Year of Publication

2021

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department/School/Program

History

First Advisor

Dr. Francie Chassen-López

Abstract

After the Sandinista revolution of 1979 ousted the longstanding Somoza dynasty of Nicaragua, the small Central American nation became an obsession of US foreign policy as the Reagan administration committed its efforts to deposing the leftist revolutionary government through the funding and training of the Contras, a counter-revolutionary guerrilla group. With the Cold War at a boiling point, continued control and influence over Central America became a pillar of US anticommunist agenda. Uniquely, many of the most ardent critics of the Reagan administration during this period of violent intervention were Christian missionaries. The Sandinistas were able to defeat the Somoza regime in large part due to the support of Nicaraguan clergy who adhered to a socially conscious current of Catholicism known as Liberation Theology. US missionaries found themselves similarly radicalized by Liberation Theology in a unique instance of ideology moving from South to North, and they chose to make Central America a pivotal point of their political activism as they opposed US intervention in the region. Though this activism faded with the turn of the 1990s, the Christian anti-Contra movement presented a unique challenge to the binaries of Cold War politics on a scale previously unseen.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2021.473

Funding Information

This study was supported by Robert Lipman through the Lipman Fellowship from 2018-2020.

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