Almost forty years ago, on 19 July 1979, Nicaraguan guerrillas from the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (Sandinista National Liberation Front, or FSLN) overthrew the regime of Anastasio Somoza. Their victory ended the decades long dictatorship and ushered forth revolutionary change. Indeed, the Nicaraguan Revolution was a defining moment, not only for Latin America and the Caribbean, but also for the United States, Western Europe, and many countries in the global South. Twenty years after Fidel Castro’s band of revolutionaries triumphed in Cuba in 1959, left-wing armed revolutionaries in Latin America had succeeded in toppling dictatorial rule.
The Sandinistas’ success inspired peoples and governments around the world even before Somoza’s overthrow. In Europe and the Americas local activists and organisations collected money so that guerrillas could buy weapons, medicine, and food. Latin American governments pressured the US administration to denounce the Somoza regime. After the revolution triumphed, solidarity and support for the FSLN grew further still, as human rights groups, labour unions, and church organisations cooperated with the Sandinistas to make the revolution a success. The latter became increasingly difficult when Ronald Reagan obtained power in 1981 and decided he needed to ‘roll back communism’ in Central America. Throughout the 1980s, Nicaragua became a focal point of a v destructive Cold War struggle to determine the future of that country. This battle was fought not only by Nicaraguans on a local level but also by diplomats, solidarity activists, musicians and artists on a global stage.
And yet we still know surprisingly little about the global, international, and transnational dimensions of the Nicaraguan Revolution. There are a variety of reasons for this. Firstly, there has been relatively little sustained collaboration between scholars working in the US and Europe and their Nicaraguan and Central American counterparts. Secondly, until recently sources on this period have remained classified and it has been very difficult to get access to Nicaraguan archival material and documents. However, recent declassifications and a willingness among participants to talk about their experiences of the past have opened up the possibility of writing a broader history of the Nicaraguan Revolution.
To encourage scholarly collaboration, take stock of what is known to date, and to delineate new areas of research in the future, on 15 May 2019 we are organising a one-day workshop focused on the histories of the Nicaraguan Revolution at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Bringing scholars together to engage in dialogue and debate with each other, it aims to advance understanding of the international, transnational, and global dynamics of the Nicaraguan Revolution. The workshop particularly hopes to cover the following topics:
- The international origins of the revolution
- Transnational connections and networks
- Foreign relations and diplomacy
- Human rights and solidarity activism
- Women and gender
- Guerrillas and counterinsurgency
- Indigenous networks and activism
- The influence of religion and religious networks
To propose a paper for this workshop please send an abstract of no more than 400 words, and a short CV to Eline van Ommen (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 30 January 2019.