Vertia$: Harvard’s Hidden History by Shin Eun-jung

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Short overview video clip

View short video clip describing the book and full length DVD documentary.

View full documentary

From the Introduction:

“Shortly before her sudden death at age forty, the Korean documentary film-maker and television writer Shin Eun-jung (1972-2012) produced a movie and a book about the global role of Harvard. The film Verita$: Everybody Loves Harvard won her the award of Best Director of a Documentary Film at the 2011 New York International Film Festival.

       Eun-jung developed her political and artistic sensibility as a student activist in Gwangju, Korea….”

From, John Trumpbour, “Introduction to the U.S. Edition of Verita$.”

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 polices, 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.

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 the book into English.

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Book Table of Contents:

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