Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Dissidence Behind the Iron Curtain: Human Rights and Soviet-American Relations in the Long 1960s

Dissidence Behind the Iron Curtain: Human Rights and Soviet-American Relations in the Long 1960s

  • Speakers:
  • Sarah Snyder
    Assistant Professor, School of International Service, American University
  • Date / Time:
  • December 01, 2014
  • 4:30 pm
  • Venue:
  • FPRI
  • 1528 Walnut Street, Suite 610
  • Philadelphia. PA. US. 19102

Study Group on America and the West

Chair: Ron Granieri, Executive Director,FPRI’s Center for the Study of America and the West

4:30 p.m. Seminar; 6:00 p.m. Dinner

Throughout the Cold War, American political leaders and institutions offered widespread condemnation of Soviet human rights abuses.  For many observers, the communist system inevitably repressed human rights such as the freedoms of religion, movement, and to hold private property, and human rights claims against the Soviets had both an international and a domestic audience. Nevertheless, American efforts to pursue détente with the Soviets beginning in the 1960s, as well as varying levels of commitment to human rights in the White House itself, made some administrations less likely to press human rights concerns. Sometimes the White House felt more could be gained in relations with the Soviets by overlooking human rights violations. Such an approach sparked criticism within Congress and in the public, sparking ongoing disputes about the place of human rights concerns in Soviet-American relations. Not until the value of détente declined and more ideological presidents such as Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan occupied the White House would the issue garner greater high-level attention.

Sarah B. Snyder specializes in the history of the Cold War, human rights activism, and U.S. human rights policy. Her first book, Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network, (Cambridge University Press), won the 2012 Stuart Bernath Book Prize for best first book and the 2012 Myrna F. Bernath Book Award for the best book written by a woman in the field from The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. Her second book, Human Rights Before Carter (under contract with Columbia University Press) explores the development of U.S. human rights policy during the long 1960s. She previously served as a Cassius Marcellus Clay Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Yale University, the Pierre Keller Post -Doctoral Fellow in Transatlantic Relations at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies also at Yale, and as a professorial lecturer at Georgetown University. She received her Ph.D. from Georgetown, M.A. from University College London, and B.A. with honors from Brown University.

The Study Group Idea: Greater Philadelphia is home to 80-plus institutions of higher learning, and FPRI is the place where the great minds of these institutions meet through our Inter-University Study Groups. Each session a guest speaker presents a paper for in-depth discussion in seminar format and in the dinner following.


Participation is limited to university faculty, graduate students, and to FPRI Members at the $1000 level.

Reservations are required. RSVP:

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