Class Notes 10/18/2019: Wikipedia Workshop 2

Class started today with Sam presenting his news story about the controversy surrounding the current president of Bolivia’s successful abolishment of serving terms for Bolivia’s presidents. While Morales did contribute to supporting indigenous people’s rights in Bolivia and economic development, a survey uncovered that people were against abolishing a referendum that would prevent him from serving another term. Furthermore, Morales is currently heavily criticized by certain groups for failing to properly address the Amazonian fires, for being considering too radical in his reform, and for heavily contributing towards Bolivia’s deficit. Going against popular opinion, Morales nonetheless took the matter to court and abolished said referendum. Sam thought the way BBC and The Guardian, while differing in framing, was nonetheless relatively neutral. Sam related the topic to our class discussion by highlighting the duality of Morale’s policies: while the president successfully expanded democracy over the 14 years he served in office, his abolishment of the referendum could be viewed as potentially harmful to democracy.

Dr. Holt added to that by mentioning how people tend to associate Morelos with a massive improvement of indigenous rights in Bolivia and economic prosperity, but that his current move made his intentions questionable. This came as a response to Rita asking Sam to expand on why he thought Morelos’ move to be potentially harmful to democracy. Rita then made on final comment about how knowing the specifics of the survey that uncovered popular opinion about the abolishment of the referendum in order to assess whether it may have led people to respond a certain way.

We then moved to discuss what we expected our peers to include in their feedback on our plan for improving our assigned Wikipedia articles. A student stated that she would be interested in learning about what their peers would be interested in reading about after a first reading of the article, what they think is missing, and what they think of the stated improvement ideas.

Dr. Holt then showed us how we could access the articles that we are assigned and the ways in which it would be acceptable to submit our feedback. Dr. Holt deems it acceptable to post feedback on the Wikipedia portal by clicking the “Feedback” button, as a response on the talk page, or using the new Wikipedia feature that she Air Played in class.

Students asked a number of questions about some issues they are encountering with the process. Rita mentioned that she was unsure how to go about making extensive changes to her article. Dr. Holt suggested making replacements sentence by sentence and stated that adding citations is and should be part of the improvements we plan to make on our articles.

Dr. Holt finally mentioned that we would have to write a memo later in the class where we would develop on how we decided that something in our article needed to be changed/fixed and how we went about it. Finally, she stated that, in order to garner views on our articles, linking to our assigned article in other Wikipedia pages is an efficient strategy.

Class Notes-10/4

Alex presented today’s Latin America in the News about the state of emergency declared in Ecuador. The state of emergency was declared by the Ecuadorian president after strikes arose in response to the president ending the 40 year fuel subsidy. The main groups partaking in these protests are bus and taxi drivers, unions, students, and indiginous peoples. After Alex’s presentation, Professor Holt discussed the goal of the wikipedia project, which is to improve the quality of the articles while still remaining accessible. She then went over the work that we will be doing when we come back from fall break about the Chilean Revolution. She showed us the list of people who have not signed up for an article yet, and reminded us to sign up if we have not. We then started our Wikipedia work day, and she reminded us that after break we will contribute to the talk page of our article.

This is the editing policy on Wikipedia, which details what the proper methods of editing the articles is. It includes information such as adding information, fixing information, and using the talk page to collaborate with others who may want to edit that page as well. There are also links towards the end of this article that discuss how not to edit Wikipedia articles.

This article summarizes how to write biographies for women. It discusses how you should find information, use your own words, and use citations. 

This link is a tutorial for those wanting to translate articles. 

Class Notes (9/30/19)

At the beginning of class, Dr. Holt asked the class if they had any questions related to the midterm. She also mentioned that she added the titles of the documents onto the exam, but she also said that students must know the sources’ time periods. Professor Holt also reminded students to sign up for their Wikipedia posts by class Friday (10/4). She also announced that there is no HAP due Friday, but students must bring their laptops to class for a Wikipedia workday. Afterward, Shane presented his LA in the News on protests occurring in Haiti. Then, Holt presented infographics on which Wikipedia pages receive the most views.

The historical questions discussed in class were: “What is public history and why is it important?,” “Who reads Wikipedia and what do they read about?,” and “What sources do and do not meet Wikipedia’s criteria?” In class, these questions were discussed in relation to the websites for Granma and the Cuban American National Foundation. Both websites presented information on Cuban news and affairs. Also, both websites served as examples of our main class discussion on how biases may be present in certain sources of information. For instance, the class looked at the about pages for both websites and discussed the biases present in both pages. Also, the class discussed how the different aesthetics on both websites are likely catering to different audiences.


Key Terms:

  • Plagiarism: the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.
  • Granma: The official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party. It is also the name of the yacht that carried Fidel Castro and 81 other rebels to Cuba’s shores in 1956, launching the Cuban Revolution.
  • The Cuban American National Foundation: An organization with a commitment to bring freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights to Cuba. 



  • How is the information presented on Granma’s website and the Cuban American National Foundation’s website to promote either website’s agenda?
  • How is it possible to look for and identify biases within a source and determine whether information from a biased source should still be used on Wikipedia?
  • What kinds of cultural and political influences could the Granma website or the Cuban American National Foundation website have?

Class Notes (Friday, September 27th)

Gender and Sexuality in the Cuban Revolution

Midterm Question:

How to define terms – can examples be used?

  • Yes, examples can be used; clarity is key!

E-mail Prof. Holt ASAP if you want to work on a Wiki article that isn’t on her list

  • make sure to give the exact article title!

Rosh Hashanah

  • if celebrating, e-mail Prof. Holt your HAP

Alumna event

  • 9/30 @ 4 PM in Kauke 137
  • G&IS/IR major talking about careers in global public service
  • There will be desserts!

Historical Questions:

What is social history?

  • study of history that focuses on social effects of individuals that don’t have as much as a “say” or stance in well-known history
  • Allows for lesser-known perspectives to be known

Dr. Guerra’s “Why I Am a Historian”

Link to article:

Ideal revolutionary Cuban man:

  • smart but not too smart (bookish)
  • Volunteering time to work for state
  • Manual labor (strong)
  • Straight

Ideal revolutionary Cuban woman:

  • support men
  • Teachers

Why was gender so policed in Cuba?

  • form of indoctrination for a unified population for a stronger regime


  • forced labor
  • Scared of single moms
    • Believed that children would be too feminine without a father

For Monday:

  • Wiki: add to an article
  • HAP: Wiki sources
  • Carefully look over two primary sources
    • Cuban American National Foundation
    • Granma


Class Notes 9/25/19

Professor Holt began class today by handing out the midterm review packet and explaining key points of the exam. The main goals she defined for the midterm were for us to show our development as historians, general mastery of the content we’ve covered so far, and our ability to analyze primary sources. Some other important announcements included the alumna event at 4:00 on Monday, September 30th in Kauke 137 with Global and International Studies graduate Lauren Gliss (‘13), new Learning Center exam protocol wherein students must request to take an exam at the Learning Center at least 2 days in advance, and instructions to send Professor Holt an email if anyone would like to improve a Wikipedia article not already included on the class list. Andy presented L.A. in the News today, which was a story about multiple Latin American countries agreeing to place sanctions on the government of Venezuela after being urged to do so by the United States. This is a classic example of the United States interfering in Latin American politics, albeit a less reprehensible one than past instances of stable democracies being overthrown for U.S. benefit.

Next, we discussed today’s reading: “Not Blacks, But Citizens: Race and Revolution in Cuba” by Devyn Spence Benson. Race politics in Latin America are very different from those in the United States, as racism was neither officially institutionalized nor officially criminalized in the majority of Latin American countries. Professor Holt described how in Brazil, which has a similar political situation to Cuba in terms of race, people of African descent have a more difficult time finding jobs and being admitted to universities, as predominantly black schools receive less funding from the government. And especially in Cuba, protesting or even discussing racial issues is seen as counterrevolutionary; Cuba’s society and economic system are dependent on unity, and if one group seeks to define itself as something other than just Cuban, even if others have already done so in a less explicit way, the Cuban government will automatically take issue with it. We then briefly discussed our HAPs in groups, debating the meaning of intersectionality and how racism in Cuba has changed throughout the years.

Intersectionality: a way of thinking about identity that seeks to view individuals’ identities as a whole with many overlapping layers, not split up into different parts

Afrodescendiente: of African descent; this is a label that allows Cubans such as those in the Afrocubana movement to navigate race while still identifying as Cubans

Afrocubanas movement: A group of black Cuban women working to combat racist and misogynistic views of Cuban women of African descent

After having examined the differences between racism in the United States and racism in Cuba, how do you think other forms of discrimination, such as misogyny and homophobia, differ between the two cultures? What are the differences between intersectional identities in the U.S. and Cuba as a result of those contrasts?

Although there are major differences between Cuba and the United States’ forms of racism, what are some of the similarities? Are there instances of Americans accusing those who protest against U.S. racism as being divisive?

Do you think there is any credence to the Cuban government’s assertion that any attempt to combat racism would result in race wars or other extreme divisions in the Cuban population? Do you believe that the Cuban government genuinely believes in those statements, or could they have other motivations for allowing the perpetuation of racism?

If the Cuban government were to acknowledge racism within Cuba and its effect on Cubans of African descent, how could it begin to effectively combat racism and rectify past wrongs?

A Look Back at the Afro-Cuban Films of Sara Gomez, Cuba’s First Female Director

Race Toward Equality: The Impact of the Cuban Revolution on Racism

Afro-Cuban Voices : On Race and Identity in Contemporary Cuba

Class Notes 9/23/2019

Today’s class started with L.A. in the news, with Alex presenting on the expelling of two Cuban diplomats to the U.N. by the United States. Cuba was being accused by the U.S. of using “sonic weapons” to sabotage and attack the U.S. embassy. Cuba’s foreign minister rejected these claims, and some suspect it to have been merely pesticides. From the sources Alex used, they seemed to be neutral, except Fox News in particular had a more anti-Cuban rhetoric.

Next, Professor Holt went into detail about the logistics of the full Wikipedia assignment. She went over what needs to be done on Wikipedia to fulfill the assignment. We then started to discuss the Sadie Bergen article we were assigned to read and talked about systematic bias. Particularly we explored as a class the question of what kind of people edit Wikipedia, and why they do it. We determined that it’s typically people who are invested in the topic and people who have enough leisure time to do so. The Bergen article also talked about how most of the Wikipedia editors are educated white men, and the editors are from majority Christian countries. They are also heavily dependent on secondary and tertiary sources as opposed to primary sources, and in theory the writers and editors attempt to remain neutral in their bias.

We then split into smaller groups to discuss the articles that we each individually chose. Some criticisms and patterns that the class noticed about the Wikipedia articles were things like bias, lack of information, lack of focus, and questionable sources. For instance, a few people picked articles having to do with Cuba and they all seemed like they focused too much on Fidel Castro. Pages for figures like Frank Pais or Celia Sanchez were reported to have had way too much information about their relation to Castro and at times even going on tangents about Castro, when at that point the editors should have just gone to Castro’s own page. A few pages as well seemed to have a pattern of a lack of focus or have a ton of content for something or someone in the past and have almost no content for very recent events.

We ended class with coming back from our discussion and Professor Holt leaving us with a few tasks. First is to complete more of the online Wikipedia training. Next, she instructed us to start officially assigning ourselves articles to edit. Professor Holt then ended with talking about some of the resources provided to us by the Wooster Library page and how to access online sources and archives.



Systematic bias: A bias developed based on the experiences or demographics of the writers or editors.

The “average Wikipedian:” The most common demographics of “Wikipedians” are white, educated, Christian males that live in developed countries.

Neutral bias: A bias that presents all sides to an issue or topic fairly and factually while not leaning to one side or the other.



Quick reference guide for COW Libraries:

Information page on systematic bias in Wikipedia articles:

Information page on WikiProjects on Wikipedia and their purpose:



Who can edit Wikipedia? What kind of people are typical Wikipedia editors? Why must we keep this in mind?

How can we work towards removing systematic bias in Wikipedia articles and get closer to neutral biases within articles?

What kind of sources are ideal for Wikipedia pages, and for what reasons? What sources are bad for Wikipedia pages, and for what reasons?

Class Notes 9/20/2019

     To begin class, Professor Holt played the music video for Corrido de Nipsey Hussle by Faraon de Oro. We had originally listened to the corrido itself on Wednesday without viewing the music video. There was also a discussion regarding the ongoing relevance of specific cultural forms, and using music as a way to study cultural change. After the music video, there was a discussion regarding the documentary, Undeterred, which was screened on Wednesday evening. The documentary focused on one town which was upset with border checkpoints causing hardships on the town. Additionally, the documentary looked at checkpoints which were not just at the border, but thirty to forty miles north of the border moving people toward the dessert and making it harder to carry water. The documentary made arguments not only for a humanitarian crisis, but also that the government was encroaching on the lives of people living in the Western part of the United States. 

     After the discussion, Spencer presented his LA in the News, which dealt with Mexico’s police force. Mexico is currently dealing with a problem regarding corruption and organized crime relationships within many law enforcement agencies. Additionally, many people within the police force doubt the work they do as they do not know who they may actually be working for. Spencer noted how many people have a high level of apathy for the police force due to this corruption, and many people do not want to join any sort of law enforcement because of this. The government is also trying to move away from corruption by creating a new police force; however it is having trouble getting people to sign up due to the high level of apathy people have for the system already in place.

     We then moved into small groups to discuss our HAPs on the Asela de los Santos interview and the historical questions for the day. The main historical questions were: “What questions should we consider when assessing interviews as sources?” and “What key themes regarding gender and revolution arise in the interview?” 

     In our groups we discussed “It Gave us Worth” the interview of Asela de los Santos by Mary-Alice Walters. We discussed the role of an interview as a source and the advantages and disadvantages that come with it. A disadvantage that was mentioned is that an interviewer will ask certain questions based on the argument they are trying to make. We also discussed the roles of women in the Cuban revolution and how that differed from previous revolutions discussed in class. Specifically, it was mentioned that women had a more calculated support of the revolution as many only joined after they believed the revolution would be successful and align with reforms they wanted. 


Key Terms:

Asela de los Santos: protested Batisa’s coup as a student, female leader and organizer of the July 26 movement, in charge of schools during Cuban revolution as a member of the department of education, established Federation of Cuban Women

Federation of Cuban Women (Federación de Mujeres Cubanas): created by de los Santos and Vilma after the revolution, advocated for women who believed their place was no longer limited to the home



What are the advantages and disadvantages to using an interview as a source? 

How did the roles women played in the Cuban revolution differ to the roles women played in other revolutions?

How did gender roles change due to the revolution in Cuba?



Corrido de Nipsey Hussle Music Video

Corrido de Nipsey Hussle English Lyrics

Federation of Cuban Women Wikipedia Page

Vilma Espin Wikipedia Page

Class Notes 9/18/19

The first item on our agenda Wednesday was the Border Studies program, discussed by a guest speaker in class. In the program, which is structured similarly to studying abroad, students live mainly in Tuscon, Arizona, but cross the border often on excursions to areas in Mexico. Students live with Spanish-speaking families, so experience in the language is required. Additionally, all students intern with organizations in the borderlands area. Those with high proficiency in Spanish may work with detained migrants and work in areas such as migrant justice or the interviewing of detained asylum seekers, and those with a lower proficiency may work in community gardens or schools. Those who can’t take part in this program (most likely seniors) can apply for internships, and there are week-long non-student programs.

After this, Professor Holt informed us of the History department picnic, and the screening of the documentary “Undeterred”, both events occurring later that Wednesday. She also played a segment of “Corrido de Nipsey Hussle”, a contemporary song about the late rapper in the corrido style we learned about in during our study of the Mexican Revolution. Gio then presented his “LA in the News” research, on government sponsored killings in Nicaragua. Professor Holt then spoke briefly on the fact that the Ortega in Nicaragua today resembles little the Ortega of the revolution, and that in our future study of the revolution it will be important to make a distinction between the two.

Our discussion of our readings and HAP was brief. Professor Holt showed us a 1959 American newsreel celebrating Fidel Castro, portraying him as charismatic, a man who would bring Cuba “back to normal.” In this sense, normalcy refers to aligning with US economic interests, as Batista was previously supported by the US and produced vast amounts of sugar. The clip is very clearly on the side of the revolution, quoting Castro as saying “I am fighting for a democratic Cuba and an end to dictatorship”, which would soon be greatly ironic as American governmental opinions shifted.

In our groups, we discussed the “Declaration of San José” by the Organization of American States, and Castro’s response of the “Declaration of Havana.” The bureaucratic nature of the former when compared to the fiery rhetoric latter was attributed by Professor Holt as the first document being written by committee, while the second was written by Castro as a speech. Questions about the nature of imperialism were raised, as the Declaration of San José claims it rejects imperialism in all forms, and specifically calls out Sino-Soviet influence in the western hemisphere by name, referencing Castro’s decision to ally himself with the Soviet Union. Castro rebuts this by calling into question the Monroe Doctrine as an extension of US imperialism in the western hemisphere, that by giving America the right to police the hemisphere, the clause is already broken.

Corrido—a popular Mexican style of song, in the format of a ballad that tells a story.

Borderlands—the area beside a border, used here in reference to that between the United States and Mexico. It also has connotations of being a liminal space, a space of overlap, which relates to the cultural aspect of the Border Studies program.

Imperialism—the action of one country extending its influence over another using force or coercion.


Does imperialism always have to be militaristic? Must coercion always come from the barrel of a gun? Why or why not?


How are cultures blended together today in the United States? Specifically, how do the cultures which exist on either side of the US-Mexico border interact with and change one another? Is the cultural divide distinct or blurred?


Our discussion of the protests in Nicaragua mentioned the fact that the protesters in the photo were wearing masks. Is hiding one’s face when engaging in this action morally acceptable, if it’s to do more than to protect from tear gas? Does its acceptability change if it is a protest in the United States, rather than in Nicaragua?



Further information on the events in Nicaragua.

A history of US-Cuba relations.

Corrido de Nipsey Hussle (Music Video)

Cuba’s New Government Recognised By Us (1959)


Class Notes 9/16/19

Class started with Max’s LA in the news which was about the Argentinian agricultural industry. The government is switching from corn being the main crop to soy beans. Soy is a much less reliable crop when compared to corn. It is cheaper to grow which is why the switch was made. The corn market in the US maybe not great shape this winter because of this change, there will be a decrease in corn supply.

Dr. Holt discussed how the Cuban revolution is different from the other Latin American revolutions because it was a Spanish colony for much longer. Once Cuba became free it became a protectorate of the US. Cuba was dependent on the US for its economy. We then broke up into groups to discuss how the Cuban revolution fits the DeFronzo’s framework.

Mass frustration—poverty, inequality, corruption, neo-colonialism, censorship, exploitation (US controlled land)

Dissident elites—Castro as an elite since he was educated, also had alliances with students

Cross-class unification—Unified under Anti-Batista, and against brutality

Political crisis—the sugar economy was going downhill, limited profit over the course of the year, also the puppet president

Permissive world context—US scared about communism. At first the US was permissive about the revolution but once Castro shifted more towards the left end of the political spectrum the US became more nervous.

Exam Questions:

-Does the Cuban Revolution fit DeFronzo’s framework why or why not?

-How does the US’s view of the revolution change over the course of the revolution?


Class notes 9/13/19

Professor Holt began class by congratulating us on finishing our primary source essays before encouraging the class to think about how one can use primary and secondary sources to measure the success or failure of revolutionary movements. 


Then, Rita presented her LA in the News article, which discussed squatters* discovering human remains on the property of former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessener. The article provided much-needed context on the roughly 400 people killed or disappeared during his regime – according to Rita, Stroessener persecuted any and all political opposition – and portrays the contemporary Paraguayan government as disinterested in investigating these atrocities.


After the presentation, Holt transitioned us into thinking about the contemporary Zapatista Army of National Liberation (ELZN*) with a picture of an ELZN sign. We were asked to translate it – it warned readers that they were entering upon Zapatista property – which served as a good reminder of the radical armed-group’s focus on self-autonomy and communal land ownership. 


This discussion was interesting because it demonstrated how many of the conditions that sparked the Mexican Revolution still apply to the current group resurrecting the Zapata name – the decades-long single party rule of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI*) can be thought of as a similar, more-cosmetically legitimate compliment  to the other Latin American dictatorships and the group are still fighting for land autonomy they’ve been denied for over a half-millennia. 


Then, we talked about the ELZN Wikipedia article specifically – first in groups, then as a whole class – and my group was primarily frustrated with the articles emphasis on secondary over primary sources, and its focus on their ideology over the history which much contextualize why such a group came into existence. After showing a picture of hooded ELZN members in front of an Emiliano Zapata mural and talking about their general self-seclusion in rural, we then talked as a class about our aforementioned qualms with the Wikipedia article, which served two useful purposes: (1) it allowed us to think about the potentially negative aspects of preferred forms of “credibility” on the website – and how this makes adding information on women, people of color and other marginalized groups challenging – and (2) it helped to get us thinking about how we might make our upcoming Wikipedia contributions stronger. 

The ELZN page was a good introduction to Wikipedia summaries and the editing process, as its editing history showed the topic to be highly contentious. While Holt assured us that we weren’t likely to face roadblocks this huge as editors, it serves as a reminder that how people talk about the past and present is inherently political and that the power in being able to influence what is or isn’t being written about cannot be overstated. 




Is there such thing as definite success or failure with revolutionary or counterrevolutionary movements? Even if Zapata failed to achieve his goals in the Mexican Revolution, would you consider a group taking on his name to be a form of revolutionary success? Could the same be said when counterrevolutionary or reactionary groups suffer similar defeats but still impact contemporary politics nonetheless? 


Our Wikipedia editing assignments, plus our look at the Zapatista page, show that even seemingly objective mediums are inseparable from politics. If you’re adding onto an existing page, is there anything significant with regards to what the past authors did or didn’t emphasize? If you’re creating a new article, does the topic’s past lack of discussion indicate any flaws with what topics and sources contributors tend to value? 




Squatters – People living on abandoned property, in Latin America this is widely done to find and loot valuable materials 


ELZN – Zapatista Army of National Liberation – contemporary left-wing militia group in Mexico named after Mexican revolution figure Emiliano Zapata. Like Zapata the group prioritize land redistribution and a communal ownership of property through extra-political and militant means. 


PRI – Partido Revolucionario Institucional – Dominant political party in Mexico from the aftermath of the Revolution until their electoral defeat in 2000. While Mexico is often thought to be a Latin American anomaly via it’s lack of a long-lasting dictatorial regime throughout the 20th century, the PRI’s single-party rule is functionally similar to these governments.