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The Calling of Katie Makanya

Katie Makanya’s memoir (1) tells the life story of a remarkable black woman from South Africa whose lifetime (1873-1956) coincided with the transformation of the region as a result of European imperialism. Margaret McCord, the daughter of Katie’s employer, recorded her memories in 1954, and from those memories, crafted this chronological narrative.

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Nana Asma'u, Muslim Woman Scholar

One Woman’s Jihad: Nana Asma’u, Scholar and Scribe, loosely called a biography, is a case study from 19th-century northern Nigeria. Each chapter is organized around a selection from Asma’u’s writings, presented in full in the appendix. One Woman’s Jihad was written for this course as a way of talking about primary documents by a woman scholar. (1)

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The Unique Experience of Romania

The December 1989 revolution in Romania has been the subject of scholarly discussions, passionate debates, conspiracy theories, and political struggles. In 2004, for instance, an Institute for the study of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 (IRRD) was founded in Bucharest, headed by then President Ion Iliescu whose term in office was soon to expire.

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Consumerism in Poland

Throughout Eastern Europe, the decade of the 1980s was a time of significant change, including the everyday lives of average citizens. This case study looks at visual representations of consumer culture in Poland in an effort to examine the larger role that consumer goods played in the daily lives of those who lived in Eastern Europe.

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Memory in East Germany

This case study examines how a group of East German dissidents re-appropriated the memory of Rosa Luxemburg and turned her writing against the Communist Party during an annual parade in January 1988.

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Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate

In June 1987, President Reagan delivered an important speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin. This case study looks at how to use the speech as a means to examine US foreign policy and the end of the Cold War.

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Women in Romania

Using oral histories, this case study explores various aspects of women’s daily lives in Communist Romania and women’s attitudes toward the changes wrought by the transformation to a pluralist system and to a market economy after the collapse of the regime in December 1989.

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Soviet Health Posters

This case study examines two posters that address the increasingly embarrassing and difficult health crisis of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout this period, the poster remained the most typical form of propaganda and thus are an important element in teaching the Soviet experience.

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Simulating the Velvet Revolution

This case study simulates the process of the extraordinarily quick (and often peaceful) overthrow of various communist regimes is Eastern Europe in 1989. The simulation provides a powerful experiential study of how dissent can quickly cascade through a group, leading to fast, dramatic change.

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Solidarity Comes to Power

In retrospect, it seems predictable that the first opposition group in the Soviet bloc to succeed in unseating a communist regime would be Poland’s Solidarity movement.

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