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"Communication for Change: Mass Media, Rural Development, the Catholic Church and the Cold War in Colombia’s Radio Sutatenza/ Cultural Popular Action Network, 1947-1974," by Mary Roldán, LASP Seminar Series

Monday, March 19, 2018 at 12:15pm to 1:10pm

Uris Hall, 153 109 Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14853

Radio Sutatenza/Cultural Popular Action (ACPO) was Latin America’s largest, transnational, Catholic-affiliated, anti-communist, mass media based education and community development network (1947-89).  Founded in 1947 by a recently ordained auxiliary parish priest and amateur radio enthusiast assigned to a largely illiterate, geographically dispersed parish in Colombia during the early years of la Violencia, José Joaquin Salcedo transformed Radio Sutatenza/ACPO from a village based, radio-centered, adult literacy and catechetical project dependent on peasant and diocesan donations, into a multi-pronged (publishing, recording and broadcasting), mass-media and peasant leadership training empire with transnational influence and support by 1962. This talk explores the complex and shifting dynamics of transnational technical expertise exchanges, ideology, financing, secular/religious collaboration, the use of mass media technologies for the promotion of rural economic development (including gender-based, family planning and educational campaigns) and anti-communist propaganda during the Cold War in Colombia and Latin America.                           

Mary Roldán is the Dorothy Epstein Professor of Latin American History and Chair of the History Department at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY) and a member of the faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center.  She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and specializes in 20th century Colombian political and social history. She is the author of Blood and Fire: La Violencia in Antioquia, Colombia, 1946-1953 (Duke, 2002), winner of the Fundación Alejandro Angel Escobar Social Sciences Prize (2003).  She has written about drug trafficking, paramilitarism, and grassroots peace initiatives to armed conflict. She is currently completing two monographs, one analyzing the relationship between radio, public opinion and politics in Colombia titled, Broadcast Nation: Radio, Politics, and Culture in Colombia, 1930-1962 and another, the history of Latin America’s largest Catholic, mass-media based peasant education network (Radio Sutatenza) titled Cold War Parable: Radio Sutatenza/ Popular Cultural Action and Rural Development in Colombia, 1947-1990. Her most recent publications include, “ACPO, Estado, Educación y Desarrollo Rural en Colombia,” Banco de la República, May 2017; “Popular Cultural Action, Catholic Transnationalism and Development in Colombia before Vatican II,” in Local Church, Global Church.  Catholic Transnationalism before Vatican II, edited by Stephen J.C. Andes and Julia C. Young (Catholic University of America Press, 2016); and “Acción Cultural Popular (ACPO), ‘Responsible Procreation’, and the Roots of Social Activism in Colombia” (LARR, v.49 2014).


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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Latino Studies Program, Anthropology, Education, History, Sociology, Development Sociology, Latin American Studies Program (LASP), Global Cornell

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Mary Roldan

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History Department, Hunter College, CUNY

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Free and Open to the Public

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