Final Public Oral Exam: Andrea Oñate-Madrazo

Final Public Oral Examination
Event date: 
September 7, 2016 - 1:00pm
Andrea Oñate-Madrazo
Princeton University
Seminar Series: 
Final Public Oral Exam

Insurgent Diplomacy: El Salvador's Transnational Revolution, 1970-1992


Jeremy Adelman, adviser
Robert Karl
Deborah Yashar (POL)
Greg Grandin (New York University)


Insurgent Diplomacy offers a transnational history of civil war in the Central American country of El Salvador in the last two decades of the Cold War. Centered on the diplomacy of the Salvadoran revolutionary organization, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), this dissertation is both an international history of El Salvador and a Salvadoran insight into global history in the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, El Salvador became the epicenter of regional and international ambitions to transform the global order. It was here that international actors fought out their ideological battles and attempted—by influencing El Salvador—to shape broader regional and global dynamics. In turn, the FMLN capitalized on foreign involvement to further its own bids for political power. The revolutionaries' diplomacy with foreign state and non-state actors from myriad countries around the globe shaped the course of the civil war and transformed the priorities of Salvadoran insurgent leaders, ultimately leading them to endorse a negotiated peace treaty. In turn, intervention in El Salvador altered the domestic politics of states, solidarity movements, and non-governmental organizations embroiled in the Salvadoran crisis. In this sense, the dissertation showcases how local and global processes influenced one another. Furthermore, by uncovering the diplomatic history of Salvadoran revolutionaries, the dissertation evidences the simultaneously fragmenting and integrative impact of the Cold War's intrusion into local political conflicts. While regions became divided by national and geopolitical rivalries, a transnational community of activists, organizations, and international legal treaties fostered global interconnections that challenged prevailing notions of state-sovereignty and social activism, which had been at the base of international relations in the modern era. The FMLN's insurgent diplomacy provides new insight into the dynamics of the Global Cold War and challenges the notion of an East-West axis as the fundamental driver of the global conflict. Ultimately, the international history of El Salvador uncovered in this dissertation provdes the basis for understanding the country's transition from political to apolitical violence in the aftermath of its civil war and foreshadows the limits of neo-liberal peace models that came about in the 1990s.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review one week before the exam in the History Graduate Student Lounge, 105 Dickinson Hall.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Latin America and the Caribbean
20th Century