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Ryan Archibald

Doctoral Candidate

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Dissertation: "Traveling Dissent: Activists, Borders, and the U.S. Cold War National Security State"

"Traveling Dissent" explores the meanings attached to borders, mobility, and state security during the Cold War. Utilizing activists' travel narratives, government documents, and popular media representations, I explore how the U.S. federal government understood particular types of movement by individuals and organizations as subversive, transgressive, and racialized, and developed new techniques to police a globally mobile population. I argue that the U.S. federal government connected a rebelling Third World with "domestic" radicalism throughout the Cold War. These representations, I contend, informed the development of laws and surveillance technologies that aimed to disrupt transnational social movements and strengthen the nation-state's borders at a moment when the distinctions between the "foreign" and "domestic" appeared to erode through advancements in communications and transportation technologies. While the government constructed a normative traveling public through the designation of individuals' and organizations' mobility as threatening to national security, activists contested these representations and constructed alternative understandings of mobility, borders, and state power. These journeys and the state's responses, I argue, are the historical antecedents of the contemporary War on Terror, and reveal its roots in a larger history of the security state's construction and policing of a global geography based on race, radicalism, and transnational mobility.