Invitation to all
- Dear SWers,
My apologies for sending this out so late, but this program came together only recently.
You're all invited to come to the program following the Slovak American Society of Washington's annual general membership meeting this coming Saturday, October 29. James Mace Ward, a doctoral candidate in history at Stanford University will speak on "No Saint: The Life and Lives of Jozef Tiso, 1887-2004". Mr. Ward will give an overview of his dissertation research---an in-depth and comprehensive inquiry into the life of Tiso and the varied perspectives that have characterized this important Slovak historical figure. The program will begin at 3:00, at the Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Blvd. (Route 50), Falls Church Virginia (just off the Beltway).
More background on Mr. Ward's dissertation and talk: Jozef Tiso (1887-1947) is the most controversial Slovak in history. As president of the 1939-1945 Slovak Republic, this Roman Catholic priest sanctioned the deportation of over 58,000 Jews to German-occupied Poland, thus literally embodying one of the most infamous intersections of Catholicism and fascism. His defenders nonetheless argue that he protected Jews and was a democrat at heart. Such diametrically opposed views of Tiso litter his historiography and the collective primary sources about him. For example, during the First Czechoslovak Republic, when he and the Hlinka's Slovak People's Party waged a twenty-year battle for Slovak autonomy, the Prague press portrayed him both as a fanatic hater of all things Czech, and as a constructive partner in governing. To a similar degree of contradiction, his Slovak contemporaries clashed over his nationalist pedigree and the sincerity of his piety. For his Slovak enemies, he was a national renegade who sought to return Slovakia to Hungarian subjugation, or an astounding religious hypocrite with a "morally perverse character." His Slovak admirers, in contrast, typically described him as a "tireless worker for the Slovak nation," or as a "flawless" cleric. Over a half century after his death, he remains the only executed war criminal that people seriously propose as a Catholic saint.
This dissertation is a biography of Tiso and an analysis of his "lives"-that is to say, of histories about him, whether told by professionals in colleges or parents in kitchens. Its central premise argues that, to understand Tiso fully in a historical sense, we must focus not only on the man, but also on how moralities complicate yet inform the task of interpreting him. The ultimate aim is to demonstrate that Tiso's historical significance lies above all in the moral problem his life and lives encapsulate. To achieve this, Mr. Ward emphasizes structures and themes that challenge but also inspire moral reflection on him from multiple viewpoints.
If you're interested in coming, please contact me off-line at <hfed@...> for directions.