News Research

July 11, 2019 at 1:31 pm

History Ph.D. Student Visits Grenada to Conduct Research and Present at Conference

Heather Salazar, portrait

Heather Salazar

Heather Salazar, doctoral student in the History Department, recently completed a research trip covering four different sites to access archival documents and oral histories. Her dissertation, provisionally titled “Grenada: From British Colony to America’s Cold War Pawn,” examines the 1983 U.S.  invasion of Grenada  (Operation URGENT FURY) within the global context of the Cold War.

Salazar’s first stop was the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. There, she accessed “just about everything that is declassified” about Grenada. Such documentation will allow her to include an analysis of the US Air Force aspect of the 1983 operation.

Next on her itinerary was the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia. Salazar’s dissertation will include an analysis of the inner-workings of the Carter administration in relation to how Grenada fit into its broader Cold War calculations. She was particularly interested in “memos, correspondence, and other documents from various officials within the Carter administration and President Carter himself”—many of which she accessed. However, Salazar also encountered several folders that are still sealed, many perhaps because they have never been requested. She is currently awaiting a response to her declassification requests.

Salazar’s third stop was the United States National Archives in Atlanta. This site offered her access into an often overlooked party to the invasion: the U.S. Coast Guard. Such documentation will allow her to make important arguments about the timeframe of the U.S. presence in Grenada and its nature, both before and after the invasion. Though she was not able to access the logs of all involved ships, as some are at the Federal Records Center in Atlanta and technically still under Coast Guard authority.

Salazar’s final stop was Grenada itself. This was her second research trip to the island. She interviewed participants of both the revolution and the events of October 1983. Yet the visit was also an opportunity for Salazar to share some of her research. She participated in a conference marking the 40th anniversary of the Grenada Revolution, presenting a paper titled “A Cold War Pawn?” as part of the International Relations and Foreign Policy panel. She was also invited by the Grenada National Museum, to give a lecture on the history of US-Grenada relations.

With these research trips complete, Salazar plans to turn the bulk of her attention to writing the dissertation.

Salazar is writing her dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer, Professor of History and Director of the Contemporary History Institute (CHI). Salazar completed doctoral examination fields in U.S. military history, U.S. political history, and modern Latina American history. In addition to working toward her PhD in History, she has completed a graduate Certificate in Contemporary History.

For more on the History Department’s graduate program, visit the department website.

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