Kulturgeschichte – U.S. Civil Rights in Global Context
In the summer of 2020, over 15,000 peo ple marched in Zurich in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement in the United States. Switzerland was not the only country with such protests; across the globe, from Lebanon to Chile, people protested the continued prevalence of racial inequality and police brutality in the U.S. and connected this to inequali ties in their own countries. But why did a seemingly domestic U.S. issue lead to such a global outcry? In this lecture, we will investigate the connection between civil rights in the United States and geo political developments across the globe, from past to present. We will begin our journey in the Cold War period, when the Soviet Union used evidence of U.S. racism and sexism in its quest to discred it the U.S. on a global scale.
As the U.S. and the Soviet Union sought to integrate newly independent countries in Africa and Asia into their sphere of influence, treatment of minoritized peo ples emerged as a central political tool. Indeed, the U.S. civil rights movement
of the 1960s – from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X – cannot be understood separate from this Cold War landscape. We will then gradually work our way up to the contemporary moment. Topics will include cold war civil rights of the 1950s and 60s, the Indigenous American Red Power Movement in the 1970s, the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, the Black Lives Matter movement, and, finally, the global reverberations of the 2022 Supreme Court decision to overturn the federal right to abortion as codified in Roe v Wade.