Cleveland Latin American Mission Team

One of my current research projects centers on the Cleveland Latin American Mission Team, their work in El Salvador, and the four churchwomen murdered during the El Salvador Civil War in December 1980. This work started with an Undergraduate Summer Research Award (USRA) from CSU in 2016 and builds on the excellent work of Christopher Morris (USRA 2015 & 2016), Amanda Gedeon (USRA 2016), and Patrick Basista (USRA 2018). See https://socialstudies.clevelandhistory.org/tag/protest-voices/ and https://historyspeaks.clevelandhistory.org/ for the essays, lesson plans, and teaching resources they created.

The USRA projects sparked my interest in the case of the four churchwomen, Dorothy Kazel, OSU; Jean Donovan; Ita Ford, MM; and Maura Clarke, MM, which is well-known in Cleveland. Their story represents the intersection of multiple topics, or historiographies, including the Cold War, US involvement in Latin America, gender history, human rights history, and the history of the Catholic Church post Vatican II.

I am currently exploring this topic through two projects:

  1. “Reluctant Activists: Human Rights, Cleveland’s Catholic Left, and El Salvador” an academic article that will be published in 2020.
  2. Digital history exhibit (part of the Protest Spaces Research network) will explore the case of the four churchwomen as well as the powerful collective memory of their murders.