Graduate Salon: Olivier Burtin and Sean Vanatta

Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 12:00 pm

Olivier Burtin

Using archives from the American Legion headquarters in Indianapolis as a starting point, my project is to explore the many ways in which veterans influenced local and national U.S politics and society in the post-World War Two era. Virtually the single most important veterans’ organization, the Legion was involved in creating local community programs throughout the country, bringing together millions of veterans from different wars, ensuring their access to an efficient healthcare system, honoring the memory of those who had died in service via monuments and cemeteries, and last but not least, lobbying tirelessly the U.S Congress on topics ranging from the Department of Veteran Affairs to national security and “Americanism.” Through these various activities, I seek to understand, for instance, how patriotism became deeply embedded in the everyday life of Americans or the unique place of veterans in the expanding U.S welfare state.

Sean Vanatta

“Filching the American Dream: Credit Card Fraud in Historical Perspective” seeks to uncover and reconstruct the agency of credit card criminals, who sought by questionable means to procure the promises of American prosperity, while also detailing the efforts of credit card issuers and state authorities to meet the evolving challenges posed by these malefactors. Using archival evidence from the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the New York City Municipal Archives, the project traces the cycles of crime, prosecution, and legislation which attended the rise of the bank credit card industry from the late 1950s through the mid-1980s. In doing so it explores how innovations in both credit card technology and criminal practice shaped the boundaries of card crime, and how prosecutors, along with federal and state politicians sought to police those boundaries.