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  • Author: Sunil S. Amrith
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: “The history of water,” writes Sunil S. Amrith, “shows that nature has never truly been conquered.” Nature is a dynamic presence in Amrith’s oeuvre. As a historian of South and Southeast Asia, his research engages the spaces, movements, and processes of a uniquely Indian Oceanic region. The worlds recounted by Amrith are often ones marked by the ambitions of empires and polities, the mass migration of human labour, and indeed, the furies of nature itself. In his latest book, Unruly Waters, Amrith shows how “the schemes of empire builders, the visions of freedom fighters, the designs of engineers—and the cumulative, dispersed actions of hundreds of millions of people across generations—have transformed Asia’s waters over the past two hundred years.” It testifies to the dreams that societies have often pinned to water, as well as its unwieldy and turbulent nature. In his account of “the struggle for water” and control over the Asian monsoon, we come to understand how climate change exacerbates a problem both already in-progress and connected to histories of “reckless development and galloping inequality.” Sunil S. Amrith is presently the Mehra Family Professor of South Asian History at Harvard University. He was the 2017 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship. From July 2020, Amrith will be the Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University. His most recent book publications include: Unruly Waters: How Rains, Rivers, Coasts, and Seas Have Shaped Asia's History (Basic Books and Penguin UK, 2018), Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013), and Migration and Diaspora in Modern Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2011). In this conversation, we discuss the role of water, nature, and inequality vis-à-vis history; the fields of global and environmental history; and lastly, some of the thoughts and practices that underlay the historian’s craft.
  • Topic: Globalization, History, Water, Oceans and Seas
  • Political Geography: Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Joy Schulz
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: With young activists like Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, and Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez coming to the fore of headlines and social movements, the present has proven itself to be an opportune moment to reassess the role of youths in historical change. In this vein, Dr. Joy Schulz's book Hawaiian By Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific (2017) stands out as crucial reading. Emphasizing the centrality of American missionary children in the domination of the Hawaiian Islands during the second half of nineteenth century, Schulz's analysis exposes the potency of youth power through a series of chapters that trace the development of these young evangelists into colonizers and revolutionaries. In the process, she draws attention to the complexities born at the intersections of childhood and empire and underscores the capacity of children to record their own histories in ways that may complement or complicate adult ambitions. Dr. Schulz and I discuss these themes, and the challenges and opportunities that children present as the subjects of transnational histories.
  • Topic: Religion, Political Activism, Children, Colonialism, Youth, Empire
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific, Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Immerwahr, Odd Arne Westad, David Milne, Emily Conroy-Krutz, Thomas Bender, Carol Chin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Daniel Immerwahr, How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Imperialism, History, Empire, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kelly M. McFarland, Lori Clune, Danielle Richman, Wilson D. (Bill) Miscamble, Seth Jacobs, Vanessa Walker, Joseph S. Nye Jr.
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Political Theory, International Relations Theory, Political Science, American Presidency, Morality
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Theodore M. Brown
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A little more than two months ago, U.S. President Donald Trump began to lash out at the World Health Organization, blaming it for what he claimed were missteps, failures, and prevarications in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Then, on April 14, after several days of threats, he announced that U.S. funding for the WHO would be frozen for sixty to ninety days while his administration conducted a review to “assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.” Widely seen as a transparent attempt to deflect attention from his own inconsistent, incompetent, and irresponsible response to the crisis, Trump’s threatened withdrawal of funds from the WHO at a critical moment drew widespread condemnation from medical and public health leaders. Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of Lancet, called Trump’s decision a “crime against humanity.” Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, “denounced” the Trump administration’s decision to halt U.S. contributions to the WHO, which, he said, would “cripple the world’s response to COVID-19 and would harm the health and lives of thousands of Americans.”
  • Topic: International Cooperation, World Health Organization, Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Chester Pach, Cindy Ewing, Kevin Y. Kim, Daniel Bessner, Fredrik Logevall
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Daniel Bessner and Fredrik Logevall, “Recentering the United States in the Historiography of American Foreign Relations”
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Relations Theory, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Jeffrey A. Engel, R. Joseph Parrott, Heather Marie Stur, Steven J. Brady, Timothy Lynch
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Roundtable on Timothy J. Lynch, In the Shadow of the Cold War: American Foreign Policy from George Bush Sr. to Donald Trump
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, American Presidency, Post Cold War, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: David Bateman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In his treatise on southern politics, V.O. Key Jr. wrote that “in state politics the Democratic party is no party at all but a multiplicity of factions struggling for office. In national politics, on the contrary, the party is the Solid South; it is, or at least has been, the instrument for the conduct of the ‘foreign relations’ of the South with the rest of the nation” (Southern Politics in State and Nation [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949], 315). In an early (and laudatory) review of that book, Richard Hofstadter suggested that Key missed an opportunity to fully consider whether the South had affected national politics in more ways than through the reliable delivery of Democrats to Washington, but he noted that this might require another book (p. 7). David Bateman, Ira Katznelson, and John S. Lapinski have written that book. Southern Nation examines how the South influenced public policy, Congress, and the development of the American state from the close of Reconstruction to the beginning of the New Deal. The authors focus on the region’s role in national politics at a critical juncture when industrialization and a rapidly changing economy required new policy solutions. They show that the white South used this opportunity to rebuild its place in the federal government, secure home rule, and shape the national agenda
  • Topic: Post Colonialism, Race, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: George Hawley
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Survey data consistently show that large swaths of the American electorate favor restrictionist immigration policies. Politicians at the state and national levels regularly campaign on promises to crack down on undocumented immigration and discuss immigrants as a source of crime and a drain on resources. They are often rewarded at the ballot box for doing so. Yet these facts coexist with another trend: relatively few municipal governments pursue restrictionist policies at the local level. In fact, even in places where the GOP dominates, policies that accommodate immigrants are more common than policies designed to drive them away.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Clarisa Pérez-Armendáriz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: How do international migrants affect their origin countries’ politics? Drawing on evidence from the cases of Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico, Migrants and Political Change in Latin America argues that migrants gain new attitudes and economic resources as a result of experiences in their receiving countries that they then transmit to their origin countries through economic and social remittances and through return migration. Jiménez claims that by transmitting resources and ideas through these three channels, migrants create changes in the politics of their origin countries that they never intended or envisioned. These effects are mediated by local conditions in origin countries such as levels of education and wealth. Moreover, the social networks in which both types of remittances and return migrants are embedded augment their political effects.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus