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Insiders, Outsiders, and the Formation of Identities

2:30-2:45 Juan Corujo, "The Socii:  The “Backstabbers” and Backbone of the Italian Peninsula during the 1st Century BCE"

      I'm a Senior Double Major in History/Classical Civilizations at Duquesne University. I'm from San Juan, Puerto Rico. My concentration at this moment has been studying the political disputes that surround the wars between the populares and the optimates, and how their conflicts served to mark the Roman Republic's fall. 
      In the studies of antiquity, the most notable people of the Italian peninsula, the Romans, are often the central protagonists of the Italic historical narrative. Crucially, within the history of its republic, the neighbors who surrounded the lands of Latium had distinct personalities, cultures, and political developments that determined the politics and fate of the Roman Republic. These tribes who had become allies to the Romans and had been central in furthering Roman warfare faced heavy contention when neither their political nor civil rights had been acknowledged through Roman citizenship or civitas, placing heavy contention between them and the Republic. The goal of this research is to analyze the individual identities of these tribes, such as the Lucanians and the Samnites, and to understand how their status as Socii helped shape the political landscape of the late Roman Republic through the Social War and their political relationship with the Kingdom of Pontus during the 1st century BCE. By then understanding the cultural identity of these tribes and what roles they had within Republican conflicts, including the Punic Wars and the Jugurthine War, we can come to understand how the conflict between the Republic and the tribes would come to be shaped, as well as their role in shaping Republican political and legal conflicts for the designation of the Socii’s legal rights. The primary documentation of Strabo’s Geographica and Livy’s Ad urbe condita demonstrate the Roman-centric perspectives that outline these tribes like the Samnites and the Lucanians as wholly alien and separate from the Romans. This is then reasserted by the eruption of the Social War and the clash between both parties because of the Lex Calpurnia, which granted the political, social, and economic freedoms these tribes wanted.  

2:50-3:05 Ziv Carmi, "A Special Relationship"

      A southern Californian, born and raised in Ventura County, Ziv is a Master’s student pursuing a Public History major. He earned a B.A., Magna Cum Laude, in History with a dual minor in Public History and Civil War Era Studies from Gettysburg College in 2023. While studying at Gettysburg, he spent three years as a fellow at the college’s Civil War Institute, where he participated in the State of the Confederacy mapping project that used GIS software to examine trends in Confederate monumentation. He also researched, among other things, the Civil War in Southern California, drawing on local history to discuss an oft-overlooked “front” of the conflict. Ziv’s passion for public history began in high school, when he became a volunteer docent at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley. He has interned at Stratford Hall (virtual internship, 2020), Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia (2021), Eisenhower NHS in Gettysburg (2022), and the Gettysburg College Special Collections and College Archives (2023), which helped him to refine his interpretive skills and further deepened his love for public history. He will be representing the NPS as a Seasonal Interpretive Ranger this summer at Fort McHenry National Monument/Historic Shrine and Hampton NHS. 
      My paper, A Special Relationship, examines the development of the American-Israeli friendship during the administration of President John F. Kennedy. American interests in Israel were multifaceted and complex, almost contradictory, mostly focusing on geopolitical priorities. Most importantly, the United States wished to maintain a balance of power in the Middle East and avoid triggering an arms race between Soviet-backed Egypt and Western-aligned Israel, and the Kennedy Administration was split in how to best achieve this goal via conventional weapons sales. While the administration clashed over the sale of conventional weapons, they were entirely united on the stance that nuclear proliferation in the region would upset the balance of power, and thus, attempted to stop the nascent Israeli nuclear weapons program. As America sought to begin a military alliance with the Israelis, simultaneously, they exchanged harsh words over supervisory access to Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona and its development of nuclear weapons. Preserving the balance of power between Egypt and Israel also fulfilled America’s larger Cold War goals of ensuring Israeli national and territorial security to serve as a bulwark against the spread of Soviet influence across the Middle East, and thus, keeping a significant American influence prevalent within the region. 
      While this study of American diplomacy might not, at first glance, tie into the theme of “Identity in Historical Perspective,” it focuses on the development of America’s identity on the world stage, particularly in the Middle East. Today, America is well known as Israel’s biggest ally; however, the foundation of this alliance is largely unknown. This paper looks at the formation and construction of both America’s identity as a power in the Middle East and Israel’s identity as America’s “special friend” in the context of the Cold War during a formative period in the region. As such, it fits within the theme of the conference by describing the construction of national identities on a global scale.

3:10-3:25 Ian Dotson, "War of Amber & Brick: The Sacral and Military Built Environment of the Northern Crusades in Western Lithuania & Latvia"

      Ian Dotson is a senior History major with minors in Religious Studies and Medieval & Renaissance studies. His research interests include the premodern architectural history of Northern and East-Central Europe, the Baltic or 'Northern' Crusades, and the linguistic interactions between early medieval Scandinavia, Britain, and continental Europe. He spent the 2023 Spring semester abroad at Vilnius University, in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he studied under the Lithuanian History and Scandinavian Philology departments. He will be attending the University of Virginia School of Architecture for his master's in architectural history (MArH). He is from Tucker County, West Virginia.
      The "Crusades;" an enduring and tempestuous episode of European history that contemporary and modern peoples have feverishly attributed with much imagination and romanticized thinking. The borders of Catholic Europe ebb and flow against their "pagan" neighbors, and as religiosity seizes more political voice, the expansion of Christendom was mobilized in response. This project delves into the “Northern Crusades,” the architectural and military history of the Teutonic Order and their perceived opponents, the "pagan" Baltic people, primarily in Western Lithuania and Latvia from the late 13th to early 15th centuries. The Teutonic Order, and their foes, met their combative and constructive height in the early 15th century; offering a exemplary window of study into these historic intersections of religion, colonization, counterinsurgency, and art. This project investigates, and hopes to share, the Order's and Grand Duchy's strategies in navigating the religious, colonization efforts, and artistic patronage; illuminating the complexities of the medieval built environment and pre-modern colonial power dynamics in the Baltic region. Consulted primary sources, featuring the Utrecht Chronicle of the Teutonic Order, the Chronica nova Prutenica, The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, Visbüch (Book of Visby) and the Codex diplomaticus Prussicus, corroborated with secondary literature spanning from architectural analyses by Marian Arszyński to the historical reflections of William L. Urban, Stephen C. Rowell, and Jonathan Riley-Smith. This interdisciplinary approach, balanced between history, architecture, and building archaeology, hopes to offer greater insight into the intertwined narratives of faith, conquest, and the built cultural heritage in the medieval Baltic. In preparation for this project, Ian spent a semester abroad at Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he had the opportunity to study Baltic history and linguistics, as well as the opportunity to travel to fortifications and sacral constructions across Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Germany.