Talk to Examine Propaganda of Nazis, ‘ISIS’

Published 09.15.2015

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School of Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications News

The use of technology and propaganda by the Nazis and the Islamic State group will be examined and compared in the first presentation of the Daniel J. Doyle Technology & Society Colloquia Series, set for Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium at Pennsylvania College of Technology. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

“From the Nazis to ISIS: A Historical Analysis of Technology and Propaganda” will be presented by Katrina A. Sinclair, an adjunct member of the college’s history faculty.

Sinclair’s comparative discussion will pose the question of how a minority, fringe group is able to use technology to capture enough political and social legitimacy to effectively control a nation-state or, in the case of the Islamic State group, a large swath of territory.

Katrina A. Sinclair“Despite dramatic differences between Hitler’s Nazi Party and ISIS, the similarities between the factors leading to the rise of both groups provide us with an opportunity to understand the connections between the past and present in order to develop proactive strategies to counter extreme ideologies,” Sinclair said. “Examining these connections will allow us to better recognize propaganda when we see it.”

In her presentation, Sinclair will offer examples of the wide range of compelling propaganda and media portrayals used by the Nazis to grip German society in the 1930s. Footage from Leni Riefenstahl’s film “Triumph of the Will” will be shown, and Sinclair will also incorporate Hans Massaquoi’s book “Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany” into her talk. The Massaquoi book is studied by students in her World Civilization I course at Penn College.

As the Nazis used the technologies of film and radio, the Islamic State group is utilizing social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter to spread propaganda and recruit members. Sinclair will offer some nonviolent examples of the group’s recruiting methods during her colloquium.

“My aim is to present a range of parallels between the Nazis and ISIS for audience members to critically think about the different ways in which technology can be used to exploit and recruit disenfranchised and economically vulnerable populations to support and participate in violent and extreme ideologies,” Sinclair said. “Members of the audience will be challenged to think about the ways in which history can sometimes inform the present.”

Sinclair received her doctorate in history from the University at Buffalo. Her dissertation focused on the implementation of girls’ and women’s athletic programs in secondary and collegiate settings. Her doctoral studies also included subfields of study in global women’s history, with a focus on the Middle East and Southeast Asia, 20th-century U.S. history.

Dedicated in honor of Daniel J. Doyle, a professor emeritus and the college’s 1984 Master Teacher, the Daniel J. Doyle Technology & Society Colloquia Series features presentations by noted authors and academics that will challenge audiences to consider the impact of technology on our society. The series began in 2014 as the Centennial Colloquia, part of the college’s Centennial celebration, and due to its success, it was decided the series would be ongoing.

The next colloquium in the series will be Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m., when Alan R. Neuner, vice president for facilities operations at Geisinger Medical Center, presents “Improving National Health Through Energy Efficiency.”

To learn more about history courses offered by Penn College’s School of Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications, visit the school Web page.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.