Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Cold War national identites

In my RBA, I am going to apply SIT to the development of the national identities of the United States and the Soviet Union in an attempt to (a) demonstrate that social psychology can be applied to international relations, (b) argue that there is an alternative perspective on the development of the two countries’ national identities, and (c) offer an psychological explanation for the biases that were predominant in the Cold War era in the US and the USSR with regard to assessing each other’s behavior and motives.

In my brain map, I map only the aspects of SIT that I am going to be applying to the Cold War. Under each topic, there is going to be an explanation of the psychological process,  direct example(s) of it in the Cold War and its influence of the developemt of national identities.


My Research Based Assignment

My RBA will be continuing off my TiC which dealt with the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and America’s responses to this conflict. My TiC presented varying scholarly sources that sought to provide varying (not necessarily conflicting) viewpoints of why this conflict came about. In my RBA, I will take a position in this matter and argue that the United States’ participation in the 1979-89 Soviet Afghan war definitively played a role in its own attack on September 11.

Here is a link to my map:

The Effectiveness of Social Satire During 1960’s America

The 1960’s were a consequential time period in American history. The Cold War was at its iciest with multiple occurrences of near catastrophe in world geopolitics, the U.S. was getting involved in Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement was picking up momentum for change, and society was in the midst of a sexual revolution. The cinema of the time period reflected this growing tension and changing ideological shifts, a prime example of which is the so-called ‘satire boom’. During this decade an influx of satirical and black comedy films were produced (the most well-known being Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove). Popular culture is immensely important in shaping societal attitude and norms, and well as crafting a culture’s identity. Studying this specific genre of films gives an insight into exactly what was changing about American views in the 1960’s and pinpointing any stagnation.

While  many historians and critics like to focus on the implications of the political mockery of satirical films (especially their condemnation of American foreign policy), I’m more interested in the social critique authors imbued these films with. Humor that causes audiences to think critically towards themselves and their own lives is extremely powerful. Many of the satire films of the era took shots at outdated sexual morals, unfair social hierarchy, and race relations. However, while watching I noticed there was a lack of women and people of color being portrayed in these films and even if they were it was in minuscule roles. How can satire’s social mockery be as productive as the political mockery given the fact that so many voices are left out? To what extent does this kind of satire, even in its most progressive moments actually work as a system of silencing if steps were not taken to include diverse viewpoints? This is where I plan to direct my research of the 1960’s ‘satire boom’.

Mind Map

My mind map details the areas I need to address in my RBA. First of all, I need to acknowledge the current academic discussion. Then I want to go on to discussing the power and importance of social satire, followed by a brief discussion of central films. To determine the actual effect these movies might have had, I am going to look at critical reviews, polls, and box office demographics.

Map for RBA on rise of evangelical Christians in America

My RBA will argue that evangelical Christians in America have benefitted from the discriminating views of the more extreme members of that group. This arises from the discrimination thrusting evangelicals into the center of the American social identity, which puts more political emphasis on their traits. A link to my current map/outline is below.

Twelve Years Earlier

Politically, the fact that international relations in the 1950s were so polarized does not come as much of a surprise in the light that there were two competing superpowers. It is slightly interesting, however, that a containment culture emerged throughout the world as one response to this. Even more interesting is the fact that, around the year 1968, disenchanted groups in a plethora of countries (not organizationally related to each other) began both peaceful and violent demonstrations against institutions. There is one potential outlier, however. In 1956, Budapest exploded into a revolution that was ultimately put down by Soviet troops. While it would be far-fetched to claim that this was indeed the first movement of 1968, ideologically there is much in common between the two. In my research, I will attempt to demonstrate this connection.

Mind map:

The Extent of Self-Interested Support for Civil Rights


In my TiC I explored the relationship between the Cold War and government support for the civil rights movement, focusing on the notion that the government supported civil rights throughout this time period to combat communist propaganda efforts accusing America of racial discrimination. However, the Cold War was also known for the oppression of opposition including leftist groups such as those pushing for the civil rights movement. In my RBA I would like to further examine the dynamic between the oppression of opposition and acceptance of opposing ideologies during the Cold War, and how this dynamic contributed to the American democracy today. More specifically, given that leftist and “other” groups were targeted alongside communists, and that government support for civil rights during the Cold War was primarily self-interested, I would like to further research the extent of this self-interested support, and whether this support was maintained as Cold War tensions lessened and global pressures lifted.

My brainstorm may be found at

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Media Representation & Islamophobia

In my RBA I plan to analyze the comic series Ms. Marvel and its lead, Kamala Khan, as a response to Islamophobia in media representation post-9/11. By examining the creation of the image of the Muslim male as a terrorist and therefore a dangerous “other”, I hope to determine the importance of media representation and how or why it is effective in supporting a specific national image. Furthermore, I plan to establish how Kamala Khan is a response to this rhetoric and in what ways her story and character reinforces or subverts it, particularly as a possible response to assimilation pressures and the erasure of hyphenated identities.



RBA Research: 9/11 and the Origins of Trump

I am interested in making connections between some of the major events of the past 16 years in order to gain some insight into what has brought our country to the point that we have elected Donald Trump as our next president. In particular, I am interested in how the economic, social and political fallout of 9/11 has shaped our modern political landscape. The connections to be made primarily have to do with links between Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve’s immediate response to 9/11, and the 2007 economic downturn, and the spread of xenophobic rhetoric in the wake of 9/11 due to persistent fear mongering, and the combined effects these have had on American politics through the election of Obama, and thus the birth and growth of the Tea Party which I claim has played a large role in making Trump appear to be an electable candidate to a sizable portion of the American public.

Link to MindMap

Invasion Films Across Eras

In my RBA, I plan to compare invasion films of the 1950s and the 2000s and highlight the differences or similarities between films as cultural shifts or continuity across eras. One particular aspect of these films is a shift from “unknown” invaders to “known” invaders as a result of America understanding its enemy through globalization. Like in my TIC, I plan to organize my RBA by introducing different themes present in these films and showing if films of both eras represent or acknowledge these concepts.

Cold War American Culture Post 9/11