway Gaelic Leaguer (2000).

Peter Staudenmaier, The Politics of Blood and Soil: Environmental Ideals in Nazi GermanyMy project aims toward a book manuscript examining controversial historical questions about the role of environmental protection efforts and ecological sustainability within the Nazi regime. Though scholars in a variety of fields recognize the prominence of “blood and soil” ideology in the Third Reich – the belief in an essential link between natural regeneration and racial renewal – there is no consensus on its historical significance or practical relevance. My research represents the first comprehensive analysis of the topic, based on extensive archival research5 over the past five years. It is structured around three main case studies: the emergence of early alternative agricultural movements during the Weimar era and their reception under Nazi rule; the role of Nazi “advocates for the landscape” in environmental planning during the Third Reich; and the ecological components of Nazi policy in conquered territories in Eastern Europe during World War II. I plan to use the Summer Faculty Fellowship to complete the final stages of research and begin writing the book.   Peter is author of Between Occultism and Nazism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era (2014).


Duran and I

By Michael E. Donoghue

Duran and his LionI first met Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán, the famous “Hands of Stone” whose biographical movie of the same name has just been released this month (click here to watch a trailer), when I walked by his ornate home in the El Carmen section of Panama City on the way to a taxi to the National Library. He was getting into a car, surrounded by family and handlers, and I simply waved to him and called out “Buenos dias, campeon!  (“Good morning, champ!”)  He smiled and waved back and once even shook my hand with a grip so hard, it hurt. Whenever I walked by his home, I was always looking for Durán’s 700-pound lion Walla, which had been given to him as a cub. The champ would sometimes wrestle Walla in his backyard as a full grown lion until the Panamanian government forced him to put Walla in a zoo.

I met Durán on two other occasions several years later when I interviewed him for a research project. I was in the company of Rubén Carles, former economic minister of Panama. We met the boxer in his raucous restaurant/bar in the El Cangrejo section of the capital city. Even at the age of sixty-three, and wearing a scraggly beard, Durán still emanated the aura of a legend with penetrating dark eyes and a powerful physical presence.   He gave me the threatening glare he often directs at strangers who want something from him.  He warmed up after Rubén vouched for me.  Durán also respected the fact that I knew a lot about his career, especially his relationship with General Omar Torrijos, the military leader of Panama from 1968-1981 (he negotiated the 1977 treaty that transferred the Canal from the United States to Panama).  Torrijos was a sort of father figure to Durán; the latter had grown up on the streets, in horrendous poverty, as one of thirteen children. His father, a Mexican-American in the U. S. military, had abandoned him when Roberto was very young.

Durán rose out of that poverty to build an amazing boxing career. Over thirty-three years—from the age of seventeen to fifty—he boxed 119 fights, winning 103 (seventy of them knockouts). He won five world titles and established himself as one of the three or four greatest nationalist heroes in Panamanian history, as well as a favorite of boxing aficionados around the world. Ranked by several boxing journalists as one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters who ever lived (“The Fifth God of War,” one called him), Durán especially dominated the lightweight division (135 pound class), which he held for an unprecedented seven years (1972 to 1979).  He then went on to win the welterweight crown (147 pound class) in 1980, the junior middle weight title (154 pound class) in 1983, the middle weight championship (160 pounds) in 1989, and, finally, at the age of forty-eight, a share of the super middle title (168 pounds) in 2000.

Durán’s unique persona—ferocity mixed with empathy—intimidated his opponents but endeared him to his countrymen, who called him “Cholo” (“Indian”). They saw him as a representative of the mestizo majority of his country, the mixture of Hispanic and indigenous heritage that many Panamanians embrace. While researching my book on the Panama Canal Zone, Borderland on the Isthmus (2014), I came across Durán often in the literature as the personification of Panamanian pride and national identity during the long struggle to establish true sovereignty in the wake of U.S. dominance in the Canal Zone, a colonial enclave. Their second-class status offended Panamanian dignity and impeded the construction of an authentic nation.

When I sat down to interview “El Cholo,” he brushed off many of my questions with scowls and impatience—and an occasional playful though fearsome grin. You always had the feeling when you spoke to Durán and he looked at you that way that he might just take a swing at you. Durán was used to fielding inquiries about his fights so he seemed pleased when I switched my approach and asked him about something different: his friendship with the General Torrijos.  He told me the general would provide him with training facilities, even putting him on the island of Contadora, away from liquor, rich food, and other distractions while getting ready for a fight.   But the general was also very kind and generous to him and treated him like a favored son providing him with flights, vacations, and homes when he needed to get back to Panama or wanted some down time from his tough fight schedule.  The general even forgave him when Durán infamously quit in the ring during his rematch with American boxer “Sugar Ray” Leonard in November 1980 (Durán had upset Leonard earlier in the year). The second fight was the celebrated “No más” fight. The overweight champ had failed to train properly for the bout and grew frustrated with Leonard’s agile, fluid boxing style.  Leonard had not fought that way in their first fight.  Much of Panama turned against their hero when he quit in the ring, saying “No más” (“no more”).  Giving up in that way was an unimaginable violation of the macho code that Durán had upheld his whole life.

Durán regained his nation’s love and admiration when he came back and won another championship three years later. But tears welled up in his eyes when he spoke of his sorrow at Torrijos’ shocking death in a still controversial plane crash in 1981 before Durán had a chance to fully redeem himself in his mentor’s eyes.  You could sense the love he still held for Torrijos who had nurtured and championed young Roberto earlier in his career.  He still misses the general deeply.  These reflections shaped the writing of my essay “Robeto Durán, Omar Torrijos, and the Rise of Isthmian Machismo” that was published last year in David M.K. Sheinin’s (ed.) Sports Culture in Latin American History (2015).

Roberto Duran and Me IIThe last time I saw the champ was in January 2016. I was returning from dinner with friends and stopped at his tavern.  Durán is not there every evening but he was in fine form that night drinking rum, dancing to the salsa band in his club, even getting up and singing with them which he insisted I do as well.  I danced and drank with him and his family and was surprised that he remembered me – and even called me “Miguelito,” my “apodo” (nickname) in Panama.  The snapshot of the two us is from that night.  It offers a glimpse of the both the danger and the humanity that Durán exudes.  I look forward to seeing the movie about his life in the coming days.  Viva Durán!  And Viva Panama!

Michael E. Donoghue is associate professor of history and author of Borderland on the Isthmus: Race, Culture, and the Struggle for the Canal Zone (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014). His current research is Race, Gender, and Identity in U.S. Military-Cuban Relations 1941-1964, which will examine the conflicts and intersections of race, identity, and gender that emerged between US military and the Cuban people from World War II until the 1959 collapse of the Batista regime – and how these associations contributed to the anti-American atmosphere of the 1953-1959 Cuban Revolution.

History Faculty Win Funding for Research on Fascists, Friars, and Foreign Relations.

Historians at Marquette, like their colleagues everywhere, require two kinds of resources to conduct their research: the funding to travel to archives and the time to write. Marquette University expects its scholars to seek funding from such agencies as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, to name just two of the larger funders of humanities and social science research, as well as from smaller, more specialized organizations and from archives. But faculty can also apply for summer research funding—that’s when much of the serious research and writing takes place–through a competitive process administered by the Committee on Research (chaired this year by our own Tim McMahon!). Summer Faculty Fellowships offer a stipend (read time), while Regular Research Grants pay for travel to collections. Dozens of MU faculty apply each year; less than half are approved. (You can find out more about the COR and the funding programs its members administer at

The Committee on Research made three awards to historians this year, which will take their recipients to Germany, Italy, and Cuba to research, respectively, “the unlikely entanglement between environmental ideals and fascist politics,” the life of an “the lived experiences of a fairly ordinary Franciscan friar and his contemporaries during a period of religious turmoil,” and the “intersections of race, identity, and gender” in the relationship between the American military and Cubans living near and working on the US based at Guantánamo. Brief descriptions of these fascinating projects follow.

Peter Staudenmaier: The Politics of Blood and Soil: Environmental Ideals in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy 

The controversial history of early environmentalism in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy is not well understood. Though scholars in a variety of fields recognize the role of “blood and soil” beliefs in the two regimes – that is, the attempt to link natural regeneration with racial renewal – there is no consensus on their historical significance or practical relevance. Detailed staudenmaier  empirical studies remain rare. My project represents the first comparative analysis of the topic based on archival research. It is structured around a series of case studies, including the history of organic farming under the Nazi regime and the Fascist campaign for ruralization in 1930s Italy. But the project as a whole goes well beyond these specifics. I aim to present a comprehensive historical analysis of the unlikely entanglement between environmental ideals and fascist politics. This is a classic “second book” project, with a full-length monograph as the eventual outcome. It represents an important new phase in my scholarship, and I expect the book to make a provocative contribution not just to historical debates but also to ongoing public discussion of vital and timely questions about environmental sustainability and its political contexts.  Staudenmaier is assistant professor and author of Between Occultism and Nazism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era (Brill, 2014).

Lezlie Knox: Mariano of Florence: An Ordinary Friar in an Extraordinary Time

This biographical study of Fra Mariano of Florence (d. 1523) explores the lived experiences of a fairly ordinary Franciscan friar and his contemporaries during a period of religious turmoil both within his own religious order and in the Roman Church more generally in the decades prior to the Reformation.  Mariano performed ordinary clerical duties throughout his life, but also found the time to research aclarend write fifteen treatises on his order’s history and noted members.  My research project uses these writings (some of which exist only in manuscript copy) to explore daily life in the friaries and convents of central Italy at the end of the Middle Ages.  It also assesses how important debates over what it meant to be a Franciscan played out at a local level, a subject that is frequently overlooked in favor of conflict at the level of the Order’s leadership. This proposal specifically seeks funding to travel to Florence, Italy in June-July 2015 in order to read Mariano’s autograph manuscripts and research archival documents related to the communities in which he lived.  Lezlie Knox is associate professor, Director of Graduate Studies, and author of Creating Clare of Assisi: Female Franciscan Identities in later Medieval Italy (Brill, 2008).

Michael Donoghue: Race, Identity, and Gender in U.S. Military-Cuban Relations 1941-1964

I plan to travel to Cuba next summer to investigate the local records of U.S. military-Cuban relations from 1941-1964 in Santiago, Guantánamo City, and Caimanera.  The focus of my research is on the intersections of race, identity, and gender that occurred between U.S. military personnel and the Cuban people from World War II until the closing of the U.S. Guantánamo naval base from Cuban contact in 1964.  The main focus of my research is how these interactions contributed donoghueto the anti-American atmosphere of the Cuban Revolution.   The U.S presence resulted in numerous binational encounters.  Some were negative that included brawls, crimes, the growth of a sex industry, and narcotics sales.  Other had more positive impacts such as cultural and economic exchanges, service jobs, intermarriages, and joint interests in sports, religion, and spectacle.  This study will examine the impact of these encounters in transforming what was once regarded as Washington’s closest alliance in the Caribbean into one of intense hostility by 1960.   My third trip to Cuba will be concentrate on finishing up my research in the archives of Santiago and Guantánamo City and also conducting more interviews with retired Cuban workers from the base and local service industries that catered to Americans. This project will make a significant contribution toward our understanding of the many strands and forces that helped shape the Cuban Revolution beyond, high status actors, larger events, and economic indices, as it focuses on the personal and social relations that drove so many revolutionary processes.  Michael Donoghue is associate professor and author of Borderland on the Isthmus: Race, Culture, and the Struggle for the Canal Zone (Duke, 2014).


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