Bringing the international in: Local spaces and international politics on the Niagara Frontier, 1927–1947
Beardsley, Perry E.
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines the relationship between the local arena and the international in the American-Canadian border region of Western New York, during the period, 1927-1947. Primarily, it focuses on international politics and the ways locals mediated the relationship between international politics and the local civic sphere. Two overarching questions inform much of the work. First, what was the American public’s level of awareness concerning international politics during this critical period? Second, how and to what degree did Americans rationalize and accept America’s growing global responsibility? I argue that Western New Yorkers, and Americans more broadly, acculturated themselves to this new task in several ways that ultimately manifest themselves in the region’s symbolic landscape: from participation in local celebrations, commemorations, and organizational activities, whose central focus was international politics, to attending lectures on topics of international importance. The work contributes to our understanding of the histories of American foreign affairs and international relations during the interwar and early postwar period. It argues against a depiction of America’s turn toward an internationalist foreign policy being solely driven by East Coast elites and instead emphasizes the contributions of local actors in establishing a flourishing culture of interest in international politics. This adds a critical bottom-up dimension and new approach to one of the twentieth century’s critical developments. This dissertation also argues that a foreign affairs history of this period must attend to the complex ways in which regional specificity played a part in the development of an outward-oriented foreign policy.