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Front Matter

Front Matter

Front Matter for UCLA Historical Journal Volume 24

Letter from the Editors

Rosenfeld Letter from the Editor

This volume of the UCLA Historical Journal explores the relationship between “the history of politics and the politics of history.” The editors chose this issue’s five articles from papers presented at the 2012 History Graduate Student Association Conference, entitled “History Plus.” These articles illustrate UCLA Historical Journal’s emphasis on historical scholarship that embraces an interdisciplinary approach. I wish to thank the authors for submitting their articles to the Journal for discussion, and the editors for their contributions during the publication process. The current volume of the UCLA Historical Journal is possible because of the continued commitment and support of the UCLA History Department’s faculty and staff, including our Department Chair, David N. Myers, and our Graduate Advisors, Eboni Shaw and Hadley Porter. Also, I would like to thank our History Graduate Student Association Presidents, Kristen Hillaire Glasgow and Brian Kovalesky. Finally, I extend my gratitude to the Graduate Student Association Director of Publications, Stacey Meeker, for her unwavering patience and guidance. I am confident that this issue of the UCLA Historical Journal raises new questions for conversation and contributes to current historiographical literatures. I am pleased to present it to our readers.


Reproducing Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro

Slave women’s reproductive practices are central to understanding the gradual emancipation process in Brazil. In 1850, Brazil finally gave in to British political pressure and ended its trans-Atlantic slave trade. As a slave society reliant on the external reproduction of labor, Brazil now became a society beholden to the natural reproduction of its female slaves. In 1871, the Brazilian parliament passed the Law of the Free Womb, which freed the unborn children of all slave women. In 1885, the Sexagenarian Law freed all slaves over the age of 60. Finally, in 1888, full abolition occurred. Using court cases, medical journals, and legislative debate, this paper looks at the rhetoric surrounding slave women’s reproductive and maternal practices. I argue that initially, Brazilian elites saw women’s fertility control practices as resistance to their enslaved state. Yet legal debates allowed slave women theoretical access to upper-class white feminine virtues such as sexual honor and motherhood, setting the stage for post-1871 readings of slave reproduction as the fulfillment of women’s natural roles as mothers. While pro-slavery stalwarts argued against the 1871 Law of the Free Womb by citing future high infant mortality rates, none blamed these possible increases on slave women’s fertility control practices, suggesting that they too saw slave women’s natural roles as maternal. Free black women, for their part, used the maternal roles available to them to guarantee their freedom as well as that of their children. In the end, motherhood became social capital that female slaves used to petition the state for equal rights.

Triumph & Commemoration: Collective Imagination and the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Controversy

This study reassesses the meaning of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ controversy of 2010 through the lens of urban sociology and collective imagination. It utilizes the imaginative fruits of civic forums, such as “Imagine NY” and “Listening to the City,” to determine New Yorkers’ collective vision for the rehabilitation of Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11. Articulated as a clarion call for the manifestation of commemoration and triumph over terrorism in the New York cityscape, it is this concept of collective imagination that became the litmus test for revitalization efforts in the downtown district.  Years later, the proposal of the Park51 Community Center—what the media dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque”—failed the test, igniting perhaps the most heated debate in the history of urban planning. This article argues that the Park51 Community Center, as it was represented in the press, was a violation of collective imagination regarding how the space—incorporating the World Trade Center site and the contiguous area—should be used and that this violation came to bear on New Yorkers’ rejection of the project. The community center, referred to without exception as a “mosque” and almost always as being “at” Ground Zero, defied—in this context—popular visions for commemoration and the physical embodiment of American triumph in Lower Manhattan’s urban landscape.  

The Arch of a Sephardic-Mizrahi Ethnic Autonomy in Palestine, 1926 to 1929

This article explores the efforts of Sephardic-Mizrahi leadership to achieve political and cultural independence in the Yishuv between 1926 and 1929. In tracing their  attempts for intra-Jewish ethnic autonomy, I trace the formation of separate Sephardic-Mizrahi settlements and communities, including the inception of a Sephardic bank and establishment of an international Federation with its own economic resources. I examine how and why Sephardic-Mizrahi leaders proposed the idea of a separate “Sephardic-Mizrahi autonomy,” throwing light on Sephardic-Mizrahi agency, chiefly as a result of a growing sense of discrimination within the Jewish community of Palestine. Additionally, I contend that Sephardic-Mizrahi political initiatives evolved in tandem with an internalization of a timeless sense of Sephardic-Mizrahi inferiority, sentiments that continued (and perhaps still continue) to be relevant the discourse about Sephardim and Mizrahim in contemporary Israel and the broader Jewish world.

The Iranian Legacy in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution: Military Endurance and US Foreign Policy Priorities

In the latter half of the twentieth century, militaries have been a major source for change in the Middle East.  In 1952, radical nationalist military officers staged the overthrow of the Egyptian monarchy and proclaimed a republic. A year later, the Iranian military, in collusion with the American CIA and the British MI-6, toppled Iran’s democratically-elected government. In the same decade, Iraqi military officers, following on the heels of their Egyptian counterparts, ousted the monarchy in Iraq and likewise established a republic.   Militaries were indeed a force for radical change and often became the final arbiters of power.  However, they also frequently served as stalwart defenders of the status quo.  During the 14-month protest movement that evolved into the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the military tried desperately to fend off the protest movement, to the extent of establishing a military government two months before the revolution’s triumph and fighting until the military’s virtual collapse on February 11, 1979.   The Turkish military perhaps has the longest track record of intervening in bids to maintain the prevailing order by staging four coups in the last half of the twentieth century (1960, 1971, 1980, 1997).[1] The Algerian military, by far the most dominant institution in the north African country, feared an imminent Islamist victory and canceled the second round of parliamentary elections in early 1992 and proceeded to consolidate its power by appointing its own presidents.  It is the Egyptian military, however, that deserves special attention for its ability to overcome challenges – challenges that could have threatened the military’s cohesion and longevity.

The Egyptian military came to prominence with the Free Officers coup in 1952. Its power and autonomy has fluctuated largely at the behest of its president’s policies.  In the wake of Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981[2], Hosni Mubarak assumed the presidency and, consequently, the Egyptian military’s political and economic clout has grown consistently ever since.  The matter of the military’s power in Egypt highlights the core issue dominating Egypt in 2011.  How did an 18-day mass movement succeed in ousting the political leadership of the country while the military, a main power center and guardian of the ancien regime, continued to exist as a cohesive force?  The answer to this pressing question lies in the regional context, specifically Iran, intertwined with U.S. policy.   Indeed, the military history of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and major American foreign policy priorities in 2011 explain why the Egyptian military has endured such enormous political crises.

Iran is a crucial starting point in understanding why the Egyptian military continues to constitute a major power center in post-revolution Egypt.  The role of the Iranian military in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 is vital to comprehending the context in which the radical Islamist regime was born – a colossal foreign policy disaster for the United States and one that was brought into consideration when contemplating the role of the Egyptian military during and after the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.

[1] The 1997 was not a direct military intervention but rather a “soft coup.”

[2] In Robert Springborg’s Mubarak’s Egypt: Fragmentation of the Political Order (Westview Press, 1989), he suggests that Sadat’s assassination is still a controversial matter with some believing that a disgruntled military masterminded it in order to remove the man it saw as weakening the military’s political and economic clout. See page 97.

Parable on Ice: Hockey, Capitalism and American Decadence at the Lake Placid Olympics

Two misconceptions fed the seemingly instantaneous mythologizing of the Miracle on Ice. First, that the win came “out of nowhere.”  Second, that the players were amateurs. These aspects of the Miracle story developed out of battles endemic to the larger sporting world.  Juxtaposed against professional athletes, the image of the “boys” was bolstered by the idea that they were not corrupted by monetary incentive, that they did not rely on the kindness of boosters, and that they were self-made. The story of the Miracle, in the biblical sense, relied on this construct. Even the secular definition of “miracle” demanded that the impetus for the event did not measure up to the output. Thus, a few details were consistently missed.

Book Reviews

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Book review of Baki Tezcan's Second Empire, including its theoretical and historiographical contextualization.

Tropics of Savagery Book Review

This is a book review of Robert Tierney's Tropics of Savagery: The Culture of Japanese Empire in Comparative Frame.