300 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Global Affairs about their New Books

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    • Society & Culture

Interviews with Scholars of Global Affairs about their New Books

    Ananya Chakravarti, "The Empire of Apostles" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Ananya Chakravarti, "The Empire of Apostles" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Ananya Chakravarti’s The Empire of Apostles: Religion, Accommodatio and The Imagination of Empire in Modern Brazil and India (Oxford University Press), recovers the religious roots of Europe's first global order, by tracing the evolution of a religious vision of empire through the lives of Jesuits working in the missions of early modern Brazil and India.
    These missionaries struggled to unite three commitments: to their local missionary space; to the universal Church; and to the global Portuguese empire. Through their attempts to inscribe their actions within these three scales of meaning--local, global, universal--a religious imaginaire of empire emerged.
    This book places cultural encounter in Brazil and India at the heart of an intellectual genealogy of imperial thinking, considering both indigenous and European experiences. Thus, this book offers a unique sustained study of the foundational moment of early modern European engagement in both South Asia and Latin America.
    In doing so, it highlights the difference between the messy realities of power in colonial spaces and the grandiose discursive productions of empire that attended these activities. This is the central puzzle of the book: how European accommodation to local peoples and their cultures, the experience of give-and-take in the non-European world and their numerous failures, could lead to a consolidation of an enduring vision of cultural and political dominion.
    Ananya Chakravarti is Associate Professor, South Asian and Indian Ocean history at Georgetown University.
    Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome.
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    • 1 hr 19 min
    Richard Breitman, "The Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies"(Oxford Academic/USHMM)

    Richard Breitman, "The Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies"(Oxford Academic/USHMM)

    The Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies is turning twenty-five. One of the first academic journals focused on the study of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies, it has been one of a few journals that led the field in new directions.
    So it seemed appropriate to mark the moment by talking with Richard Breitman, its long-time editor. Breitman is professor emeritus at American University and the author of several books on German history and the Holocaust. We talk in the interview about the origins of the Journal, about what it means to be the editor of an academic journal, and about how the field of Holocaust studies has evolved over the years.
    Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.
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    • 45 min
    John C. McManus, "Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943 (Dutton Caliber, 2019)

    John C. McManus, "Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943 (Dutton Caliber, 2019)

    For most Americans, the war the United States waged in the Pacific in the Second World War was one fought primarily by the Navy and the Marine Corps. As John C. McManus demonstrates in Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943 (Dutton Caliber), however, this obscures the considerable role played by the soldiers of the United States Army in the conflict throughout the region.
    Their presence there was one that predated the outbreak of hostilities, as the Army had stationed divisions and regiments throughout the Pacific and eastern Asia for decades. These men and women were among the first to confront the Japanese military onslaught, most notably in the Philippines where American forces waged a credible defense against the Japanese invasion of Luzon before they were ground down by disease and a lack of supplies.
    In the aftermath of this defeat, the Army mounted a series of campaigns across the breadth of the region. McManus describes these wide-ranging efforts, from Joseph Stilwell’s mission to aid the Chinese to the campaigns waged in New Guinea, Guadalcanal, and Attu against the Japanese forces on those islands.
    He also details the enormous build-up in men and materiel in places as far apart as Australia and Alaska, where American servicemen often found themselves coping with forbidding environments and cultural differences. By the time the 27th Infantry Division assaulted Makin Island in November 1943, though, the Army had found its footing in the Pacific War, and was well on its way towards defeating the Japanese empire.
    John C. McManus is an award-winning professor, author, and military historian, and a leading expert on the history of the American combat experience. He is the Curators' Distinguished Professor of U.S. Military History at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and recently completed a visiting professorship at the U.S. Naval Academy as the Leo A. Shifrin Chair of Naval and Military History.
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    • 1 hr 12 min
    W. J. Perry and T. Z. Collina, "The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump" (BenBella Books, 2020)

    W. J. Perry and T. Z. Collina, "The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump" (BenBella Books, 2020)

    As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, American nuclear policy continues to be influenced by the legacies of the Cold War. Nuclear policies remain focused on easily identifiable threats, including China or Russia, and how the United States would respond in the event of a first strike against the homeland. In their new book, The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump (BenBella Books, 2020), Tom Z. Collina, Policy Director at Ploughshares Fund, and former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry argue that American nuclear policy overemphasizes the first-strike threat, while ignoring other, more likely nuclear scenarios. The Button outlines the hazards in current American nuclear policy and argues for realistic improvements in nuclear defense policy and processes.
    Collina and Perry identify two main problems of American nuclear defense policy. First, American policy incorrectly focuses on a first strike by China or Russia as the major threat. The two authors refute this and describe such a scenario as unlikely because China and Russia know that any nuclear attack by them will be met with retaliation from the United States. A nuclear attack and response would undoubtedly cripple both sides and provide little if any benefit to anyone. The second problem defined in The Button is that in the United States, since the advent of nuclear weapons, has placed sole authority to use the weapons in this first-strike capacity in the hands of the president and the president alone. This process and structure continue to be based in a holdover of Cold War mentality and have always been at odds with the constitutional requirements around war declarations. Drawing on historical examples and Secretary Perry’s own experiences in a number of positions within the national security structure in the United States, The Button describes instances of false alarms, moments where presidents had faulty intelligence, and times when presidents were not necessarily thinking clearly. In each of these examples, the president could mistakenly or accidently launch a nuclear attack and set off World War III.
    Recognizing these gaps in nuclear defense policy, Collina and Perry recommend a number of changes that start with changing the thrust of the policy itself and moving away from the first-strike capability. Instead, they advocate for policy that is more clearly focused on cyber attacks, noting that in the 21st century, cyber warfare is a more clear and present threat than is nuclear war. Additionally, Collina and Perry argue that the president should not have sole authority over the capacity to launch the U.S. nuclear arsenal. While there have been recent congressional hearings on this dimension of American national security, The Button sketches out how various approaches that will maintain national security while also minimizing the potential for accidental use of nuclear weapons. Collina and Perry advocate for a rethinking of the structure of nuclear defense policy in the United States and for installing greater protections against nuclear war.
    Adam Liebell-McLean assisted with this podcast
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).
     
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    • 49 min
    Rebecca E. Karl, "China’s Revolutions in the Modern World: A Brief Interpretive History" (Verso, 2020)

    Rebecca E. Karl, "China’s Revolutions in the Modern World: A Brief Interpretive History" (Verso, 2020)

    China’s emergence as a twenty-first-century global economic, cultural, and political power is often presented as a story of what Chinese leader Xi Jinping calls the nation’s “great rejuvenation,” a story narrated as the return of China to its “rightful” place at the center of the world.
    In China’s Revolutions in the Modern World: A Brief Interpretive History (Verso, 2020), historian Rebecca E. Karl argues that China’s contemporary emergence is best seen not as a “return,” but rather as the product of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary activity and imaginings. From the Taipings in the mid-nineteenth century through nationalist, anti-imperialist, cultural, and socialist revolutions to today’s capitalist-inflected Communist State, modern China has been made in intellectual dissonance and class struggle, in mass democratic movements and global war, in socialism and anti-socialism, in repression and conflict by multiple generations of Chinese people mobilized to seize history and make the future in their own name. Through China’s successive revolutions, the contours of our contemporary world have taken shape. This brief interpretive history shows how.
    Suvi Rautio is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki. As an anthropologist, her interests delve into themes including Chinese state-society relations, space and memory in efforts to deconstruct the social orderings of marginalized populations living in China and reveal the layers of social difference that characterize the nation today. You can reach Suvi at suvi.rautio@helsinki.fi
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    • 1 hr 21 min
    Laurie M. Wood, "Archipelago of Justice: Law in France’s Early Modern Empire" (Yale UP, 2020)

    Laurie M. Wood, "Archipelago of Justice: Law in France’s Early Modern Empire" (Yale UP, 2020)

    Historians have long treated the Atlantic and Indian Ocean routes of early modern French empire separately. But, early modern people understood France as a bi-oceanic empire, connected by vast but strong pathways of commercial, intellectual, and legal exchange. Laurie M. Wood’s Archipelago of Justice: Law in France’s Early Modern Empire (Yale UP, 2020) recasts our view of France’s empire by evaluating the interwoven trajectories of the people, like itinerant ship-workers and colonial magistrates, who built France’s first empire in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the long eighteenth century. Imperial subjects like these sought political and legal influence via law courts, with strategies that reflected local and regional priorities, especially in regards to slavery, war, and trade. Courts became liaisons between France and new colonial possessions.
    Byline: Dr. Julia M. Gossard is assistant professor of history and distinguished assistant professor of honor’s education at Utah State University. A historian of 18th-century France, Julia’s manuscript, Young Subjects, examines children as important actors in social reform, state-building, and imperial projects across the early modern French world. Dr. Gossard is active on Twitter. To learn more about her teaching, research, and experience in digital humanities, visit her website.
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    • 37 min

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