2017 SHAFR Summer Institute

“Security And The State: Cultures Of National Security And Insecurity In American Foreign Relations”
Monday, July 3, 2017 - 9:00am to Friday, July 7, 2017 - 5:00pm
Other Event




From left to right: Andrew Preston, Carla Konta, Mike Graziano, Betsy Beasley, Nate Moir, Elizabeth Ingleson, Aileen Teague, Malcolm Craig, Jayita Sarkar, Evan McCormick, Stephen Wertheim, David Allen, James Bradford, Gaetano Di Tommaso, Mario Del Pero.

The term “national security” is everywhere. It permeates virtually every aspect of U.S. foreign relations and defines much of the federal government’s structure for foreign and military policies. It is no exaggeration to say that America’s relationship with the rest of the world is to a large extent based upon the requirements of national security, and how they are defined, represented, and narrated to the public. At its heart, and in an instinctual way, “national security” connotes safety: its goal is the defense of the nation against foreign threats. Though the pursuit of national security often leads to difficult and controversial wars, it is essentially based on a defensive and fearful mindset. It is also so expansive as to be virtually limitless. For the last several decades, threats to America’s national security have been found everywhere, from the beaches of Cuba and the jungles of Indochina to the deserts of Arabia and the mountains of Central Asia—even in the towns and cities of the United States itself. Under the aegis of national security, America has a defensive perimeter that is now both global and holistic. Few of its interests are peripheral.

But where does such a worldview come from? How do Americans conceive of threat and danger in the world? What constitutes the boundaries, legally, politically, geographically, and morally, of self-defense? Have Americans always thought of national security in these terms? We will also delve into questions about the influence national security has had on shaping the government’s capacity to project power. If war made the state and the state made war in Europe, was it also the case for the modern United States? How have perspectives on national security led to the augmentation of executive war powers? Have security concerns led to the establishment of a national security state or a military-industrial complex which, in turn, shaped America’s engagement with the wider world?

The cultures of American national security and insecurity will be at the heart of the 10th annual Summer Institute of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, which will take place July 3-7, 2017 at Clare College, Cambridge University. Designed for advanced graduate students and early-career faculty members in history and related fields, the program will feature seminar-style discussions and meetings with leading scholars. The Summer Institute will also provide a forum for participants to present their research and participate in workshops on professional development, teaching, and publishing. Each participant will be reimbursed for return travel to Britain, will be provided with free accommodation and most meals in Cambridge, and will receive a modest honorarium.

The deadline for applications is January 20, 2017. Applicants should submit a c.v.; a brief letter detailing how participation in this year’s Summer Institute would benefit their scholarship and careers; a short (300 word) abstract about the research project they will present at the Institute; and a letter of recommendation, ideally from their dissertation adviser. Please send this material electronically (in Word or PDF) to both of the Institute’s organizers, Andrew Preston, Cambridge University <[email protected]> and Mario Del Pero, Sciences Po-Paris <[email protected]>; references should be sent directly by the referee. Please direct all questions to the Institute organizers.