Speaker: Benjamin A. Cowan, Assistant Professor, History and Art History, George Mason University
This research draws on previously untapped archives to argue that Cold War struggles against “subversion” must be understood in cultural terms, as a reaction to the consequences—real and perceived—of modernization. Inscribing Brazil’s Cold War military dictatorship (1964-1985) into a century-long, transnational trajectory of right-wing activism, I demonstrate that anti-modern moral panic animated powerful, hard-line members and supporters of the military regime. As these hard-liners institutionalized state-sponsored, anti-Marxist violence, their moral panic conflated communist subversion with cultural changes based in modernization itself. Combining Cold War and culture war, rightists focused their anticommunism on specific gendered and sexualized areas of concern: “modern” youth, women, and mass media.