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Shin Eun-jung


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drawing by Kevin Rashid Johnson, imprisoned Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party

Shin Eun-jung was born in Gwangju, South Korea, in 1972. Her hometown’s historic uprising in 1980 had a profound effect on her life. A student activist, she later worked as a television news writer for nine years. From 2000 to 2004, she directed the Gwangju Human Rights Film Festival, which screened documentaries from around the world. This book is based upon the award-winning film of the same title. Verita$ won Best Director of a Documentary award at the 2011 New York International Film Festival; it was screened at the Society for Cinema Studies, the International Labor and Video Festival in Turkey, the San Francisco Labor Fest, and in its Korean version at the Seoul Marginal Film Festival. The Korean version of the book was a bestseller among nonfiction titles. Until she suddenly passed away in November 2012, she was hard at work translating this book into English. Visit the Veritas$ the film website.

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Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History
Author: Shin Eun-jung • Introduction by John Trumpbour
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-040-3
Published: 03/01/2015
Format: Paperback
Size: 9x6
Page count: 256
Subjects: History-US/US-New England

A critical examination of Harvard’s monumental but disconcerting global influence and power, this book examines aspects of Harvard’s history not generally known. The “hidden history” announced in the book’s title begins with analysis of Harvard’s involvement in the Salem witch trials and the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti. Similarly disquieting, Harvard provided students as strikebreakers in both the 1912 Bread and Roses textile workers strike and the 1919 Boston police strike.

Harvard administrators and scientists promoted eugenics in the early twentieth century and had a deep impact on Nazi Germany’s race theories. Its contemporary ties to U.S. foreign policy and neoliberalism are also profound. Harvard’s management of Russian economic reform left nightmarish memories, and the university was compelled to pay more than $26 million after the U.S. government sued it. The book also examines Harvard’s investment policy for its massive endowment, its restrictive labor policies, and its devastation of the adjoining Allston-Brighton neighborhood into which it is expanding.

Harvard’s motto is “Veritas,” which means “truth” in Latin. As the author reviews Harvard’s history, she questions the real meaning of truth and changes the letter “s” to “$” to emphasize the ways that Harvard has pursued money and power above its quest for truth.

In directing her award-winning DVD of the same name and in preparing this book, the author used documents and interviews with dozens of people, including Noam Chomsky, George Katsiaficas, Richard Levins, Margaret Gullette, Victor Wallis, and many more.

Praise for Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History

“Shin Eun-jung’s careful study raises many important questions not just about Harvard but about elite educational institutions and their nature and roles more generally. A valuable and thought-provoking contribution.”
—Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor of Linguistics (emeritus), MIT

“Eun-jung was a remarkable person. It was wonderful to have even a small role collaborating with her on Verita$, which I call ‘Verita$ the Dollar.’ I was impressed by every aspect, starting with the concept and the research she had done. She took on the huge subject of Harvard’s corporatization. Later I watched with admiration as she drew this difficult material together into a cohesive whole and deployed immense persistence in showing it around the world and writing about the subject.”
—Margaret Morgenroth Gullette, resident scholar, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University; Harvard PhD, 1975;Radcliffe College, B.A., 1962

“What I loved about Eun-jung was her courage—the courage to follow her heart’s desire and to leave her country and everything familiar to her, to come to our distant country where she amazed us all with her remarkable critical intelligence and energy. Overnight, it seemed, she learned English at Harvard and then became an award-winning filmmaker with her incisive analysis of that very institution.”
—Inez Hedges, professor of French, German, and cinema studies, Northeastern University

Commentary on Harvard in the book's interviews:

"It's an organ of the American ruling class whose mission is to do the intellectual labor that class needs."

—Richard Levins, professor at Harvard Medical School

"Others have said that Harvard is a giant financial stock market and real estate investment firm that happens to have classes on the side so that it can keep its tax-exempt status."

—John Trumpbour, research director, Harvard Law School

"Harvard has prestige. That is probably the single thing which brings back to mind the campaign of Harvard clerical workers when they tried to organize against poor working conditions. Their slogan was you can't eat prestige."

—Victor Wallis, professor at Berklee College of Music

"Harvard today is more a business than an university, It's more of an arm of the military than it is of intellectual freedom."

—George Katsiaficas, professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology

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What Others Are Saying...

veritasVerita$: A Review
by Harry Targ
Socialism and Democracy

"...Verita$ is a popularly written text that takes the reader through the history of Harvard University addressing most of the issues raised by the burgeoning critical literature on higher education. The author describes in detail the authority structures at Harvard and their very modest evolution since the student protests of the 1960s. The Harvard Corporation and a tiny executive elite have ruled with little regard for faculty, students, or staff input. When protests arose in the 1960s, the Harvard Corporation devolved some measure of authority to separate colleges, but control by the oligarchs remained. ..."

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veritasVerita$: A Review
by W. S. Simmons
Choice Magazine
May 2016

This book's thesis, not unlike that of Pierre Bourdieu in The State Nobility (1996), is that Harvard University serves the interests of wealth and power and reproduces social inequality by empowering elites.  The author asks why shouldn’t “the ultimate goal of higher education be creating a civil society in which more people live equally and happily?”  Filmmaker Eun-jung (d. 2012) abundantly documents how Harvard falls short of this goal in nine chapters with titles that include “The Harvard Tradition: Rich, White, and Male,” “Pentagon University,” and “Harvard’s Role in Russian Economic ‘Reform.’"  The author locates Harvard’s hidden materialism and power seeking in the 17th century but is most attentive to the postwar presidencies of James Bryant Conant, Derek Bok, and Lawrence Summers.  She begins her epilogue with a passage from Karl Marx that brackets conventional faith in admission practices encouraging social mobility: “The more a ruling class is able to assimilate the foremost minds of a ruled class, the more stable and dangerous becomes its rule.”  Would this book alarm Henry Dunster, John Winthrop, and Thomas Shepard?  They would surely recognize it as a jeremiad.  For the adult general public and, particularly, faculty and those interested in contemporary critiques of higher education.

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veritasDoes Harvard have a secret history as a major force for evil?
By Sarah Rose
New York Post
May 24th, 2015

"“Verita$” is on more solid ground when it takes the university to task on the taboo subject of class in the classroom. Harvard selects students primarily from advantaged backgrounds. Blue-collar kids have a hard time finding each other. Harvard can and should do better.

With a fraction of the endowment, Stanford recently announced free undergraduate tuition for families making less than $125,000 a year. That would be a good start.

Let us stipulate that “Verita$” is true, every terrible charge. We are left with the question: Who cares?..."

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veritasVerita$: Harvard's Hidden History, A Review
April 1st, 2015

"From its origins, Harvard was a university for men, by men, and of men. Even decades after the first wave of feminism had won the right to vote in 1920, Harvard refused to admit women. At that time it was commonly assumed that women's brains were too small to execute complicated intellectual work. So it might be unfair to single out Harvard as particularly harsh to women. Although Harvard questioned women's capacities, it never denied their donations..."

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More about Shin...

Verita$: Everybody loves Harvard: The Film

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